Holiday travel: 6 things to know if you haven’t been on a plane since last year

Joining the throngs of travelers boarding a plane this holiday season? If you haven’t been on a plane since last year’s Thanksgiving or Christmas getaway, a mixed bag of airline changes await. Among the bad news: Baggage fees are higher. On the positive side: You’ll find more free in-flight entertainment and instant messaging.

Here are six things infrequent fliers need to know before heading to the airport this holiday season:

1. Baggage fees are higher on most major airlines: JetBlue Airways started the trend in August, boosting fees by $5 to $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag. American, Delta, United and others soon followed. There are a few ways to dodge them. Southwest Airlines is the only U.S. airline to allow two free checked bags. 

2. No frills basic economy tickets are now a thing on several airlines, and they come with heavy restrictions: United, for example, doesn’t let basic economy passengers bring a standard carry-on bag.  (American and Delta do.) Show up at the gate with one and you’ll pay a minimum of $55 plus your bag will be checked, not brought on board. Check it at the ticket counter for normal baggage fees. Basic economy fliers on United, Delta and American also board last and get last-minute seat assignments. That means family members will likely be separated. Bottom line: check your ticket before you get to the airport to avoid any nasty surprises.

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