Top 7 Tips to Reduce The Cost of Flying
By Pauline Woods
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Airlines are screwing you on baggage fees, convenience fees, and holiday surcharges, read this to find out how to deal with all this. What can you do, you can’t get anywhere without paying for the flight - that is obvious. But does that mean the airlines have to take advantage of our dependence on their services? It looks like the answer is yes. In the last couple of years, airlines have been coming up with newer and more interesting ways to get us, their customers, to pay more. A few dollars here, a few dollars there, they come up with a way. They are quite creative about it and it doesn’t look like it is about to stop. What are we talking about? Keep reading.
- Checking Your Bags
About a year ago, US Airways introduced a two-level payment deal for checking your bags. If you don’t pay for your flight online, you have to pay an additional $5 when you get to the airport. The airlines call this a discount for online customers, but it is actually the opposite. All those people who didn’t think or know about paying online get charged the extra $5. And of course, as always happens in business, one company starts the ball rolling. Now United, Delta, Hawaiian and Continental all charge that extra $5. The fees for your taking your belongings with you on the plane have gone up too, and even more for international flights. You might be paying up to $25 for your first suitcase if you’re flying closer to home but fly from the U.S. to Europe or to other overseas destinations and you could be paying anywhere up to$60 for the second bag you check.
Nowadays, there are only two airlines that allow you to check your suitcases for free; Jet Blue (but only the first bag) and Southwest (two bags). Nice to know that there are still a couple of airlines who will do things the old way... It is a good idea to always check online for up-to-date airline fees. And while you’re looking into it, remember that the airlines find other services to charge us for. When you cancel or change your ticket, you get charged, and some of the airlines have a two-level system for this too. Three airlines that have such a twofold price structure for change fees are Alaska, Spirit, and Virgin America. The airlines make a lot of easy money because people so often change their plans.
- Carry-on Bags
Did you think you can take a small carry-on suitcase onto the flight for free? That is starting to change too. This year Spirit began to charge fees up to $45 for that bag you prefer to hold onto and not check. Only a small handbag that can be placed under the seat doesn’t get charged. What does this mean? Like you, we are waiting to see if the other airlines will join the party. If they do, then carry-on charges might be the way of the future. This sounds like a little too much – there is even one U.S. senator fighting against these charges. Let’s hope he succeeds in making his voice heard.
- Holiday Surcharges
There was a lot of talk when a few airlines started adding on an extra charge of up to $15 when you fly on a holiday or right before the holiday. Some argue that these charges are not really extra, as in any event the price of a flight will go up on one of those days. Think of it this way, they are raising the price for specific flights without raising prices for all of their flights. Either way you explain it, you pay more. The airlines first charged their customers the surcharge for Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday flights. United, US Airways, American, Continental and Delta all decided to continue charging this extra fee through 2010, so that people traveling for spring break or Memorial Day got stuck with it too. It looks like the holiday surcharge is not going anywhere. Maybe you think this extra charge won’t affect you, but it could certainly add up if you are flying with a group. Again, the best advice is to check online before booking your flight. On the way back from a holiday vacation, it could really make a difference to you to fly home on a day which doesn’t have these extra charges. Compare prices for different days carefully.
- “Convenience” fees
Did you think that the airlines couldn’t come up with anything else to charge you for? They have….Spirit charges for booking online (although you save by checking your luggage online), British Airways want $30 for selecting your seat ahead of time and Southwest expects an extra $10 if you ask to board first. As far as we know, no one charges for bathroom use yet…could that be the fee of the future?! The rumor is that Ryan Air is considering it!
- How do I deal with all of this?
If this is the question you are asking, then listen carefully. Certainly all these fees affect you – they make traveling more expensive for everyone. So you must be especially thorough when examining the costs of your trip, consider any added fees, whether it is for checking luggage, carry-on bags, or any other special services. Evaluate prices for different airlines and compare as carefully as you can. Then take the flight for the best price you can get for the day and time you want to fly.
- Remember Standby Travel?
Standby travel used to be quite common, especially for business-people or students with relaxed schedules. Today, it is almost non-existent - only JetBlue and Air Tran still allow standby passengers in the traditional manner. For those of you who don’t remember, flying standby is when a traveler bought a ticket for a flight to a specific destination, but either comes to the airport earlier and tries to get on an earlier flight to the same location, or in the case of someone who missed their flight, will try to take a later flight. Since the individual is not reserved for that specific flight, he may or may not actually get a seat. Today, there is something known as SDC “Same Day Confirmed” – this means you can change your flight on the same day as your reserved flight….for a fee of somewhere between $50 and $75. Most major airlines have this service.
- The Good News
If you’re wondering if there’s any good news, here it is! In this game of airline fees, it is the Online Travel Agencies that have eliminated many of the fees we are talking about! OTAs such as Travelocity, Orbitz and Expedia are eliminating airline booking fees and some of the other fees that the airlines have been adding on! Things used to be different. At first, you were paying more to book online, but that is all changed now. Some of the OTAs have even eliminated hidden hotel fees, even fees for a hotel change or cancellation. Our advice: working with one of the OTAs is the best way to go. Read the details on their websites thoroughly and decide which one is the right one for you. Happy Traveling!
The author writes articles about traveling particularly travel secrets and tips that airlines do not want anyone to know. More of her works are seen on [http://www.screwtheairlines.com].
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Article Submitted On: June 24, 2010