Travel Sticker Shock: Fares, Fees, and Other Budget Busters for 2013

Airfares have increased more slowly than you might think, but new fees in surprising places may soon be taking a bite out of your travel budget.

Booking a last-minute trip can be a headache. And with flight prices hovering around $385 in the second quarter of 2012, travelers everywhere were groaning as they reached for their wallets.

Airfares were getting so steep that many were opting to drive, rather than fly, if the distance just didn’t merit the price. But after all that groaning, it turns out that travelers didn’t have it that bad after all last year, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Though ticket prices have steadily increased since 2009, they rose only around 4 percent in 2012, compared with a 13 percent increase in 2010 and an 8.5 percent jump in 2011. So while the airfare news is comparatively good, the sticker shock of the future might come from somewhere else: airline fees.

George Hobica, founder of the travel website Airfarewatchdog, told the Los Angeles Times that he predicts larger carriers will follow in the footsteps of Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, which charge customers fees for carry-on bags. Hobica expects carry-on fees to come sooner rather than later at other airlines.

On an international front,, which reports on tourism and travel news, predicts new airfare structures that could include higher prices for perks such as free checked bags and elimination of change fees.

On the whole, it looks like flyers are traveling less, which ultimately leads to spikes in airfares. “This decrease, coupled with increased demand from leisure travelers, will continue to cause the fare surges we saw during late 2012,” said Mark Drusch, chief supplier relations officer for Fareportal, the parent of

Extra fees aren’t likely to be limited to airlines. Watch your budget in other areas too:

  • Hotels might begin charging for room safes, luggage storage, and even restocking minibars.
  • Rental cars may start charging for extras such as car seats or GPS.
  • Cruise lines may charge for priority boarding and premium dinner seating.

How will you make the most of your travel budget this year?


Chloe Thompson

By Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson is a contributing writer to Associations Now. MORE

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