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Use Bundled Fees To Your Advantage When Booking Your Next Flight
Airlines are taking a cue from the cable and phone companies by bundling extra fees. Bundling fees can sometimes work to the consumer's advantage, but not always. Travel experts say the key is learning each airline's terminology.
Between checked baggage, preferred seating, early boarding and in-flight wi-fi airlines collected billions in fees from passengers in 2012.
For 2013, travel expert George Hobica says there's a new trend. "What we're finding though is many airlines now are bundling what used to be fees into fare add-ons and in some cases they're actually good values," said Hobica of Airfare Watchdog.
To find those values, each airline has its own terminology so it can get confusing when comparing across carriers.
American Airlines, for example, introduced bundles late last year. For coach fares, the most basic is called Choice. For $68 round-trip, Choice Essential with add-ons including a waiver of the airline's $150 change fee is more than worth it if you use it. Choice Plus comes with even more extras, $88 round-trip.
Frontier Airlines has tiers of economy, classic and classic plus with different extras.
Delta offers add-ons called Lift and Ascend.
Without reading the fine print, you may not know what you're missing or worse you may end up paying for things you don't need.
"In a way it's kind of like getting an all-you-can-eat buffet or an all-inclusive resort. It only pays if you're going to eat a lot or drink a lot, or you're going to use all of the facilities at the resort," said Hobica.
The take-away here is to do your own math. Don't let the airlines entice you. If you're not going to use most of what's offered in the bundle, you're wasting money.
By Deeda Payton