If you’re going to want a snack or what some extra legroom on your next flight, you better have some extra cash handy because these days airlines are charging for more of these “extra’s” than ever before. In fact, the airlines brought in more than $27 billion last year in extra charges for things that used to be included for free. Some airlines actually earned a fifth of their total revenue from these extra fees and average over $30 per passenger in these fees alone.
While most people are loath to pay anything extra when traveling by plane, especially considering that it’s so darned expensive already, there are actually a few extras that might be worth paying for, depending on the length of your trip. Now we’re not talking about the $10 that Spirit Airlines will charge you for printing out your boarding pass or the $100 (in some cases) that Frontier will charge you for a carry-on bag, because we still believe these extra charges are quite ridiculous.
On the other hand, if you’re making a long flight or want to make that boring layover little bit more bearable, here are a few extras that you might just consider paying a little bit extra for. Enjoy.
Extra #1: “Premium” economy seats. Going under names like “premium economy” or “economy comfort”, these seats typically offer a bit more legroom as well as letting you recline your seat back a little bit further. Some also come with electrical outlets so that you can charge your laptop or your smart phone. Depending on the carrier and the flight, these seats will cost you from $10 to $50 extra. The reason it might be worth it: On a short flight it’s not but, if you are on a flight that is going to be three hours or more, having that little bit of extra legroom or a plug for your laptop starts to make sense. Before you pay for this extra make sure it take a look at what the airline is offering as it can vary significantly.
Extra #2: In-flight Wi-Fi. These days almost every airline is charging for Wi-Fi and the average is about $12 per flight. The reason it might be worth it: Besides the obvious ability to check your email and surf the Internet, being able to get some work done on the long flight makes enough sense that this is actually the most popular extra that people are paying for. Even though you can’t stream video or music, having Wi-Fi on a long flight will allow you to get work done, check in with friends and family and stay connected. Some airlines are offering package deals that will lower the cost of bit and, if you travel with your family, everyone can share the same subscription.
Extra #3:Paid Seat assignments. There’s almost nothing worse than being stuck in the middle seat between two “large” people on a long flight. In days past it was easy to get an aisle or a window seat if you booked early enough or even if you showed up at the airport early enough, but not anymore. Today there are many airlines charging for the privilege of picking your seat ahead of time (from $1 to $50). The reason it might be worth it: Again it has to do with whether or not you’re taking a long flight. If it’s a one or two hour hop then it probably isn’t worth it but, if you’re traveling long-distance or with your family, it might be much easier to pick seats that are near the front or back of the airplane and closer to the bathrooms.
Extra #4: Buying an airline lounge pass for one day. Located in most airports, airline lounge areas have all sorts of perks like snacks, alcoholic beverages and Wi-Fi. They also, in general, are quieter and have more comfortable seats. A one-day pass will set you back about $50 and, if you’re traveling with children under three, they can join you in the lounge for free The reason it might be worth it: if you have a long flight or multiple stopovers buying a one-day airline lounge pass makes sense, especially if those stopovers are going to be several hours. Even better, if you happen to have an airline credit card you might be able to get this extra at no cost. (Of course keep in mind that these cards usually have high annual fees that might make getting one just for the lounge pass a bad idea.)
So, while most of us will balk at almost all of the “extras” that airlines are now charging for, the floor above might be worth paying for if you’re going to be taking an extra-long flight or traveling with small children. If you travel often but your flights are usually short, save your money, bring your own snacks and choose your airline wisely.