Expert: Flight bundles can be win-win for airlines, travelers

Much like cable companies, cell phone providers and Internet companies, airlines are now bundling extras on individual flights
December 23, 2013 8:25:26 PM PST
When it comes to air travel, if you like your extras a la carte, the fees can add up quickly. From extra legroom, to priority boarding to checked baggage charges, there are all sorts of ways to customize your travel. Now, packaging the perks is a trend that's taking off from bundles to subscription services.

Much like cable companies, cell phone providers and Internet companies, airlines are now bundling extras on individual flights. Different packages offer combinations of services such as free checked bags, priority boarding, no change fees, free Wi-Fi or extra frequent flyer miles.

"You're able to take multiple things, package them together, charge a lower price for each, the airline makes more and you get more things that you want," said Gary Leff with viewfromthewing.com.?

Some airlines are also experimenting with subscription services, allowing you to pay a flat fee for benefits on any flights you take within a set time period.

"A subscription service enables them to guarantee that they're going to have that seat available to them, guarantee that they're going to have that free checked bag," said Airlines for America Senior Vice President Jean Medina.?

Airlines for America, the commercial airline trade association, says these packages and subscriptions allow consumers to get a better prices on the extras they want while airlines make the revenue they need.

"Last year the airlines made 37 cents per enplaned passenger. Had they not offered additional services that customers were willing to pay for, they would have lost $8 per passenger," Medina said.

But Leff says it's important to examine each package or subscription to make sure it's really going to be worth it for you.

"A subscription really locks you into a single airline, and over time, you may wind up paying more in airfare if you pick the same airline over and over than you would if you were going to go around and shop for the lowest price each time," Leff said.?

In addition, keep in mind the routes you regularly travel. Regional jets may not have extra legroom seats, and smaller airports may not have a priority security line.

"You're not going to get a refund, a pro-rated portion back, because a given flight the benefit isn't available," Leff said.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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