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Avoid Sky High Fees

If your portfolio took a hit last week you can try to recoup your losses when you take off for your summer vacation. You can save more than a few dollars if you know how to avoid some rather pervasive fees. Stephanie Au Werter, Senior Editor of Smartmoney.com, offers up some tips to get the best deal when flying.

First, be aware of booking fees. These are fees you get hit with when you book your ticket. They typically run between five and ten dollars. One way they are triggered is if you book through a travel website like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity. However, a new trend has started where airlines themselves will charge a booking fee if you book over the phone. The best way to avoid these fees are to book your ticket online but go directly through the airline's website.

If you are traveling with children, there are two fees to watch out for. If you are flying internationally and you have a baby you want to hold on your lap, be prepared to pay. Some airlines charge as much at 15 percent of your ticket price to do this. Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to avoid this charge all together, but if you shop around you may find some airlines will charge a little less.

Now, older children who are flying without an adult can also be subject to a fee whether they are flying domestically or internationally. The fee can be about 40 dollars, although sometimes this will be waived if the child is older than, say, 12-years-old. Shop around because policies vary by airline.

The third type of fee you should be mindful of is baggage fees. These days you should be prepared to pay a fee if you've got too many bags or is your bag is too big or too heavy. Know the rules before you start packing. Most domestic airlines allow each passenger to carry two bags no more than 50 poundS each. So get on your scale at home if you think you're pushing the limits.

Another fee to be aware of is the curb side check-in fees. Some airlines are now charging two dollar curb side check-in fees at certain airports and this does not include the tip. You can avoid this by taking your bags inside and checking in at the airlines counter or even checking in online from home. That way you can quickly move through the airline's self-service counter.

And finally, the food/pillow/blanket fees. These items are no longer free on a lot of airlines, so bring your own. This is particularly true with food. Those five dollar snack packs aren't exactly healthy or filling.

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by Stephanie AuWerter