It seems like each year travelers are eating more and more fees as airlines continue to add upcharges for overhead bin space, checked bags, in-flight snacks and other features people used to expect when they paid for a ticket. The days of paying for your flight and getting all the other amenities for free are long gone, and the costs of those comforts and conveniences fliers used to enjoy can add up fast. Here are some easy ways to avoid the unexpected and hidden costs of air travel:
Never book your ticket over the phone – These days, we’re all so used to shopping online that booking your flights that way is like second nature. Still there can be times when you have questions and you think it may be easiest to call someone at the airline to get the info you need. Fortunately, that’s still free, but many airlines will charge you if you use the agent to book your flight over the phone. Instead, make the call, take notes on the answers to your questions and use that info to book your ticket via the airline’s website.
Squeeze a little more into your personal bag – The extra fee to put a piece of carry-on luggage in the overhead bin used to only affect travelers on budget airlines, but some of the major ones are starting to squeeze you for the extra money here too. If you’re stuck with a carrier that charges for your carry-on, you can still get a change of clothes, some travel-size toiletries and personal items like your best eye mask on board for free by carefully packing a spacious backpack. If you’re just going for a quick weekend trip, that may be all you need!
Ask nicely for a better seat – Most airlines now charge you to book the convenient seats near the front of the main cabin or a spacious seat on an exit row. Some who want to get off the plane quickly at the gate or who appreciate a little extra space are willing to pay the premium cost, but many times a few of those seats will go unsold. Arrive early and talk to an agent instead of using the automated kiosk; if you ask nicely, they may let you change to one of those unsold seats without the added cost.
Bring your own pillow – Some airlines even charge for pillows and blankets now. If you’re planning to catch some Z’s on your flight, you may want to bring your own. Travel neck pillows are a much better option and the best travel pillows can be folded compactly or inflated once you’re on board to save room in your bag.
Take your entertainment to go – If you’re not a big airplane sleeper or need something to keep you entertained on a long flight, pre-load that documentary you keep meaning to watch or a few episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” onto your phone or tablet before you head to the airport. Popular streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video now let you download content to watch later, when you don’t have Wi-Fi or a data connection. Bringing your own entertainment can prevent you from needing to pay a premium price for an in-flight movie rental.
A little planning ahead goes a long way, so consider these tips before your next trip. That way, you can save some extra money for even more fulfilling travel experiences.