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Holiday Travelers Pay More Fees to Fly

"A lot of times, the airline you choose is based on what your arrival or departure city is," Banas says. "A big city like L.A. has five airports and you can flight on any airline, but if you're from a small town, you might only have a couple of choices, so what do you do?"

Those in podunk towns that lack fee-friendly airlines may consider earlier or later travel dates or traveling on the holiday itself, which tends to be cheaper and more comfortable. Those bearing gifts are advised to mail them or take advantage of free shipping offers from online retailers.

Those curious about the next wave of fees need only look beyond the borders. British Airways charges passengers up to $90 to book seats in advance. Last year, Air Canada charged fees for customer service by asking passengers to pay $25 to $35 each way for its "travel assistance" program. Japan's All Nippon Airways, meanwhile, began asking passengers this month to use the bathroom before boarding to help conserve fuel, while an executive at Ireland's Ryanair mused publicly this year about charging passengers to use the toilet.

"I think it's unlikely, but ask me two years ago if they were going to start charging bag fees and I would have said it was unlikely," Banas says.

-- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.
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