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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Strategies for Avoiding Airline Fees

With all the fees imposed on us by the airlines, it’s more important than ever to save money wherever you can. Once you buy your plane tickets, you may assume you are done paying for your flight, but no. Now you can be charged for everything from your baggage to a snack. How can you avoid paying more and still have a great journey?

Pack light. You can save up to $35 each way by not checking bags. Make sure you can mix and match your clothing to be able to take less and still maximize your looks. If all tops coordinate with all bottoms, it makes putting outfits together a cinch. Pare down to two pairs of shoes – one casual, one a bit dressy – and stash a few key accessories into your carry-on to dress up something boring or wear it another way.
Headphones are easy to pack and can save you a few bucks. Want to watch that in-flight movie or listen to some music? You can’t do it without a set of headphones, but why pay $3 for the generic ones the airlines will grudgingly sell to you when you can grab a pair from home that will probably even last after your flight is over. Plus, if you plan to bring your iPod with you anyway, you’re already set.

Stock up on snacks. It can be fun to get treats and meals onboard the plane, but many routes don’t give you the option of an in-flight meal anymore. The ones that do may charge you up to $10 for a lukewarm TV dinner. Pack some veggies, trail mix, sandwiches or anything else you love to nosh on (that adheres to TSA security measures) and save money by not purchasing the “cheese plate” and also eat healthier.

Go offline. The Internet is fun and all, but you don’t need to be connected at all times. Use your flight time to relax and enjoy a movie, read a book or play a game with a travel companion, not catch up on e-mail. Cabin Wi-Fi can start at $4.95 and go up in price with the length of your flight. Your Facebook friends and blog will all still be there when you touch down. If you must post while you’re traveling, use a service like HootSuite to set up posts in advance and respond to anything once you reach your destination.
Say no to the upgrade. While you don’t often get offered an upgrade on most flights when you check in, avoid asking if there is one available, since often they will give you one if you are willing to pay extra for it (and seats are actually available). If you got a great deal on your plane ticket, adding an extra $49-99 each way can end up making it out of your original price range. That money can easily be used on your vacation instead of getting to it.

When you change the way you travel in small ways, it can make a big difference to your wallet, allowing you to travel more efficiently and do more at your destination. Once you incorporate some changes, you’ll see how easy it is to slowly change other things to save even more. Whether you do it to fit more into your budget, to spend less overall or to stay at a pricier hotel, saving a little bit here and there can add up quickly. How to you make flying cheaper?

This post originally appeared on FareCompare.
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