The cost of flying, along with everything else, is so much more expensive than it used to be! This has created a new breed of airline, the “Discount Airline.” Overall, it’s a great concept, but you have to be careful of hidden fees and surcharges. When little things add up, your “discount ticket” can end up costing more than a regular airline. Here are some tips that I’ve learned:
Seat Selection Fee:
This was the first and the sneakiest fee that I came across on my most recent ticket purchase. The transition was so smooth between the ticket date and time selection to the seat selection that it was easy to miss a few things. Those few things would be the $18 per seat the airline wanted to charge as well as the fine print at the bottom stating that I could skip this step if I chose. Once I decided to skip, an annoying little pop-up basically said, “Are you sure you want to skip this step? If you do, we will place you between a large smelly fellow and a screaming baby.” Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Plenty of seats were still open, so as long as you get to the airport in plenty of time, you should still be able to sit with your traveling companion. Worst case scenario,
you’re stuck between a smelly fellow and a screaming baby… you can ask someone to switch with you after boarding….
Maybe it’s just me, but paying $30 in cancellation insurance for a $42 flight seems a little excessive. Not only did rejecting this fee come with another threatening pop-up, but it also came with a long waiver that forces you to lie and say that you have “read and understand” their unreasonably long disclosure. There are some cases where insurance is fantastic, like auto or health insurance, but cancellation insurance just doesn’t seem worth it to me. I also figure that if I were to add up all the money I have saved by not buying insurance, it would more than cover any money that I might lose if I had to cancel a flight sometime in the future.
This is the one instance where I would recommend accepting the charge. The fee is pretty much unavoidable, unless you are vacationing to a nudist colony (to each their own), and it is much cheaper to pay the baggage fee in advance rather than at the airport. For all the nudist out there, they do allow you to have one small carry-on that can fit under your seat which can perfectly carry the few things that you’ll be needing, like lots sunscreen and a pair of flip-flops. For the rest of us though, we need at least one carry-on bag. Normally I travel with one rolling carry-on and a laptop bag. There’s a small fee for the rolling carry-on or a larger fee if you need to check a bigger suitcase. Another trick I have learned, for non-discount airlines like Delta, is to always pack my rolling carry-on bag like a checked bag. In other words, nothing in it that’s valuable and could get broken or stolen. 99% of the time, the carry-on space will get too full in the cabin and the flight staff will offer to check your carry-on for free! This is especially handy if you have a quick transfer at an airport. You won’t be stuck sprinting through crowded airports rolling your suitcase over everyone’s toes. People don’t generally like that for whatever reason…
Don’t come hungry!
They may offer you water, but don’t get crazy and ask for some juice because you’ll definitely pay for it. Normally there will be snacks for sale too, but who wants to pay $5 for off-brand, stale peanuts? I prefer to bring my own pack of stale peanuts that I accidentally left in my suitcase from the last time I flew and decide again not to eat them.. Really though, bring a snack. Unfortunately, you should probably buy one of those bottles of water in the terminal that seems like it would be filled with gold flakes for the price that you’ll have to pay. It will be worth it though, because the only thing worse than sitting in dry airplane air is being thirsty while sitting in dry airplane air.
One thing that is really great about discount airlines is that they often fly from smaller airports. For instance Allegiant doesn’t fly from the main Tampa airport, but from the St. Pete/Tampa airport. These airports are much less busy, so no long lines and a lot less “hurry up and wait.”
These are just a few things that have worked for me, but let me know if you have any other tips or travel stories!