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Decoding fares means decoding fees. When it comes to airline baggage fees, that’s not always easy to do. Though there are ways to avoid paying baggage fees, sometimes that’s just not possible. Knowing your flight fare options and customizing travels to suit your needs is a good thing, right? We just want transparency so there are no surprises at the airport with ticket costs.
In digging deeper on what to do when paying for baggage is your only option, I found Kayak’s “Baggage Fee Assistant.” Kayak is one of my favorite sites to book flights. Kayak’s Baggage Fee Assistant helps you see the real cost of your airfare. With all the potential add-on fees such as seats and food, ticket costs add up fast.
Google Flights has a similar feature, but is limited to fares that have at most one carry-on and one checked bag.
How Does Kayak’s Baggage Fee Assistant Work?
Kayak realized travelers don’t just want to see the airfare costs. Flyers want to see the total cost of the flight, including fees. In late 2018, Kayak released Baggage Fee Assistant (and beat Google Flights to the punch). The first benefit it provides is that the calculated bag fee is shown when you’re searching for fare…not when you’re about to pay and provide your credit card information. This Kayak feature shows you what your ticket with bags costs — upfront.
The Baggage Fee Assistant works as a toolbar that is displayed right on top of your flight search results on Kayak.com. You add the number of bags you are traveling with and watch as the listed fare goes up depending on the airline’s policies. When you use Kayak and search for a flight, it’s possible to customize the assistant to include fees for both carry-on and checked baggage.
Then you can refresh your search and get the REAL cost of your flight based on how many bags you travel with.
Example of How the Baggage Fee Assistant Works
In a search for flights between New York and Los Angeles the best deal I found was a $634 round-trip on Spirit and American.
But once I added a carry-on bag, that shot up to $669. By adding in a checked bag, the fare went up to $731. By hovering over the suitcase icon on the listed fare, you’ll learn the exact fare breakdown. Expensive, true. But at least I knew what I’d be paying for: no more surprises.
Basic Economy vs Economy Fares
Another point of transparency is that Kayak results also indicate when a fare is basic economy or economy and includes what you’ll receive with each fare. As airlines introduce fare classes with more restrictions, price based on carry-on bag fees is often overlooked. It’s important that this potential fee be included in the assistant option.
What’s Not Included Within The Kayak Fee Assistant Search
Remember what the assistant will not show as it searches for your fare. Amenity prices for add-ons such as in-flight food costs or upgrades are not shown. Neither is general information about seat pitch.
Booking Flights On Kayak: Which Card To Use?
We recommend using a card that earns transferrable points when booking flights on Kayak. Thankfully, for Chase cards, Kayak purchases are coded under the “travel“ category. That means you’ll get 3x points on Kayak purchases using the Chase Sapphire Reserve and a decent 2x points using the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Kayak Baggage Fee Assistant feature offers fee transparency. It helps travelers budget spending on flights as well as makes the whole booking process easier to know what’s included and what extras cost. Now if only this assistant could help us pack more efficiently too!