What the Airlines Have Learned From Popular Retailers

And what about those extras the airlines now charge us for? That's very businesslike, too. Just as Hertz is not going to let you borrow an infant seat for free (you'll pay about $20 per day depending on where you rent), that airline blanket, pillow and meal will cost you too. Sometimes even water costs money (I'm looking at you, Spirit Airlines). Extras equal revenue for any business no matter how you slice it.

It took a while, but the airlines are finally coming of age. Better that than a premature death because we need the airlines to survive. Flying is still the quickest and safest way to travel.

Now here's that silver lining: Flying can still be cheap. Say you want to go cross-country, about 2,600 miles, and you've got a car that gets 30 mpg. Let's say gas costs an average of $3.70 per gallon. It'll cost you about $320 to drive those 2,600 miles, but we'll throw in a couple of nights at a cheap motel and call it $460 total.

Take the same trip on a plane this spring and it'll only cost you $360. Oh, and that's the round-trip fare, so you'll go across the country - and back!

Airlines are businesses, but remember, most businesses still offer deals from time to time. An employee of mine told me she recently used a bunch of Kohl's coupons to buy a $50 pair of Levis for less than ten bucks. You can still find great deals on airfare too, if you know how to shop and know when to buy.

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

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