4 airlines fees actually worth paying
Spending a little extra can make flying a little less miserable.
This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.
Want a snack on your next flight, or an extra inch of legroom? You better pony up some cash because airlines are charging for more "perks" than ever before. While many of the new fees can and probably should be avoided, experts say, some are well worth it.
Last year, the airlines raked in more than $27 billion in fees and extra charges, which is more than double the take from 2009, according to an analysis by consulting group IdeaWorksCompany . Some airlines make an average of $30 per passenger from fees alone and earn one fifth of their total revenue from fees.
Among the fees worth skipping are: printing your boarding pass (Spirit Airlines charges $10 for passes printed by one of its staff members), onboard snacks (most airlines charge for at least premium snacks), and booking by phone ($10 on Spirit). Some carriers like Frontier now charge for carry-on bags ($25 - $100 if you book your flight through a third party), so make sure the total cost of your ticket, with these fees included, is still worth the price — or else opt for an airline that doesn't have these fees. Even the popular priority boarding fee is something you may want to skip, experts say. If you're one of the first to board right when your zone is called, you can usually get your bag on the plane, says Alex Trettin, the president of the Travel Leaders franchise in Tacoma.
Still, there are fees that even the budget-conscious may want to consider paying — if only to make a long flight or irritating layover more bearable. Here are four:
Premium economy seats
These seats, which have a variety of names like "economy comfort" and "premium economy" typically offer more legroom, as well as the ability to recline further and power outlets for charging laptops and phones. It usually costs about $10 to $50 to get one of these seats, depending on the length of the flight, says Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com.
When it's worth it: Seaney says this upgrade isn't typically a good deal on short flights, but "once you hit the three-hour mark, these fees start to look better." Make sure you look at what these premium seats offer — how many inches of legroom and other perks (some even throw in priority boarding) — as it varies significantly by airline.
One-day airline lounge passes
The lounge areas for airlines have perks like free snacks and drinks (sometimes including beer and wine), free Wi-Fi, as well as quieter areas and nicer seats than in the general waiting area. The price for a one-day pass is about $50 and passengers can usually bring small children (under age 2 or 3) in for free.
When it's worth it: "For a long layover of two hours or more that's worth it," says Trettin. And it may be especially worth it for those with multiple stops, since many airlines let you use this in each of the locales (as long as it's on the same day), adds Bonnie Lee, the CEO of the Travel Leaders franchise in Albertville, Minn. So if you take off in one airport and have a layover in another, you could use the lounge in both, she explains. Note that if you have an airline credit card, you may be able to get this perk for free (just beware of the annual fees and other charges that these cards carry).
As anyone who's been relegated to the middle seat and then sandwiched between two large people knows, the middle seat can be a recipe for a very uncomfortable flight. It used to be that you could guarantee yourself an aisle or window if you just booked early and picked your location, but now some airlines like Spirit are charging you to pick a seat (their fees between $1 and $50). "If you don't buy a seat, it's a free for all," says Kim Reicherter-Spect, a travel agent with Tzell Travel in New York. "You don't want that."
When it's worth it: Seaney says that like premium economy seats, picking your seat can be worth the money on longer flights, usually those that are three hours or more. Lee says that picking a seat is especially good for families with young children, who want easy access to the front or back of the plane near the bathrooms.
Many airlines charge for Wi-Fi —S outhwest charges $8 per day per device, Delta and American charge $14 — and while travelers grumble about paying it, it's often worth it, experts say. "This is one of the biggest fees we see people paying for," says Trettin, as it not only provides entertainment to passengers (and a break from the sometimes limited in-flight TV and movie options, even though you usually can't stream video and music), but also the ability to get work done.
When it's worth it: Wi-Fi is often worth it for long flights, especially on airlines that have limited entertainment options. Frequent travelers may especially benefit from this, as there are package deals (a monthly subscription to Delta and American's Wi-Fi costs about $40) that can help them save money. Lee says that families may also benefit quite a bit, as they can buy one monthly subscription and share that cost by sharing the login.
More from MarketWatch:
Awesome perks included...
1 - My wife came along at no extra charge.
2 - Leg room galore.
3 - I was allowed to smoke a cigar on the way.
4 - I didn't have to get molested by TSA goons.
5 - I brought all the luggage I wanted at no extra charge.
6 - I got to see out the front window.
7 - Affordable snacks and drinks.
8 - No loud mouthed idiots.
9 - Nobody behind me spreading what ever disease they happen to have at the moment.
10 - We left on time and arrived on time.
"Limited entertainment options"... Gee, has it occurred to you to read a book?
And if other people are allowed to bring screaming babies into the airport lounge, doesn't that defeat the point of peace and comfort for $50?
Sure glad all the Hotels I stay in don't treat me like Airlines ... you know > pay $119.00 for a room and then when you show up ...
$23 for sheets and Pillows
$18 for Towels
$27 for TV access
$14 for wifi
$6 for soap
$32 for Air Conditioner
$43 for parking my rental
$11 Every time I use the elevator
Airlines shouldn't be allowed to charge extra for seat assignments unless the seat has increased legroom. Charging a customer extra just to sit in an aisle seat or at the front of the cabin is just sleazy.
The #1 reason why airlines are forced to keep coming up with new and exciting ways to gouge their customers is because of increased fuel costs. And who is to blame for increased fuel costs? The Evil Religion-controlled OPEC. They fix the price of oil and sell it to infidel nations at extortionately high levels whilst people in Evil Religion countries can fill up for only a few cents per gallon. So, if you're pissed off about high fares and add-on fees, blame the Evil Religion!!! OPEC hu Akbar!
Why is it that we have become so accustomed to these "airline fees" that we forget that most of these "perks" that we now must have, and pay for, were free just a few short years ago?? Why are there differences in seat leg room, as currently offered by the airlines?-- it use to be that we all got the same space. But now the airlines take from one set of passengers in order to "create" a chargeable perk for the few that want what we all use to have-- for free!! Just look at baggage fees as another example of similar "fee mania"!! It is no wonder that airlines rank low in customer surveys-- and that more people are driving, than flying, to close destinations. Face it folks-- do we really need any of these perks at all when we fly?? The max that you are on a domestic flight is 5 hours-- and that is only if it is a nonstop-- a certain rarity in today's airline scheduling,-- so why pay for these " benefits", since you probably will only be in the air a couple of hours, tops, on any one flight segment. Tell me you can't be "inconvenienced" without an internet connection for that long, or is it that you are so vain that you don't want others to think less of you for sitting in a NORMAL economy seat!!?? International flights are different-- but most of these annoying fees don't apply to those flights. So are we that addicted to our cell phones and tablets that we can't go an hour or 2 without them on domestic flight? Come on, get real. Wifi for work sounds good-- but, between the "no electronic devices" periods and the number of times you, or your seat partners, "want to get up"-- just how much work can you do?-- let alone the fact that you are attempting to perform any work at all on a plane-- (by the way--if that is a necessity in your job, then you have greater issues than airline fees and perks).
We all bought on to these airline fees and charges when the airlines were crying and bemoaning about high fuel costs a few years ago, so we all accepted "fees" to help them out with costs. Now all of that "higher cost" structure is in the past, "except the fees" because the airlines have found them to be a "honeypot" to gouge the air traveler, even though they readily admit that their "cost crisis" has long passed. Greed now takes the day; and the airlines just want to sweeten their "bottom line" by adding fees to that which they had historically provided to the air traveler as part of their travel experience!! Currently they want to "al a cart" everything in their list of flight amenities which entails "up charges"; and we the "traveler lemmings" just run down that fiscal path that enhances their profits margins without substantial objection because we are too self involved in getting something better than the other guy regardless of the cost!! How disgusting that we air travelers have developed such little "backbone" in the past few years!!!
Who rates Good, etc. I don't need luxuries, I need a cost I can afford. For this the guy at the top, who used to make $9m in 2011 is probably making a lot more and telling everyone who they are not making enough money. Poo.
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