Last week I flew on an airline for the first time in over three years. As part of our get out of debt plan we cut back on travel over that time to save money. This was a tough sacrifice for my wife. All of her family lives on the opposite coast 2500 miles away. This isn’t to say none of the family has traveled, we shipped our kids over to visit the grandparents one summer and we have made several road trips as a family. We just have not logged any air miles as a family. So now being debt free we plan to travel more often. This is one of those first trips, sort of, as only my wife and I made this trip. We headed to the West Coast to attend a close family friend’s wedding and visit with family. It was perfect timing being right before the Holidays. We flew coach, are stayed with family and are borrowed a car, so overall cost are being kept in check, but what I forgot about since I haven’t step foot on a plane in over three plus years is how a la carte airlines have become.
The up-sell started a few days before our flight, we received an email stating that first class seats were available for the first leg of our flight (we had 1 connection) at a cost of $369 per person one way. The $369 is just slight under what we paid for a single round trip ticket. We didn’t bite.
The next was the day before when we checking in and were hit with a $25 per checked bag cost. We only had one, due to the personal care items we had packed we could carry them on.
Upon arrival at the airport and check in there we were offered a $39 per person preferred check in. I wasn’t even sure what that was, but we declined. I found out later that the extra $39 allowed you to board the plane in between the first class, business class and every other class and coach. So basically you are paying to board before coach. Not worth it.
Once on board and in flight there was any an announcement made about WiFi. That WiFi was available on the plane. I figured I’d check in on my blog, beat a fill levels of candy crush, you know kill some time. I connected with no issues, but when I hit my browser I could connect to the Internet. Then I got the dreaded pop up with the WiFi pricing options. $10 for 30 minutes, $20 for 60 minutes and the low, low price of $34.95 for an all day pass. I passed again.
Next was the beverage and food service. I was glad to see that soft drinks, coffee, tea, juice and water were still complimentary. Wine, beer and spirits are not and ranged from $7 to 15.99. We stuck with the free stuff. We did cave on the food and snacks. Although the $3 bag of M and Ms was tempting we stuck with a snack pack $6.99 and fruit & nut mix $5. The highest priced item was a southwest chicken salad for 8.99, not too bad. The flight attendants were all equipped with portable credit/debit card readers willing to swipe away your purchase.
The last and not least was about ¾ of the way through the flight an announcement was made for an incredible credit card offer that was being made available to us today, and only if we signed up while on board. It was a Mater Card with APRs that ranged from 15.99 to 24.99% depending on your creditworthiness. It did feature a 50,000 bonus mile sign up, which equals 2 round trip tickets. We again passed on the offer just not ready to take the plunge.
I guess I’m just a bit rusty and need to get my travel game face on as we are planning at least two more trips in the next 6-8 months. I really need to settle in on travel rewards card to help minimize cost going forward. I’m just not there yet.
What’s the one cost you can’t stand from airlines? How do you save money when traveling?