Cost-Saving Tips for Airline Travelers

Not so long ago, it was unthinkable for airlines to charge money for checked-in luggage, in-flight meals and dozens of other components of the flight experience. These days, however, it seems that airlines are charging fees for virtually everything and are raising rates on a regular basis.

Travelers can be overwhelmed by the expenses, but by paying close attention to the situation and making advance preparations, they can tailor flight experiences to fit their needs and avoid unnecessary expenditures.

Here are some of basic cost-saving tips for airline travelers:

If you need to change a flight reservation, try to do it within 24 hours of the purchase, since by law you are then entitled to a full refund. It’s difficult to obtain full refunds after that time frame, but try to present your case to an airline representative. Airlines charge up to $200 to change a domestic ticket and more for international flights.

Try to pack light to avoid baggage fees. Most U.S. airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and $50 to $100 for additional bags. Make good use of your carry-on bag, which most airlines allow free of charge, although some budget airlines now charge a fee.

You might plan on paying extra money for a better seat, but keep in mind that prices vary widely for this service. Passengers normally pay $25 to $50, but the fee on long-distance international flights can exceed $300.

Bring food from home or purchase it at the airport. Some airlines don’t offer food for purchase, those that do have limited choices, and prices are generally excessive.

Since large carry-on bags have become the norm, it’s often advisable to get toward the front of the line of your boarding group. That way, you probably won’t need to worry about finding cabin space for your bag or have to store it far from where you’re sitting.

Airlines often charge hefty prices for viewing movies. So, bring your own entertainment, whether it’s printed literature, or games, movies and music on your cellphone or tablet. If you’re bringing an electronic device, check to find out if you plane has in-seat outlets; if it doesn’t, make sure the device is fully charged before boarding.

To save money on Wi-Fi, purchase a one-day pass through Gogo rather than pay as much as $30 to your carrier.

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