Time to alert your business travelers: Pay very close attention when booking that next business trip.
Airline fees have jumped up a whopping 11% in the past year, according to a new study from TravelNerd, amounting to $36.1 billion in airline revenue alone in 2012. And while 36 out of 52 of the fee changes are direct fee increases, the remaining are a result of:
- Bundling/unbundling. Instituting one fee for priority boarding and seating or instituting two separate fees for priority boarding and seating that had been bundled as one
- Increasing price ranges. Expanding premium seat fees from $25-$75 to $12-$199, and
- Shifting policies. One carrier kept the same fee price of $50 for overweight bags 51-70 pounds but changed the fee policy to apply for bags 41-70 pounds.
Two main offenders, but one sign of hope (for luggage)
According to TravelNerd, the two airlines notorious for charging fees, Spirit and Allegiant, are responsible for 18 of the 52 fee changes. Spirit also has a $100 per carry-on bag fee.
United Airlines, however, is actually helping travelers when it comes to their luggage. The airline reduced its overweight bag fees from $200 to $100 for bags 51 to 70 pounds and from $400 to $200 for bags 71 to 100 pounds.
However, the point remains: Business travel is going to be much more costly if your traveling employees aren’t paying attention.
Easy ways to save on business travel
Here are some essential tips to pass on to your frequent flyers:
- Pack light. The best way to avoid paying luggage fees is actually very simple: Don’t. That is to say, pack light enough that you don’t need to check any luggage, so all you’ll need is a carry-on. But if it’s an extended trip, check for the best luggage deals. Some airlines will check the first bag free if you’re a repeat traveler or have a business class ticket.
- Check out hotels with kitchens. If it’s an extended trip, consider looking into hotels with kitchen amenities. If you can cook your own meals instead of eating out every night, you’ll save in the long run.
- Eat the complimentary breakfast. If there’s no kitchen in the hotel, take advantage of the comped breakfast at least. It’s quick and easy in addition to being free.
- Use public transportation. Though it’s not an option at every location, if you’re in a major metro city, do as the locals do. Research bus routes or subway schedules ahead of time to be well-prepared on day one.
- Use long-term lots. It’s tempting to get as close to your departure gate as possible, but the price is astronomical. Head out to the airport earlier and use an off-site parking lot. Aside from rates being generally better, you can usually have them match a competitor’s coupon.