smart spending

Multiple airline fees add to travel costs

4. Frequent flier mile redemption charges.  Want to turn those frequent flier miles into a real ticket to ride? It's probably going to cost you more miles than it would have a year ago, says Alexander Anolik, an attorney and co-author of "Traveler's Rights: Your Legal Guide to Fair Treatment and Full Value." Many airlines have raised the number of miles you have to spend to claim a free ticket. If you're traveling in the near future, there may be a separate fee to expedite the order.

In addition to spending your miles for the ticket, you may have to cough up extra cash to cover the fuel surcharge before you're done, Seaney says.

In addition, with a shrinking number of seats and flights, some airlines have made it all but impossible to use miles to visit some popular vacation destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, he says.

Avoid by: It's often easier to redeem frequent flier miles for more ordinary domestic destinations, says Seaney. And "you can always find a seat during the week," he says. So pay for the long, exotic jaunts out of your own pocket and use your miles for more vanilla trips.

Also analyze why you're playing the frequent flier game in the first place. If you want free trips, and you're not getting them, maybe you take your membership to another airline or pick another credit card perk that will give you more of a payback. If you use membership to gain better treatment when you do travel, and getting free or discounted tickets is simply a side-benefit, just realize that the cost of cashing in those points is likely going to be higher now.

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5. Checked bags.  This is the fee that's been making headlines. Airlines used to let you check up to two bags for free. Now, some airlines are charging for that second checked bag, while some are even charging for the first one. What you'll pay: Fees are generally running $15 to $50, according to industry watchers.

Avoid by: Taking one bag and packing light. Just because you can cram everything into one regulation-size bag doesn't mean you've beaten the fee system. If your suitcase comes in over-weight, you'll face an additional fee.

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