How To Avoid Hidden Airline Fees

Hidden airline fees in my opinion are the worst of the worst. European airlines made £13 billion last year alone from them. Let me show you how to make it stop!

There’s nothing worse than finding your budget holiday has just turned into an expensive nightmare thanks to hidden airline fees. That’s exactly why I’m dedicating today’s post to teaching you how to avoid them. 


The Civil Aviation Authority have claimed to be clamping down on hidden airline fees we’re still finding that we, the consumers are tricked into unnecessary fees.


Earlier this year it was declared in parliament that European airlines made almost £13 billion last year alone through additional charges. This included the sale of extra goods such as baggage, food, and insurance.


Whilst action is being taken, we’re still being tricked. So, what are these hidden airline fees and how can you avoid them…



Thought this was just a European budget airline thing? – think again. Even on our transatlantic trip to Florida, I was expected to pay extra to check in luggage.


The simple, and of course most obvious way to get around this fee is to not check in luggage at all. Instead, packing everything into a carry-on. I remember going on holiday with my parents circa 2004 when these fees had just been introduced by budget airlines. At the time were the only ones going on a family holiday with just hand luggage. However, a decade later, you’ll struggle to walk around the airport without being tripped up by someone’s mini suitcase.

Considering the cost for the vast majority of these hand luggage suitcases is the same price as putting a suitcase in the hold. Then if you’re going on holiday more than once a year, it’s a great investment.

Aerolite Super Lightweight Hard Shell Hand Luggage Suitcase (Charcoal)
Aerolite Suitcase With 2 Wheels Approved for Easyjet, British Airways and More (Black)

Karabar Monaco Cabin Approved Hard Suitcase (Black)54x34x20cm2.2 kg
Super Lightweight Cabin Approved Suitcase (Pink Dots)50x35.5x20cm1.50kg

– and if you’re sat there thinking “I’ll never fit a week’s worth of clothes in that tiny suitcase” then think again. 

If you have children then paying for a large suitcase to be stored in the hold may seem like the only option. However, depending on your destination you could opt to use the money you would spend on bringing a suitcase to instead purchase the items you would have otherwise stored in the suitcase.


Depending on the age of the child and the airline you’re travelling with children will be entitled to hand luggage too. Children’s clothes are smaller than adults so be sure to play suitcase Jenga to maximise your space. Think about buying cheap clothes and leaving them there. Alternatively, you could take old clothes that you were only going to throw away anyway – perfect for around the pool.

Regardless of whether you opt for hand luggage or a suitcase in the hold. Airlines have weight restrictions. This hidden airline fee will look to charge you extra if you’re baggage weighs more than a select amount (this amount often varies airline to airline)

It’s important to remember that hidden airline fees are also in the weight of both hand luggage and checked in baggage. I’ve compiled a short list of airlines and their weight restrictions, however please be sure to check with your airline at the time of travel as these are often changed.

AirlineHand LuggageSuitcase
Aer Lingus6kg20kg on short haul | 36kg on long haul
Air France12kg23kg
Alitalia5kg23kg | 32kg for business class
British AirwaysN/A23kg
Singapore Airlines7kg23kg
Thomas Cook6kg15kg | 20kg on long-haul | 23kg to USA
Turkish Airlines8kg20kg

If you’re able to use your weighing scales at home to weigh your baggage prior to travel that’s great. Alternatively you can pick up some portable luggage scales. Considering the additional charges that come with a suitcase weighing more than the airline recommends is anything from £30+ this is certainly a worthwhile investment.


Seat Selection 

If you think you have the privilege of sitting together as you start your holiday then think again. That’s because some budget airlines are creating a hidden airline fee that requires you to pay for either selecting where on the plane you sit or to guarantee you’ll be sat together.

This is something that again is down to personal preference, organisation and of course airline.


Budget airline Ryanair charge anything from £4 – £15 per person for seat allocation each way. If sitting together matters then be sure to include this when thinking about the cost of the flight. You might actually be better off booking with an airline that gives you seat allocation as part of the package.

I’ve never paid to select where I sit on a plane and instead left it up to chance. There is however one way to increase your chance of getting sat together. That is by opting to check yourself in at home and doing it as early as possible. Seat reservations are handed out on a first come, first serve basis. So, if you’re the first to check in you’re much more likely to be sat together.

Hidden airline fees include choosing where on the plane you sit, or whether you sit with those you're travelling with... 

Alternatively, if you’re a young couple or a bunch of friends. Then sitting away from each other for a couple of hours knowing that you’ll be spending the next few days together isn’t the end of the world. The bonus being that it gives you more money towards other things – you know like alcohol.


Another thing to remember is the capacity of the plane. My dad learnt this trick many years ago now and has since passed it onto me. A couple of days before your flight go onto the airline’s web page and try and book as many seats as you can for your flight. This should enable you to accurately predict how many unoccupied seats there are going to be on the plane. After all, there would be nothing worse than spending circa £100 on seat allocation only to find that the plane is only half full.

Avoid hidden airline fees on choosing to sit together with this simple hack.

Name Changes

Perhaps one of the worst hidden airline fees has to be the cost associated with changing the name on a booking. At the time of writing, budget airline Ryanair charge £110. with other airlines such as Thomson and EasyJet charging £50. This can often be more than the cost of the flight. 


It may sound silly, but check, check and check again when making online airline bookings.


Remember that the name in which you book under must match that shown on your passport. This is particularly worth remembering if you’ve recently got married.



Is there anything more ludicrous than trying to charge you for paying for your flight?


Some airlines will charge anything from 2% to 5% on your total booking cost when paying by credit card, PayPal or American Express.


If you’ve just spent £200 on booking a flight for the family. Then for the privilege of paying on a credit card, you can be expected to fork out an additional £4 – £10. That’s money towards car parking, travel arrangements at the other side, or snacks on the plane.


The vast majority of airlines won’t charge you for paying with a debit card. So, save yourself some cash and shuffle about your money if you have to. Either way to avoid this hidden airline fee paying by debit card is the way to go!


Boarding Pass

Many budget airlines now require you to print your boarding cards at home. Don’t and the airline will look to charge you anything from £12 to £40 per person for the privilege. Which is of course madness.


If you’ve got a smartphone then avoid this completely unnecessary charge. Start by downloading the airline’s app onto your smartphone. Most airlines have one. Then you should be able to check in for your flight through that.


If you go ahead and opt for this method then be sure your phone battery is charged. In order to prevent it from dying at the airport.

If you know of any hidden airline fees that I have not covered in this article. Then be sure to let me know in the comments below. Alternatively, if you have any tricks as to how to avoid hidden airline fees that I have yet to cover. Drop me an email or a tweet, as I’d love to be able to share them.



  1. Jessi October 16, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I had an idea of some of these, but charging to print your boarding pass?! That’s insane.
    For carry-on I try to go even lighter and take a large cabin bag (backpacks and duffel bags also work) as with all the handles and wheels, even the small suitcases can weigh a few kg/lb themselves – not what you want when some airlines can have a 7kg limit for carry-on. Bonus – they’re often cheaper then suitcases. My Cobb & Co bag has lasted nearly 10 years including a trip to Japan with no other luggage.

    Great tips!


    • TMM October 16, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Hi Jessi,

      Those are some awesome tips thanks for sharing. I agree that printing your boarding card charges are stupid and annoying.
      I admire your packing skills for Japan. How was it? We’re looking at going in 2017.



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