Ah, the airlines: everyone’s favourite company to despise. We’ve come a long way from the days of airline industry’s days of regulation and exclusivity – today, everybody can afford to fly, and the airlines can’t afford to miss any opportunity to pick from your pocket while you are en route.

I was just reading an article over on the Wall Street Journal about how little profit the airlines make. Interestingly, on their  “hypothetical” flight, passengers are paying $146 (£94) each way in airfare, and $18 (£12) in fees. In my experience, most holidaymakers are paying more in fees – luggage check can easily go well beyond that price, double that if you want a sandwich, and double it again if you fancy some in flight film or Wifi.

Don't jump, despite the temptation.

Don't jump, despite the temptation.

What have they done now? Well, a quick browse of recent airline news features:

  • Stripping down pre-boarding options – specifically, some airlines no longer allowing families to pre-board
  • More seating charges – you may find that on your next flight, if you’re travelling as a family or with a companion, you may get charged to sit together!
To add to the insult, I give you confusion: after all the recent rounds of increased baggage check fees, we saw passengers pour onto planes with bulging carryons and stuffing bags and purses under the seat in front of them. So now? Airlines are making the overhead bins bigger! You’ve got to love the mixed messages.

Plan on Fees

I think at this point it is safe to say that if your upcoming plans call for air travel, plan on saving a wee bit of your budget on fees. You should review your airline’s website and know what to expect. Do they charge for bags? What size can your carryon be? Can you check in online for discounts or to avoid fees?

Also, plan on trying to avoid certain fees. Food is likely not going to be free, so bring snacks. In-flight entertainment is not going to be free, so load up your Kindle/iPad/Game Player/Pile-of-Magazines before you get to the airport.

Should you consider alternative transport?

A lot of people ask me if they should just consider alternative transport and avoid the airlines altogether. The answer is it depends – a lot of times, air travel is the most economical choice, with trains filled to capacity and petrol prices going nowhere but up. The bottom line is to do the math – if you’re driving, you have to account for your wear and tear costs on the vehicle, as well as the fact that it takes longer.

And really, airline ticket prices have remained relatively stable compared to how much the airlines fuel costs have went up – they are doing as best as they can in being competitive. So be thankful that ticket prices are as low as they are.

Photo by irishflyguy

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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