Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What you need to know when choosing an airline

July 28, 2011 by  
Filed under travel

It used to be that most airlines had the same policies, offered similar services, snacks, etc. Today, however, airlines vary greatly, and it is important to know the following when choosing an airline:

Luggage allowances, and cost of checking luggage. In the past you could check 2 bags with each airline as part of your ticket cost. However, now, to cut costs, airlines are charging for any bags you want to check, at least some of them are. In addition, the way you check your bag will determine how much it is going to cost you to do so. For example, Delta charges $20 for your first checked bag, and $15 for every bag thereafter if you check them at the airport. However, if you go online and check them in before you leave, the cost is only $15 for the first bag. They do allow one carry on bag, plus a personal item such as a purse or laptop (although not both). Southwest on the other hand still allows you to check two bags for free. Jet Blue gives you the first checked bag free, and then you pay for any thereafter.

Food options. While this may not matter in some flights, such as those short commuter flights that are only a couple of hours, if you are flying across the country, or overseas, you are going to want to eat, so knowing what your options are is more important. Most airlines used to provide a meal on long flights, now they have meals available but you have to pay for them. So, you need to have some cash, because they do not accept credit cards.

Entertainment. Some people do not care what is offered by way of entertainment, but once again, on long flights, or flights with kids, etc. it is nice to know which airlines offer what. Most airlines offer an in-flight movie, some are for purchase, some are just complimentary. Some offer television, many now have internet access once you reach 10,000 feet (some free, some paid). Much of the time you have to purchase head phones, but typically your iPod headphones will work. Just remember, if you are going to buy any sort of entertainment in flight, you may need cash.

Seating. Some flights offer first come, first serve seating, others assign the seating. If you are flying with your children, or a group, it might be nice to get assigned seats because you will want to be together, and may not want to risk not getting a row big enough for you and all your children to be by each other.

Rules. There are different things allowed, etc. on different airlines. For example, on some flights an unaccompanied minor flies for the price of a ticket, nothing more. Other airlines charge a service fee because they will have a flight attendant accompany them to the gate to ensure they are picked up, etc. This can greatly impact the cost of your ticket.

Knowing these things can help you choose the right airline for your needs, and save you money. For example, if you were to fly from SLC to SAN, a ticket on United might cost you $280 round trip. The same flight on Southwest might cost you $300, but if you have to check two bags, the flight actually ends up costing less on Southwest, by $15-$20.

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