Sunday, November 27, 2011

Promising Help for Airline Travelers

The cost to fly increases every year. What airlines fail to realize is that with every price increase, the number of passengers decreases. Everyone recognizes the high cost of gas but what is the justification for charging $100 for an oversized bag, $9 for a bag of peanuts or charging up to $150 for a child traveling alone. It would help me and possibly other travelers if the airlines explained why they charge the additional fees and how they determine the various prices.

Airlines began charging for baggage when rising fuel prices started to rise in 2005 and reached an all-time high in 2008 when the recession occurred. Airlines complained that they were not making enough money which is why they had to start charging customers additional fees. I wonder if their executives took a reduced salary to help minimize the profit loss. Not!

Some airlines allow you to travel with your first bag for free but few and far in between. Here is a breakdown of the top airline baggage fees: AirTran 1st bag $20, Southwest 1st bag free, American 1st bag $25, Delta 1st bag $25, JetBlue 1st bag free, United 1st bag $25 and US Airways 1st bag $25. Airlines charge for meals, oversized bags, baggage, traveling with a pet and an unaccompanied minor fee just to name a few. Traveling fees can range from $3- $584 in addition to airfare.

Senator Mary Landrieu has introduced a bill that would allow all passengers no matter what seating to check one bag for free. Senator Landrieu stated, “Many airlines consider checking a bag not to be a right, but a privilege — and one with a hefty fee attached,” and stated her legislation would “guarantee passengers one checked bag without the financial burden of paying a fee, or the headache of trying to fit everything into a carry-on.”

The bill would allow airline passengers to check one bag for free and prohibit fees for regular sized carry-on baggage. The bill would require that airlines tell passengers about restrictions on weight, size and number of bags prior to arriving at the airport. It would also mandate that airlines make public their fees for all types of baggage and for preferred seating.

As travel fees continue to increase, passengers will continue to find ways to carry on as much baggage as possible to save money. Eventually the fees charged by the airlines will backfire on them and they will be forced to lower their prices or go out of business. During the Thanksgiving holiday more passengers rode Amtrak and Greyhound or drove instead of flying. Here are 10 tips for saving money when flying:

1. Dates. Fly before a holiday and return after a holiday. Consider flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday during non-holiday periods. Traveling during Christmas and New Year’s is more expensive than traveling during Thanksgiving.
2. Read. Sign up for frequent flyer programs and credit card or checking rewards program that offer airline points. Read the terms and look for partners that offer miles.
3. Delay. Consider purchasing a flight with a layover to earn more miles and get a cheaper fare.
4. Earn Miles. If you don’t fly enough to use your miles some programs allow you to cash in your miles for subscriptions, gift cards or donations.
5. Trade. Ask about trading your frequent flyer miles for another airline’s frequent flyer miles using sites like
6. Buy. You can buy frequent flyer miles to boost your account balance.
7. Borrow. If you know a friend or family member that is not using their frequent flyer miles they can share their frequent flyer miles with you through the airline or through
8. Sell. You can sell your frequent flyer miles at sites like
9. Weekend. Consider staying over on a Saturday night. This will save you money on airfare on hotel costs.
10. Early. Book your flight months in advance and sign up for flight alerts. Comparison shop to find the best deal.

No comments: