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Web site helps travelers sort out airline fees

A web site specializing in consumer financial advice, like comparing various credit cards, has taken the same concept to the confusing universe of airline passenger fees.

The site is NerdWallet (www.nerdwallet.com), and it covers the costs for a variety of so-called ancillary services, like fees for checked bags, ticket changes, seat selection, pets, unaccompanied minors, and others, like booking on the phone instead of online. It even covers fees for carry-on bags at the two airlines that currently assess them.

Perhaps most usefully, it allows users to see an airline-by-airline comparison for the fees they’re most interested in, making it a useful adjunct in selecting a carrier before booking. In all, it has information on more than 300 domestic fees across all major U.S. airlines.

“Among airline fees, checking bags and changing a ticket typically have the biggest impact on travelers’ wallets,” a spokeswoman said. “However, travelers still need to watch out for many other fees that are not clearly disclosed or have complicated pricing terms,” such as overweight/oversized bags, and flat per-trip fees vs. segment fees.

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