I love airline add-ons.
With a little planning, you might, too!
Airlines get a lot of bad press for charging extra for just about everything. What does this mean for travellers? Cheaper base flights and more options.
Today’s basic tickets are cheaper
Thanks in large part to the rise of low-cost carriers (LCC), today’s no-frills fares are cheaper than those in 1995. According to the US Department of Transportation’s inflation-adjusted table, US domestic fares have dropped 33.8%. Airfares around the globe have seen a similar drop.
With so much competition from LCC, airlines keep butt-in-seat prices rock bottom, and make up for it by putting a price on luxuries: choosing to sit with people you know and like, extra room in bulkhead rows, carry-on and checked bags, insurance, snacks, wifi and more.
Unbundling means saving
All these little charges add up! But an unbundled fare is fair. People who have or want extra stuff have to pay for it, not you. And it may provide some small comfort to know the bulky pram that delivered a screaming brat to your shared echo chamber, well, that buggy probably doesn’t fly for free.
How to fly without add-ons adding up
First thing: think carefully about what’s important for you. How important is that window seat? How tall are you? Do you really need wifi? How long is your trip? Do they sell toothpaste at your destination?
Check your wallet for hidden treasures
Many airline credit cards offer freebies. A more expensive flight booked with a loyalty card could end up saving you money with free checked bags, priority boarding, seat selection and more.
Keep the baggage emotional
An easy way to avoid fees is editing your stuff. Checked bags not only cost more, but you run the risk of your bag having a blast in Bangladesh while you shiver in Berlin. I love the fishing vest travel hack trending on TikTok, but if that’s not a look for you, what about loading up the (zippered!) pockets of your coat?
Need more room? Check out Baggage Pro for the lowdown on flying with luggage.
Stay on top of updates
Once you’ve booked your ticket, download the airline’s app. Apps are usually easier to navigate than websites. Pay attention to the notifications, especially for online check-in.
It’s the destination, not the journey
The person who lauded the Getting There over the There clearly never flew Economy Lite. But a randomly-assigned middle seat on a packed plane doesn’t have to mean financial misery. Whap in those noise-cancelling earbuds and focus on your destination, richer in the knowledge of how much money you’ve saved.