Unexpected Airline Fees

The next time you fly, you might get hit with an unexpected fee: a gate-handling charge. Recently a number of major airlines have started to roll out Basic Economy fares. They’re less expensive than your typical airfare, but they sometimes come with a catch: they don’t include carry-on bags. And if you wait until you’re at the gate, checking that bag can be twice as expensive. That detail is spelled out when you buy a ticket, but if you overlook the fine print of the less-expensive fare and show up at the gate with that larger bag anyway, you can (and will) be forced to check it. Unlike gate-checked bags when the overhead is simply just full, gate-checking when you’re on a Basic Economy fare can get pretty expensive. For now, American and United are the only two airlines that don’t include a carry-on in their Basic Economy option. You can only bring a personal item such as a purse or backpack on board with those fares. Gate-checked bags come not only with a $25 charge (or $35 if you’ve already checked another bag), but also a “gate-handling charge,” an additional $25 you need to pay for the hassle of having a gate-agent check the bag last minute while people are boarding. That additional $50-$60 can often kill any savings you got by buying the cheaper fare in the first place. Read more.