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Consumer Watch: The hidden cost of discount travel

Major and discount airlines are offering consumers lower airfare, but it comes with a different price (File).

Travelers may be willing to put up with a whole lot to get the best deal on a flight, but everyone has a limit. The cost of flying can feel overwhelming, so something like a $100 flight for a weekend getaway can sound like a dream. However, some small print charges could end up being budget busters.

The airfare can often be the biggest chunk of your travel budget, but before you go searching for bottom of the barrel prices, travel experts say you have to know what comes with the lowest priced airfare. Major and discount airlines are offering cheaper travel if you don't carry luggage, which can be a tall order.

"You don't carry anything on, just one personal item, and that personal item has to go underneath the seat. If it isn't, they will charge you another $25 as you get to the gate with it in each direction," says Victor Neal, Prime Time Travel, owner.

For longer international travel specials, there could be restrictions you may not want to put up with, even if it saves you $100 off of a $1,500 ticket. Neal says travelers have to ask themselves if the potential discomfort is worth it.

"They had one seat behind each other for eight rows. The fare was not allowing them to book anywhere else except in those middle seats all the way to Australia and all the way back, so that is how they got their cheap fare,” says Neal.

Discounted airlines can be great for a weekend getaway, but you have to know about the fine print up front. This includes extra fees if you want to take more than a carry-on, wanting to pick your own seat, and know any drinks and snacks will always come at a price.

The cost to fly varies widely. Flights from Oklahoma City to Dallas can run between $84 one-way all the way to $2000 one-way. The best way to keep costs down without sacrificing too much comfort is to buy tickets as early as possible, and avoid traveling on Saturdays.

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