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Exposed! The 3 Worst U.S. Airlines For Hidden Fees Right Now (And The Best!)

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There's nothing worse than booking a flight for what you think is a good price, only to later realize you'll need to pay additional fees for everything from checked luggage to selecting a seat.

Suddenly, that $200 flight is looking like it'll actually be $300 or more…

Hidden airline fees are extremely annoying, and in order to help you navigate them, here's a look at the worst (and best) U.S. airlines when it comes to fees.

This is based on a recent study from NerdWallet, which analyzed the fees of all major U.S. airlines.

Surprised Traveler Packing Suitcase

Here are the 3 WORST airlines when it comes to hidden fees:

1. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines is the number one offender for hidden fees when flying.

According to NerdWallet, the average total cost of hidden fees on a Frontier flight is a whopping $157 each way.

This budget airline advertises low fares, but you can easily end up paying double or more than your original fare on fees for checked luggage, carry-on luggage, and seat selection.

It's no surprise that Frontier is one of the two most disliked airlines in the U.S. because of its bait-and-switch tactics and hidden fees.

Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 with the Jaguar livery

2. Spirit Airlines

Another airline with lots of hidden fees is Spirit Airlines.

Like Frontier, Spirit advertises itself as a low-cost carrier, and along with Frontier, it's the other half of the most disliked airlines in the U.S. duo.

You can expect to pay $120 in extra fees each way on Spirit flights. Much like Frontier, this is an airline that charges you for checked luggage and carry-on luggage.

The only way to avoid paying for luggage on Frontier or Spirit is to travel with nothing more than a small backpack as your one free personal item.

Spirit Airlines plane

3. United Airlines

Another offender when it comes to hidden fees is United Airlines.

Based on NerdWallet's data, travelers can expect to pay an extra $50 each way on United flights in checked luggage fees and seat selection fees.

This does not actually take into account United's recent announcement that baggage fees are increasing, so you can tack on an additional $5 each way for that.

united airlines aircraft take off

And now let's talk about the BEST airlines when it comes to a lack of hidden fees.

1. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is the clear winner when it comes to hidden fees, because the airline has none! You can expect to pay $0 in hidden fees on Southwest flights.

This is because Southwest allows all passengers two free carry-on bags and two free checked bags.

There are no seat selection fees, but that's because you don't have the option of choosing a seat on Southwest flights — so this isn't a perfect comparison to other airlines.

The lack of hidden fees is one of the things that makes Southwest the most popular airline in the United States right now.

Southwest Plane Flying Above Palm Trees, Jamaica, Caribbean Sea

2. Alaska Airlines

Next up, Alaska Airlines has some of the lowest fees out there… but they did just go up.

NerdWallet reports that Alaska Airlines has $30 in additional fees per one-way flight, but that doesn't account for the recent increase in checked luggage fees.

Alaska Airlines is one of many airlines to bump up their checked bag fees this spring. However, it's still one of the U.S. airlines with the lowest hidden fees.

Alaska Airlines Plane

3. Hawaiian Airlines

Similarly, travelers on Hawaiian Airlines will pay approximately $30 each way in fees, including seat selection and checked luggage.

This is another airline that just increased checked luggage fees by $5, so you might end up paying slightly more on Hawaiian too.

But when you compare it to an airline like Frontier or Spirit, it still stacks up pretty well when it comes to fewer hidden fees.

Hawaiian Airlines Plane

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