The Fine Print: Airline Tickets

With airline travel projected to drop 7 percent this summer, you’d think every offer out there would be a deal for consumers, right? But thanks to fine print, even the best fares can come with buried disclaimers that can cost you big time.

Gabe Saglie of Travelzoo explains that the “contract of carriage” is the term for the contract you enter into with an airline when you buy a ticket. It is this document that contains all the relevant information you need, from taxes and fees to lost baggage policy to cancellation policy to even the mode of conduct the airline expects from its passengers.

On international flights, Saglie says, the final price you pay is not necessarily the actual final price. The taxes and fees that you pay as part of the ticket price can change, even after you’ve paid, and you may be responsible for them. That means if those charges increase, you’re on the hook. It also means if they go down, you may be entitled to a refund in that amount – but how many travelers know to ask for that?