6 Steps to Cheap Flights and Less Aggravation

Consider that there are no free bags whatsoever on Allegiant and Spirit. You pay for checked bags and you pay for carry-ons. Indeed, if you fly with Spirit, a carry-on costs more than a checked bag (and beginning Nov. 6. if you're clueless enough to wait until you get to the gate to pay the carry-on fee, it'll cost you $100). Factor this in before bragging about the great deal you scored.

5. Don't believe everything an airline tells you.

You're at the gate when the airline rep announces a mechanical problem that will delay your flight one hour. But one-hour delays have a way of stretching into two, three and even four hours (and we saw plenty of this during those recent hellish delays with American). Here's a little secret: Airlines are basically guessing about delay times. These are educated guesses, yes, but sometimes they're dead wrong. So don't go far.

If the mechanical problem is fixed early, nobody will organize a search party for you. So if you're not at the gate when the plane's ready to leave, leave it will, without you.

6. It pays to "fly hungry."

I like to sleep in as much as the next guy, but not at the start of vacation. Spending the day at the airport is not my idea of fun but it can happen when bad weather gums up the works. Your best shot at riding through a storm scenario is to be on the first flight of the day. That's right, fly hungry, before breakfast.

Think about it. If the first flight of the day is canceled or delayed because of weather (or anything else), you have a day's worth of planes ahead of you to try and get another seat (although granted each one will only have a few empty seats). It gets trickier as the day progresses with the dwindling number of flights and, if you're on the last flight of the day and something screws up that one, good luck finding a local hotel with reasonable rates. Or suck it up to enjoy the adventure of camping out at the airport.

One more thing: First flights out tend to be cheaper than later ones. So fly hungry. If your stomach is growling when you board the plane, you probably paid less than other passengers.

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

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