So what’s really behind that ticket price that you’re paying?


That great bargain fare that you see the airlines advertise may not be what you actually pay. There are fees — lots of fees.

Here’s a breakdown of a sample $300 fare, courtesy of everyone’s favorite airline analyst, Rick Seaney:

$146 for the air fare (48.6%), $93 for the fuel (31%), $18 for fees the airports charge for improvements (6%), $14 tax for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (4%), $10 for the Transportation Security Administration (3%), $11.85 for a federal sales tax on the airfare (4%) and $6.98 for a federal sales tax on the fuel (2%).

But that’s not all. Congress is considering doubling the Sept. 11 Security Fee, as well as raising the current fee of $3.50 earmarked for FAA Projects. Add to that the fuel surcharge fee that the airlines are charging, followed by the baggage check fee that American (and probably other carriers soon will charge), and “premium” seats, such as window or aisle seats and front-of-the-cabin fee, and you could be paying a lot more than what you first thought.

Of course there are those “convenience fees” such as booking over the phone with an agent, at the ticket office, or even online.

US Airways, which charges $15 for tickets bought through reservations and $20 for those bought at the airport or city ticket offices, also recently slapped a $7 charge for online bookings. Alligant Air, a Las Vegas-based regional carrier, charges $10 for online bookings.

According to the Air Transport Association, a lobbying group for airlines, “taxes and fees make up a far greater percentage of a ticket now than they did in 1992, when they amounted to 13% of a ticket, and in 1972, more like 7%.”

With all these fees that we have to pay, it might be cheaper taking the bus. Of course with the rising price of crude oil, bus companies like Greyhound may have to start charging more fees.