When it pays for flyers to buy a tiny piece a comfort
Sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra.
Airlines are raking in the fees, collecting a massive $28 billion in so-called “ancillary revenue” — that includes everything from bag fees to upcharges for more comfortable seating — in 2016, according to a report of the top 10 airlines released in July by IdeaWorks. That’s up from just $2.1 billion in 2007. Spirit Airlines, which almost proudly touts its use of fees http://marketing.spirit.com/how-to-fly-spirit-airlines/en/, takes the most per passenger at $49.89, followed by Allegiant ($48.93 per person) and Frontier.
Passengers, of course, hate airline fees. An overwhelming 84% say they don’t like them and support the statement “airlines are nickel-and-diming passengers,” according to a FindLaw survey.
But some fees can be worth it to pay. “Fees that are for the sake of your sanity, for a more enjoyable experience, are on occasion worth paying,” says Gabe Saglie, a senior editor at travel deals site Travelzoo.com. Here are three:
Many airlines offer a lounge for passengers for a fee of about $50 a day. It might sound like a lot, but think about what you get: food, drink, a comfy seat and WiFi. George Hobica, the founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, says that paying this fee can be worth it if you have three hours or more between a connecting flight. Added bonus? The customer service line are often way shorter in a lounge, which means that if your flight is delayed and you want to get on another flight, you can get helped much faster, Saglie says.
The better seat
Sometimes even first-class seats aren’t crazy expensive — that is, if you get them at the last minute. In fact, you may pay as little as $50 for a first-class upgrade a shorter flight, says Hobica. The extra legroom and better service and food can make the experience worth the price.
Even if you can’t snag a first-class upgrade on the cheap, it may pay to upgrade your seat, as airplane seats now have less legroom, less width and less padding on the seats — and a bad seat might even be harmful for your health. That’s why it’s often worth it to pay extra for extra legroom or an exit row, says Peter Vlitas, the senior vice president of airline relations for Travel Leaders Group. He says this is particularly true on transatlantic flights because of the time you spend in the air. But, as Hobica points out, even a short flight can take way longer one you figure in delays and runway times, so it may be worth it to purchase this even on shorter flight; check to see if your route is one of the commonly delayed ones.
Also see: 6 secrets to scoring a more comfortable airline seat
Luggage delivery service
Flying with kids and a ton of bags is hard enough, and after a long flight the last thing you want to do is make your kids wait for the bags at baggage claim and then try to lug them and all that luggage into a car and into the hotel. Some of the major airlines are trying to help with this problem. In addition to the checked bag fee, you can pay a fee to just drop your luggage off at the ticket counter upon arrival, and then have it delivered to the hotel or home you’re staying at. Saglie says this service can be worth it if you’re traveling with lots of baggage.
Indeed, American Airlines, for example, charges $29.95 for one bag, $39.95 for two bags and $49.95 for 3-10 bags for this service. You check your bags at the ticket counter and they will deliver your bags to your final destination within 40 miles of the airport within 4-6 hours. If you’re going further than 40 miles from the airport, it’s $1 per mile extra.
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