Mark Drusch, chief supplier relations officer at the value-minded travel site CheapOair
, has worked in revenue management at Delta and Continental, and says there are
ways to avoid the seemingly endless fees airlines tack on to already pricey fares. Checked baggage costs are a big one, especially in winter, when many people are traveling with more bulky clothing. If a family of four isn't savvy, they could spend $280 round-trip to bring their hats, scarves, sweaters and coats with them, since the average charge is $35 per bag, each way. Drusch's No. 1 piece of advice is to get a credit card that's affiliated with the airline you travel on most often. There might be an annual fee (the average is about $70
), but the perks—which can include free checked bags for you and up to seven people traveling with you—are worth it. Plus, Drusch says many companies will give new customers the first year free (if they don't offer, ask them to waive the initial year's dues).