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Avoid hidden airline fees before your next flight

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

If you're flying out for the holidays, it will behoove you to be familiar with the pitfalls of ticket prices and hidden charges.

In fact, there are several major hidden fees you can easily avoid before your next flight.

The last thing you want to do is show up at the airport and have to break out your credit card again several times before boarding.

Heading home for the holidays can be tough, especially on one's wallet. Traveler Leslie Appleby tried saving money by booking a flight online with discount carrier Allegiant Air.

"It was going to be $350 for the cheapest other airline. We got two people round trip for $180," she said.

Even though Appleby saved money on airfare, she had to open her wallet again at check-in. She wasn't aware Allegiant charges for all bags, including carry-on, which can run between $20 and $50 per piece.

"It's a little shocking because every other airline I fly you can just stick it (luggage) up no problem, and that's called carry-on, but here it's a little different and I didn't read about it ahead of time," Appleby said.

Airline charges will stack up if you're not careful. However, there are ways to avoid being caught off-guard before you take off.

"It was a direct flight, $99. (It) took six hours. By the time I added on my checked-in bag, my seat selection, when I got through it was a little over $300 for my $99 seat," said traveler and travel agent Clare MacDonald.

MacDonald said saving on holiday travel starts at home. You should begin by booking your flight online. Some airlines, such as United, charge $25 to purchase tickets over the phone and up to $35 to purchase them at the airport.

"Some airlines charge anywhere from $25 to $50 for the first bag. Sometimes you bring your golf clubs, it can be $100 - more than you paid for the flight," said traveler Craig Gordon.

That's especially true of so-called budget airlines, such as Sprint. A carry-on bag and two checked bags can cost upward of $150, depending on the weight.

"I put my luggage on the bathroom scale and weigh it before I go to the airport. If it looks over by even a couple of pounds, take something out and put it in your carry-on," MacDonald advised.

Avoiding baggage fees will save you cash, which you might need if you get bored or hungry during your trip.

"If you wanted a bottle of water or soda, it was $2. If you wanted a sandwich, it was $6.50. All of these things add up," MacDonald said.

The days of free soda are over with many airlines. MacDonald said it's cheaper to bring your own food and drinks. The same goes for entertainment. With Frontier Airlines, it's up to $4 to watch TV and up to $8 to watch a movie. If you want a pillow and blanket, that's another $7.

"They get you for the bags, they get you for the carry-ons and for food or whatever, so all those extra fees add up and it may not be as good of a deal as you think it's going to be in the long run," Gordon said.

Changing or canceling a scheduled flight can be costly as well. JetBlue charges $115 to change or cancel online, and it's an extra $10 if you do it at the airport with Allegiant. If you want to change something as simple as the name on the ticket, that can cost up to $50.

Despite these charges, MacDonald said flying with a budget airline can be cost effective.

"I think you'll save some money. The trip we took was a little over $300 (per person) round trip with all the extras. But to book it with Hawaiian Air, it was going to cost about $600 (per person), so we did save some money and it was worth it," MacDonald said.

MacDonald also said that if you book through a popular website such as Travelocity or Expedia, you'll have a harder time rectifying problems with your trip because you'll have to go through the website's customer service department rather than the airline.

McCarran International Airport has added thousands of new parking spots since opening Terminal 3 earlier this year. Long-term parking is $14 a day, and economy parking will set you back $10 per day.  

Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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