As you book your tickets for the holidays this month, don't forget about those darned fees. If you are going to be traveling with gifts (which I recommend you don't do), you may need to carry extra baggage. But remember, in most cases, every additional piece of luggage is going to cost you.
Of course, all fees are not created equal. Therefore, even if the actual ticket charge is less on Airline A than Airline B, Airline A's higher baggage fees may render the cost differential meaningless.
Let's do some comparison shopping among real airlines.
American: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $100. Oversized bags are $150 each.
United: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $125. Oversized are $175.
Delta and Northwest: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $125. Oversized are $175.
Continental and US Airways: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third is $100. Oversized are $100.
Southwest: Free for first and second bag. Third bag is $25. Oversized are $50. And the tickets are usually cheaper to boot. This is your best deal.
JetBlue: Free for first bag. Second bag is $20. Third bag is $75. Oversized are $75.
AirTran. First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $50. Oversized are $39.
For those prices, it really makes more sense to ship gifts ahead of time. Better yet, order on-line at sites offering free delivery anywhere in the country. That way, you can arrive at your holiday destination lighter, richer and less stressed.