Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2009

Add Up the Extras

Airlines are unbundling services that used to be included in the fare — snacks, checked bags, entertainment, wi-fi, seat selection. In other words, the airline experience is becoming à la carte, with fees for everything. TripAdvisor.com's meta flight search allows you to compare the entire flight cost, including fees (for checked bags, entertainment, and food and drinks), and Kayak.com has added a Calculate Baggage Fees tool. SmarterTravel.com has a helpful downloadable chart listing all major airline fees. The only airlines that don't charge to check a bag for domestic flights are Southwest and JetBlue. (Checked bags are still free on most long-haul international flights.) And airlines have cut way back on baggage personnel — so the wait at the carousel is even more brutal now — as is the wait to check in. If you can pack in a single carry-on bag, do so.