Tips to save on holiday flights - even after buying a ticket

Expert advice on avoiding airline fees

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Many airline passengers would say that travel around the holidays is already steep enough. But there are some tips for passengers to keep more of their cash - even if they have already paid for a flight.

The cost of a plane ticket is up once again this holiday season. Where the airlines can really seem make some big money is with those extra add-on fees. Unless, of course, passengers can work around them.

Frank Swezey is frugal about flying. "That's probably the worst part is that it costs a lot of money," he said.

A new report from IdeaWorksCompany shows Swezey - and all passengers - that there are ways to save even after you book a flight. Tip number one is to pack lightly. Swezey cut it close this time. "Forty nine and half pounds," he said of his suitcase weight. Most airlines limit checked baggage weight to fifty pounds. A heavy suitcase could mean a heavy fee; up to $100 more in some cases.

Tip two is to bring your own snacks on-board. "I have a Cubano sandwich right here," said Swezey. He brought his food but he and other passengers did not know that they could save money on food and water if they think ahead.

Experts suggest bringing an empty bottle to get through security and fill it up at a water fountain before boarding. "Oh really, I didn't know  you could bring the empty bottle," said Karen Bertola, who was flying from Palm Beach International Airport to Connecticut.

The third tip is to avoid choosing your seat ahead of time. That can cost at least an extra $10 with certain airlines. Experts also recommend waiting as long as possible to change or cancel a ticket reservation. The airline may pick up the tab if your flight is canceled or delayed. Otherwise, a charge of up to $200 could be the passenger's responsibility. "Yeah, it is a lot of money," said Bertola.

A final tip from IdeaWorksCompany is to fly with your elite traveler friends. Airlines often wave baggage fees for up to eight passengers traveling with an elite flier.

These "optional" services are expected to bring in $24 billion for the airlines this year alone.

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