Monday, October 02, 2006

Taxes and fees can make airfare bargains vanish

Don't jump for joy when you find what looks like a fabulous $508 Chicago-London fare for travel this month. By the time the U.S. and United Kingdom tack on taxes and fees--and the airline adds its fuel surcharge--you will discover your ticket actually costs $752.50.
The airlines aren't trying to hoodwink you. That's just the way final fares are calculated, whether you're flying internationally or domestically. Looking online at travel site Orbitz, I found that taxes and fees on round-trip flight between Chicago and Delhi range from $69 to well over $300 depending on the airline and its routing.
The cheapest listed basic fare was $807 on Air India, with two stops going and one stop returning. In contrast, American Airlines was listed at $1,280--seemingly a hefty premium for the only non-stop service from Chicago to India. But when taxes and fees--$298 on Air India, $69 on American--were added in, the American non-stop at $1,349 cost just $244 more than Air India at $1,105.
The taxes and fees on the same route can vary even for the same airline. A one-stop in both directions on Air India listed at $1,180, but the taxes and fees on this routing were only $94.
01/10/06 Alfred Borcover/Chicago Tribune, US

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