Flight Perks, Included or Not?

By Christina VanGinkel

With everything going up in prices, that airlines are raising theirs should come as no surprise. One way that some of the larger airlines are competing is by taking away services that were once considered standard, perks such as free snacks on board flights both moderate and long in length, replacing them with snacks to purchase. It is not just snacks though, that are disappearing in a trend whose ultimate aim is to save the bottom dollar, but features such as curbside checking of bags, which can now cost you a flat fee per bag, and cash up front please!

In order to know what you are getting with the cost of your ticket, and to better help you plan your trip, you should ask your travel agent to be as specific as possible so you can be prepared with a few dollars of cash in your pocket if necessary. If you are not using a travel agent, which is a trend more and more of us are following to save ourselves as much on the increased cost of flying as we can, then be sure to check the website of whichever airline you are traveling for information related to the flight. You will often be able to find out such information pertaining to not only the price of what the ‘extras’ will cost, but also what exactly is included. American Airlines for example offers snack boxes of various assortments, and you can find out online what is included in each snack pack and the cost of each one. Non-alcoholic beverages are available free on most flights, and alcoholic beverages are usually available for a fee. Some airlines recently test ran a small section of the market to see how the average consumer would feel about paying for their beverages, even the non-alcoholic ones, and it apparently did not go over well, as the last I heard of it, the testing had been suspended, and that airline was once again offering their non-alcoholic beverages free to all of its customers.

American Airlines also offers entertainment choices on some of their flights, such as movies, music, and access to some favorite television broadcasts, ranging from news and sports, to sitcoms and nighttime entertainment. When available, depending on the flight, you will have to either bring along your own set of headphones, or purchase a set on-board for the sum of about two dollars. Twos dollars is a small sum, but if you want to get a pair, be prepared to pay the sum. First class and business class flights still offer this amenity free as of the writing of this article, but with the constant changes affecting such policies regarding these perks, I would check beforehand for any possible rule changes. I would be especially diligent about these small issues where a long flight is at issue, where something as small as a set of headphones could be the difference between an enjoyable flight and a long, boring one.

Keep in mind that most flights will also allow you to use your own laptop or personal DVD player, and some may even offer you the luxury of power ports. Where those are not available, be sure to bring along an extra battery so you do not suddenly find yourself in the middle of the cliffhanger part of the show with a dead battery! Also, keep in mind that you are only one of many, and even when using your own equipment, be considerate and bring along headphones so you are not disturbing those seated around you whose form of entertainment leans more to reading the paper or a magazine, or studying the backside of their eyelids! They are paying just as much for their seat as you did yours, and they are just as entitled to an enjoyable flight as you are.

If you are in any doubt about whether a service is included in the price of your ticket, call up the airline you are flying with and ask a customer service representative. If you are already at the airport, go to the service counter of your particular airline and inquire there. To be prepared for those small circumstances that you never thought of, always fly with at least a few dollars in your pocket.

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