Buying airfare at the airport is, at best, a relic of our past, like getting dressed up to fly or smoking while at cruising altitude. At worst, it’s a great way to get yourself into the special screening line at security. But Melissa Yeager of the Arizona Republic found that if you’re patient and like going to the airport, it could save you on booking fees.
Yeager learned that the online or phone booking fees that low-cost airlines charge may not apply if you book your ticket in person. These are often called Carrier Interface Charge, Electronic Carrier Usage Charge or Passenger Usage Charge, and Yeager writes that they’re typically lumped into the “taxes and fees” part of your bill. Book at the airport, and you can save up to $20 each way for tickets on budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.
If you try this, make sure you have some time on your hands. Here’s Yeager trying to book her Frontier ticket:
However, for the hassle of booking her Frontier and Allegiant tickets at the counter, Yeager was able to get a seat assigned without that typical fee.
Just make sure you know when to go. As Yeager learned, “Allegiant offers ticket sales at every airport it serves but only twice a week for two hours. At Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, the hours are noon to 2 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.”
Yeager says that having some time on your hands is key for making this trick work for you, since the ticket agents are there primarily to accommodate actual departures. But if you’re going to the airport to pick someone up, it may be worth booking then. If you live near the airport and can get free or cheap parking for an hour while you wait in line to book, it may be worth it. If you’re booking for your entire family, saving $20 per person per flight could add up fast.