Keeping Discount Airlines Discounted

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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….

Cancellation Insurance:

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.

Baggage Fee:

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.

Bonus Perk:

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!

So Apparently I’ve been to Paris…

My mom and I were going to the Netherlands to visit family, and we decided to tack on a trip in the beginning to Paris. Mom was coming from Costa Rica and I was coming from Florida. We managed to get flights that would meet up in New York, so we could do the last legs together. That sounds all well and good, except I had to leave Florida at 6 AM and then wait in JFK for 6 hours until she got there, then another 2 hours wait for the flight to Amsterdam and then connection to Paris. Needless to say, it was and long day and I maybe slept 1 hour the whole time. I am not one of those people that is blessed with the ability to sleep on planes. It was around 8AM when we arrived in Paris and we couldn’t check into the hotel until 1PM! Thankfully, we were allowed to drop our luggage there, so we at least didn’t have to walk around the city with them! You can see bags the size of the Boeing airplanes under our eyes in the pictures from that morning…

Paris Cafe

Paris Cafe 2

It was such a gorgeous day and we tried to enjoy it to the best of our abilities. After a few hours of dragging ourselves around, we saw a cute little park that was full of people sitting in the sun, having picnics. We found an empty bench and thought we would sit for just a few minutes… HA!… We. Passed. Out. In the middle of all the bustling activity of a gorgeous Parisian morning, there were two tourists, mouths agape, heads fallen backwards, probably drooling and oblivious to the world. After about 45 minutes we became conscious again (maybe the locals had made a game of hitting us with bread crumbs or something), had a good laugh and shrugged it off by saying we’d never see these people again. This pretty much sums up our first day, besides a marathon nap (actually in our hotel this time) and a nice dinner at a street cafe. There is much more to say about Paris, but that’s for another post 🙂