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Consumer Reports Rates Top Airlines, Car Rental Companies

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(Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you’re flying somewhere and renting a car, then you already know you’re not just paying for the ticket and the vehicle anymore.

Fees are jacking up the costs for both.

Consumer Reports took a look at airlines and rental car companies to see which ones are the best and worst.

What they found was that the friendly skies aren’t always so friendly.

“We asked almost 15,000 subscribers to rate their overall satisfaction with the airlines and also things like seat comfort and service,” Greg Daugherty from Consumer Reports said.

US Airways was at the bottom of the ratings.

“US Airways got very low ratings for cabin-crew service, baggage handling, seat comfort, and entertainment options,” Daugherty said.

United Airlines didn’t do much better.

With most airlines, one of the biggest complaints was high fees.

Southwest was the top-rated airline and 93 percent of people said they didn’t have to pay fees for services like checking bags, choosing a seat, or for food and drinks.

“Southwest is one of the few airlines that lets you check two bags for free. And it was the only airline that had the highest scores for cabin-crew service and check-in,” Daugherty said.

JetBlue came in at number two in the survey. It was the only airline to receive a high rating for its in-flight entertainment and its seats generally have more leg room.

So, once you get to your final destination, you’ll need a rental car.

Consumer Reports found plenty of rental car companies charging customers for things like child safety seats, satellite radio, emergency roadside assistance and even the privilege of using EZ Pass.

Consumer Reports Shopsmart checked fees at the nine big rental companies, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and Dollar.

“Car rental companies don’t make it easy to find the charges on their websites. But they certainly do a great job of loading on the fees when you return the car,” Lisa Lee Freeman from Consumer Reports said.

For instance, to add a second driver could tack on another $13 to $30 a day.

If the second driver is under 25-years-old, the fee can jump to more than $100 dollars a day.

If you lose the key,that can cost you $375.

You should also be especially careful about picking up the car in one place and dropping it off in another.

“The lowest drop-off charge we found was $50. But, believe it or not, in some cases Avis charges as much as $1,000 to drop off a car in another location,” Freeman said.

At Avis, if you return a car even 30 minutes late, you’ll be charged for nearly a full day.

With any car rental, be sure to fill up the tank before you drop off to avoid paying extra-high prices for gas.

However, there is some good news.

Starting later this year, airlines will be required to include all fees and taxes in their advertised fares.

As for the rental car companies, Consumer Reports said the number one thing to remember is to pay with a credit card.

That way, you can dispute any inaccurate charges.

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