How to Avoid Spending Money on Airline “Extras”

in Family Vacations, Traveling with Kids, Trip Planning

If you’re a regular traveler, it will come as no shock whatsoever that what used come standard for the price of airfare (from in-flight meals to checked bags), is now considered “extra.”

Even though paying $30 (or more) for a checked bag may not seem like a big deal when you’re just trying to get to your destination, these costs can add up over time (especially if you’re traveling with a family).

Here are some tips for reducing your airline “extras” fees without sacrificing comfort and convenience.

The “Great Luggage Debacle”

To check or not to check? That is the question for many airline passengers these days.  If the airline assesses a fee for checked baggage, my general advice is don’t do it. However, there are some ways to get around this fee. Delta card holders receive one free checked bag for each person on the reservation. For example, last year my mother booked a flight for herself, my sister and me. Even though my sister and I were not Delta card members, we were allowed to check our bags for free as well. If you do decide to check a bag, make sure it is under the maximum weight limit (typically 44 pounds) so that you are not assessed extra fees.

Of course, the easiest way to get around the luggage fees is to pack everything you need in a carry-on. You are allowed to bring both a carry-on and a personal item (purse, laptop, etc.) on most major carriers. The standard carry-on maximum size is 45″, in the form of a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ bag.  Some airlines allow up to as much as 55″ (this is rare). For weight and size restrinctions, always check with your specific carrier before you begin packing.

Afraid you can’t fit all you need in a carry-on? Follow these simple guidelines for packing light (and “security friendly”) and you’ll be good to go.

1.     Plan out what you will wear each day to avoid overpacking on clothes. Remember that you can rewear most things. Also, check to see if there will be laundry facilities where you are staying (this way, you can pack half as much and do laundry half-way through the trip). Be realistic about shoes. One comfy pair and one nice pair is typically all you’ll need.

2.     Make sure to put all liquid in 3 oz. (or less) containers. This will both allow you to get through security with no issues and will force you to pack lighter.

3.     Remember that sharp objects may cause problems when you go through security.

Keep in mind that if you buy bulky souvenirs on your trip, it’s a good idea to have them shipped back home (which often ends up being cheaper and safer than bringing them to the airport).

Bon Appétit!

Let’s face it, airline food is not exactly synonymous with fine dining, so why are paying for food you won’t even enjoy that much? Instead for forking out your vacation money on in-flight meals, plan ahead. Most major airports have a variety of dining and food-to-go options. Either eat a good meal before you get on the plane, or grab a sandwich and beverage (after you go through security, of course) to enjoy mid-flight. And don’t forget about the snacks. Young travelers in particular stay happier with healthy snacks like dried fruit and trail mix to munch on during the flight.

Follow these simple words of advice and you could end up saving hundreds of dollars by not purchasing airline “extras” throughout the 2011 traveling year.

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