If you've bought a plane ticket any time recently, you know all about the fees. How much is it to check a bag? Get more legroom? It all gets a little confusing. Thankfully the number crunchers over at TravelNerd did a full analysis and the findings were fascinating (hat tip to Travel Weekly for reporting on this).
TravelNerd's study found that airlines made 52 changes to their fees in 2012, breaking down to 28 baggage fees, 19 service fees, and five in-flight fees. Low-cost carriers Spirit and Allegiant were responsible for 18 of the changes (including Spirit's crazy $100 carry-on fee). The surprising thing was that only 36 of the fee changes were increases, and most were in the $5 to $10 range. One big decrease came from United, which significantly lowered their fees for overweight bags (from $200 to $100 for bags weighing 51 to 70 pounds and from $400 to $200 for bags weighing 71 to 100 pounds). Moral of the story, if you have a lot of baggage, fly United.
If you are just as confused by all these fees as we are, check out TraveNerd'sairline fees comparison and search tool. You can select which services you will think you'll need (checking bags, bringing a pet, etc) and the site tells you what those fees are from different airlines. You can also select a specific airline at the beginning and get a breakdown of the fees you can expect. It doesn't take away the annoyance of paying $60 to check two bags, but at least there will be no surprises when you get to the airport.