Flying used to be so easy. You bought your ticket and - done. Meals, bags, a nice seat and even a blanket, all was included. You didn't even have to shop since a helpful travel agent performed this pesky chore for free.
Now, you can't just buy a ticket. You must make decision after decision, and many of these decisions will cost you: Where to sit, when to board, what to pack and on and on. Makes it hard to figure out if you got a deal or not, right? And that's partly the point.
Airlines want more of your money and they're trying to get it by luring you into bundled services that are somewhat discounted from the price you'd pay if you purchased these perks separately.
Finding a deal in these bundled-fee haystacks can be daunting, unless you know your flier profile. See which flier you are - and see which fees to pay and which to avoid.
Frequency: One or two flights a year
Type of trip: Vacation, visiting family
Advance planning: Trips are plotted out months before departure
Budget: Watching those pennies
The vast majority of leisure travelers fall into this category. These folks have little brand loyalty since they don't fly enough to rack up many miles and they usually choose whichever airline has the cheapest tickets for any given trip. That means air fare cost comparison is a must, and most fees should be avoided especially for bags and this can be done by traveling with a carry-on or flying jet blue or Southwest for the free checked-bag.
Fee recommend: jet blue is now testing a stand-alone service called Even More Speed, which allows passengers to use expedited security lanes in 40 airports across the UP.SE. The $10 charge is a bargain, and that's also the fee for Southwest's cut-to-the-head-of-the-boarding-line early bird fee, another recommendation.
Once-in-a-while fee: Family holiday travel is a great time to live a little and experiment with fees you might not normally purchase because of the lower ticket/fee cost ratio. Plus, early boarding/better seat bundles can alleviate a lot of stress when traveling as a group.
Frequency: Once a month, minimum
Type of trip: Mostly business travel
Advance planning: Last-minute trips