Airline Fees Worth Paying, Whether Quirky or First-Class Flier

Budget: Some extras allowed depending on employer

Economic realities have put an end to the treasured travel perks of many a road warrior, but they haven't all disappeared, especially if you can show company bean-counters how some extras can make you more productive.

Fee recommends: Wig-Fib connectivity is a must for most business types and generally a bargain (starting at around $5) plus many airlines sell monthly passes that are even better deals. Seat upgrades can make a big difference, too, if you have to hit the ground running - remember when you actually got a 'travel day' for getting to a business meeting?

Here's where bundled fees come into play: JetBlue's Even More Space offers bigger seats/early boarding, while Delta's new bundle has priority boarding/Wi-Fi, and American's bundles bags, change fees and even a free cocktail (but don't mention that little perk when schmoozing the boss).

Cards and miles: Don't forget that all those miles you rack up especially once you hit elite status; they entitle you to all kinds of automatic extras. Airline-branded credit cards also give you entree to the good stuff such as United's Premier Access, which offers everything from exclusive check-in and security lines and even early baggage arrival at the carousel.

First-Class Flier

Frequency: Depends on whim

Type of trip: Mix of business and pleasure

Advance planning: Possibly, but not necessarily

Budget: Sky's the limit

This one's easy. If you don't mind paying 10 times the price of an economy ticket (and a great example is a February flight on American from Los Angeles to New York for $318 in coach or $3,700+ for first class), then you get all the perks of flying, fee-free. Lie-flat seats? Check. Complimentary tablet for entertainment? Check. Amenity kits and turndown service? Check.

Fee recommends: Your money's no good in first class (since you've got everything). Use it to pay that annoying hotel 'resort fee' or maybe buy yourself that special something from the SkyMall catalog.

Quirky Traveler

Frequency: Anywhere from one to 100 trips a year, as the spirit moves you

Type of trip: Adventure

Advance planning: Some trips are planned, some are spur-of-the-moment

Budget: Frugal but open to interesting options

Your flight plans may literally be up in the air since you travel as the spirit moves you. A well-stocked backpack may be the only thing you need, but paying a few fees may ease your journey.

Fee recommends: Try early boarding fees so you'll be sure your backpack has a home in a bin by your seat. You might also want to consider an airline insurance policy, especially if flying 'no-refunds' Spirit, in case an emergency crops up and your flight plans change. If you'll be hitting the road as soon as you land, a few bucks for some onboard snacks might make sense too but be sure you have your credit card handy since no carrier accepts cash anymore.

The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.

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