Travel is roaring back and before you jet off on spring break, here are a few things you need to know about flying. Tamara and Kim break down which airlines charge fees for baggage, carry on bags, seat assignments, and more. Be prepared and know what to expect before you book your next flight!
- Airfares are pricey this year with increased demand and increase fuel prices
- When booking airfare, keep in mind that you have 24 hours to cancel from the time of booking with U.S. carriers with no change fees and for full refunds
- Pay attention to the type of airfare that you are buying so you know what the limitations of that fare might be (such as no changes, no carry on baggage, no seat assignment, etc)
- Always look at what the airlines charge for checked or carry on bags. Southwest is one of the only airlines that includes checked bags, unless you have airline status or an airline credit card
- For airlines that charge for checked bags, it can be hard to get your carry on bag on board if you are in a later boarding group. However, they can gate check your bag for free but often you will need to go to the baggage carousel to pick up your bag
- Some airlines offer a baggage guarantee that they will have your bag out within 20 minutes, which often it takes that long to get off the plane and to the baggage claim
- It is worth buying a luggage scale to make sure your bag is not overweight (usually 50 lbs for a checked bag but some budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier have a 40 lb maximum)
- When flying budget airlines, you should pay for your bags when you book the airfare because it gets increasingly more expensive later in the process
- Many budget airlines actually charge more for a carry on bag than a checked bag
- Some airlines like Easyjet let you buy additional weight for checked bags
- Most US airlines will include a carry on bag unless you book a restricted fare (usually labeled Basic) and all include a personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you
- Carry on bags do have size limits so you can’t usually expand it or it won’t fit in the sizer
- For some budget airlines, you can get a deal if you buy the ticket at the airport (in advance of the flight)
- Budget airlines also charge you to print a boarding pass so either use a mobile boarding pass or print it yourself at home
- Many airlines are charging for seat selection or at least charging for premium seating positions towards the front of the plane or aisle/window seats
- Especially for family travelers, if you want to sit together you should really purchase seat assignments, especially since so many flights are completely full these days and there is very limited options for switching seats
- You should definitely select seats at booking. If no seats are available together you can try to call the airline and see what they can do. Sometimes they reserve the back row for families
- You can usually upgrade to premium class seats that would have extra legroom and better location within the plane
- When you pay for seat assignments, that is per segment, which can really add up for a connecting flight
- Some airlines also offer early boarding upgrades. If you really need to get your carry on bag on board, it can be worth it to pay for early boarding. This is also usually a perk for those that have airline status or the airline credit card. Many times the premium seats (leg extra legroom seats) come with early boarding
- If you have a tight connection, it makes sense to pay for a seat close to the front of the plane
- If you don’t have a carry on bag, then it makes sense to wait until the end to board, especially if you have an aisle seats
- Recently many airlines have gotten rid of change fees, but not all so make sure you look first before booking. Just keep in mind that they may not charge a fee for changing your flight but you do have to pay the difference between the two flights
- Cancelling flights usually means you are getting a credit with a certain amount of time to use it, you won’t get your money back
- Usually you don’t have to fly by the expiration date, you just need to book by that date (but double check the rules)
- Alaska, JetBlue, Delta, and sometimes Southwest are known for friendlier staff than United and American
- Many airlines offer in flight entertainment but you need to bring your own device. Some have seatback entertainment, like Jet Blue that has movies and live Direct TV, but they aren’t reliable and you need to bring your own headphones, which sometimes need an adapter for the headphone jack
- There isn’t always consistency between the in flight experience
- JetBlue gives a good snack selection. American only serves the Biscoff cookies. Some airlines offer snack boxes for sale
- Some airlines offer WiFi for a fee but it isn’t reliable or strong enough for streaming and others offer free texting (like JetBlue or Southwest)
- Budget hotels do not provide entertainment and they also charge for all drinks or snacks, including water
- If you are able to achieve status on a particular airline you can get things like upgrades based on availability, lounge access or reduced charges for lounges, early seating, and free checked bags. There are usually levels that offer increased perks
- Tips for staying comfortable when flying
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.070] – Kim Tate
Today we’re talking about Airlines and what you can expect.
[00:00:15.150] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We 3 Travel.
[00:00:29.840] – Tamara Gruber
So, Kim, I think everyone’s getting back out there, starting to fly for those that haven’t in a while. I know you and I both just flew recently, and we have some other flights coming up. I felt like with spring break around the corner, it might be a good time to kind of go through some of the Airlines and talk about some of the different policies because some things have changed slightly further, maybe when it comes to some change fees, but other things have gotten worse, perhaps, if that’s possible. So maybe we can share some of our recent experiences, but also really kind of go through what to expect for those that haven’t flown recently. So you kind of know what you might have to pay extra for and what you need to know before you get to the airport, depending on which airline you’re flying.
[00:01:12.450] – Kim Tate
Yeah, definitely. I think there’s a lot of moving parts these days. And I think the biggest thing when you shopping for airfare and looking at stuff, there’s a couple of things to know, I think. And the first one is that in the United States, if you book any airfare with the United States carrier, you have 24 hours to change your mind, basically, and then you can kind of cancel that airfare. And I think that’s an important thing that some people don’t always think about. Like, oh, this is such a good deal, or you get one of those whatever those flight deals are that comes across your email and then you have to talk to a friend or something or family member. So that is one perk to know. But beyond that, I think change fees are kind of in one of the benefits that the Pandemic has brought to the forefront. I’m curious to see if Airlines start changing stuff out, if that’s going to start coming back. But I think one of the biggest things we’ve learned is that you really have to watch the type of airfare you’re buying because, like, I know American Express.
[00:02:11.290] – Kim Tate
Some have gotten better about showing like, oh, this is an economy fare. And whenever you see that or you see a little notation about something like that, you need to be a little more aware that there’s probably some limitations to this.
[00:02:24.020] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I think that is definitely a problem. I’ve seen people in the airport that booked, say, like a United basic economy. And if you do that, you are the last one. You only got a personal item, so you don’t have to pay for something else. It’s like if you don’t pay attention to all those little details, especially if you’re booking a budget airline, because those have so many different up charges and things that you just have an expectation if it’s something you don’t fly a lot, you kind of just expect, well, you get this, but maybe not. Yeah.
[00:02:56.820] – Kim Tate
So what do you think are some of the biggest things people should be aware of that they should look into, like if it matters to them, what are the kind of categories to think about that they should be checking out and seeing if they need to make sure their airfare or their fare class includes it?
[00:03:11.180] – Tamara Gruber
I think one of the first things to think about is baggage. And I know I try to go carry on only, and you think that maybe that’s going to be free, but especially when you’re traveling with families, that can be sometimes hard. So often you have to check a bag. And there’s just different policies, like you said, depending on the airline, but also depending on the fare you purchased, whether or not your check bag is included or how much it might cost. I mean, really, these days, is there anyone that except Southwest that actually gives you a free bag?
[00:03:42.550] – Kim Tate
Not without I mean, I think you get status perks if you have a credit card or you have status. But other than that, I think Southwest is still the loan, whatever it is. I did read a recent article. I thought it was Delta, United. One of them is playing around with trying to offer luggage free check bags. I think people are trying to speed up boarding a little bit maybe because if you think about that, it can help in the long run. So I don’t know, but I can’t remember if it was United or Delta that was talking about that. But from what I remember, Southwest is the only one.
[00:04:14.150] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I fly JetBlue fairly often, and I was pretty sad when they had recently switched to paying for a check bag. You definitely see the difference when you’re at the airport. And so what I’ve done actually recently is we can talk about this later. But I’ve started to pay for early boarding if I really know that I need to keep my bag with me. And then I look at it, I’m kind of like, okay, so I’m paying for early boarding almost as much as I pay if I would check a bag, the convenience of it. But it’s like, yeah, if you want to get that bag on board, there’s some way that you’re going to have to pay for it.
[00:04:45.360] – Kim Tate
Well, the one thing about checking bags is I know if I’m flying Delta or Alaska because Alaska is my airline of choice. The one good thing about checking bags is a lot of these carriers now are doing like Alaska and Delta have a 20 minutes bag guarantee where they promise to have your bag to the carousel within 20 minutes, which if you’re not sitting in first class by the time you get off the plane, maybe stop into the bathroom or whatever. I normally get down there in my bags there. And if it’s not, you actually get I know with Alaska, it’s 2500 points if they don’t have your bag out. And so one time it was like 24 minutes and I had looked at when we landed and sure enough got my little certificate and got to have 2500 points for it. So it is something to keep in mind that there are some benefits if you don’t need it right away. But you also want to make sure nothing is in the bag that you don’t need right away. If I was doing a race or if I had medicine or if I had something valuable, I certainly wouldn’t be putting in my checked bag.
[00:05:41.980] – Kim Tate
[00:05:42.340] – Tamara Gruber
No, that’s really a great perk. I hadn’t heard of that. I mean, the thing, I don’t really worry too much about a checked bag if I have a direct flight. I more worried about if I have a connecting flight, that there’s more points of failure because I do feel like overall, the Airlines and airports have gotten better. There’s so much technology involved with traffic bags that if you have a direct flight, it shouldn’t be too bad. And the other thing, I’ve also gotten to the door, if I haven’t looked to see what my airline or my aircraft is, I may think I’m bringing a bag on board, but then it may end up going underneath the plane anyway, which at least those usually end up at the jetway. But if you don’t have a great boarding group and you’re forced to then gate check your bag, sometimes those will go to the carousel. So that is a little bit of trouble. So you can really think like, is it worth taking the chance of getting it on board or not getting on board? Maybe it’s easier just to not like slip it through the airport. At the same time, it’s kind of nice to not have to wait in any lines to check back to the airport.
[00:06:48.880] – Tamara Gruber
That’s some extra time. So there’s all these considerations that you’re weighing when you’re deciding whether to check bags.
[00:06:55.540] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I think you have to know it best. And I think the other big thing you and I both have experienced and realizes that the check baggage also typically has to be under a certain weight. I think most commonly it’s £50 for US domestic flights in Europe. It’s 40, I think, or something. It’s a lot less. So you just have to be really mindful of that as well. I know you do too. A little handheld travel weight weigher that you kind of look over your handling can lift. So that’s another thing to be mindful of is keeping things light. Definitely be wearing your heavier stuff if you can. Like if you have a heavy pair of boots that you really want, maybe wear those on the plane, don’t pack it in a suitcase, little things like that.
[00:07:39.260] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, definitely. The thing also to think about with the budget Airlines, there’s a couple of different things. So I’m talking about like Spirit, Frontier, I think Allegiant Breeze Airways, some of these kind of newer budget Airlines as well. Is that the trick that they get you with is that their limit is £40. And so you just kind of make an assumption, like actually one time Hannah and I were flying Spirit and we’re going to Florida, so we didn’t need a lot of stuff with us. Was it going to be heavy? We didn’t really need to pack two bags. So I thought I’m going to be smart. And instead of paying for two carry on bags because there you have to pay for any kind of bag that you’re bringing on outside of your personal item. I would just pay for one checked bag. And when I got to the airport, it was like £45. And so they were going to charge me extra because their limit is £40. And I never even thought to look at that because it’s pretty industry standard in the US to be £50.
[00:08:41.200] – Tamara Gruber
And there were so many people that were like digging stuff out and shoved it into their backpack to bring it on board. It was a disaster area, which again, it adds to the stress of the whole flying experience. Yeah. So if you can be prepared for all those kind of things and the other thing that they do, the tricky thing that the budget Airlines do is that it’s cheapest to book if you purchase your bag when you make the booking. And then it’s a little bit more if you do it after the booking but before check in. And it’s a little bit more if you do it at check in and then it’s like the most expensive if you do it at the airport. And so some people might not know whether or not they’re going to need to check a bag or just not think about it. And then you get to the airport and you’re being charged a ridiculous amount extra.
[00:09:29.080] – Kim Tate
Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely a tricky thing there. I think that that’s one of the big things. So hopefully you guys realize that to be mindful of it. And especially if you’re going to Europe, most of us we’re going to be talking domestic. But just know that if you’re going to Europe, you also have to really be mindful of the size of your carry on bags, even the weight. I noticed, like Tap, Portugal, one person that was behind us while we are waiting for you to marry. I can’t remember why we were checking in their carry on bag, which I had a heavy backpack and they didn’t ask to weigh it, but this other person had like a little rolling carry on, which was carry on size. So it’s kind of smaller than the typical US domestic carry on size. And it was too heavy because it was something like £22. I mean, it was in kilograms, of course, but it was like £22 us or whatever we call our system. So that was something to be mindful of, too. So if you are flying European Airlines, be very mindful of going in and reading their rules and sizing on baggage because it can really get you.
[00:10:33.490] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, actually we’re flying to Paris for spring break and we’re splurging and we booked a business class flight, which I saw gives you up to £70. And I’m like, but then we’re actually also doing a flight from Paris to Venice and I booked that on Easyjet. Easyjet. Yeah, that’s cheaper. And so you can actually buy like extra weight on Easyjet. So I did that. So I know that we’re safe up to £57. But then just recently I was trying to research is there a size limit? Because I’m like, well, if I can go up to 57, maybe I can bring my slightly larger suitcase. I’m trying to look up size limits as well and converting centimeters centimer inches square. But it does certainly if you’re doing some of the more budgety European Airlines like Ryan or Easyjet used to be Norwegian. They’re very tough about weighing things. And the other thing that I noticed I will mention when it comes to choosing whether or not to do a check bag or carry on bag, is that if you’re going to have to pay for a carry on bag, which I guess we’ll get into maybe next.
[00:11:45.760] – Tamara Gruber
But some Airlines will actually also charge you for a carry on bag. And I’ve noticed that they actually charge you sometimes a little bit less for the checked bag.
[00:11:56.000] – Kim Tate
[00:11:57.370] – Tamara Gruber
They’re definitely trying to push you in that check bag direction.
[00:12:00.930] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I’ve seen that where it’s like 35 for the carry on and 25 for the Checkback. I mean, those are old numbers. It’s not that cheap anymore, but that’s what I used to remember seeing and stuff. So, yeah, that’s definitely something to be mindful of. I do think carry on. You brought this up. I think carry ons are the one area where US Airlines are still okay, you can still bring your carry on. I think the most important stuff is to realize that a lot of times you’ll hear about personal item and then carry on and the carry on sometimes has size limits and you don’t want to push that too much. But I know typically in the domestic Airlines, I think my suitcase is something like, oh, it says nine inches wide and mine is ten or like there’s a little bit of fudging that you can do. And I would say Alaska. I know they’ve never really made me measure my bag, but I think it’s I can’t remember if it’s American or somebody. I’ve seen them making people put their bags in those sizers at the gate when they’re getting ready to get on board.
[00:13:02.670] – Kim Tate
So that is something to be mindful of the size of your carry on. And the idea behind the personal item is that it goes below your feet and that your carryon goes above the bin above your head. So don’t be one of those mean people that puts both your items up above and then the other people that get on last.
[00:13:20.260] – Tamara Gruber
Don’t be. Exactly. I was getting on the other day and they were like, please do not put your coats or your personal items up above it’s completely full flight. And I’m like standing behind a guy who’s taken off his big winter coat and just like throwing it in there.
[00:13:34.140] – Kim Tate
Throwing it in there.
[00:13:34.940] – Tamara Gruber
Not like rolling it up and putting it on top of his bag where nothing else could fit anyway, but just throwing it in there like, thanks, buddy.
[00:13:41.840] – Kim Tate
That’s the only time I’ll put my coat up there. It’s like I try and put it where it goes with my bag. That’s up there.
[00:13:47.440] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Like it in the back.
[00:13:49.320] – Kim Tate
Nothing is going to go in there. Exactly.
[00:13:51.250] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, me too. I think that for the most part, a lot of the kind of mainstream domestic Airlines are not charging for a carry on, which is nice. But you do have to watch, like with the fares. I know JetBlue has like a blue basic and United has a basic economy. So if anything that says basic, you know, it’s basic.
[00:14:11.800] – Kim Tate
[00:14:12.850] – Tamara Gruber
Because those tend to be like, you will board that the warning will not bring a carry on and you’ll probably be in row 32 next to the bathroom.
[00:14:21.670] – Kim Tate
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I think you kind of started mentioning this, but another thing to be mindful of just really quickly is on some of those budget Airlines, like Frontier Spirit, if you can go to the airport to buy your ticket or buy your baggage and all of that, that’s also another place you can save money. So depending on how close you live to the airport. But I do know that there are some I don’t know you’ve flown them more than I have. But I just know that that’s something that I’ve read is that sometimes you want to go in advance to buy your ticket and do everything at the airport and you can save some fees.
[00:14:52.590] – Tamara Gruber
I’ve not heard that, actually. But I mean, definitely don’t buy it the day off at the airport. Yeah, no, I haven’t heard that. But then again, I try to avoid driving to the airport unless I really need to. Right.
[00:15:06.750] – Kim Tate
How close you are and what that’s really right.
[00:15:09.030] – Tamara Gruber
I think one thing to just bring up about those budget Airlines, though, when it comes to the extras, is that they do charge you to print a boarding pass. Yeah.
[00:15:18.210] – Kim Tate
There’s some weird stuff.
[00:15:19.080] – Tamara Gruber
So definitely try to do the mobile boarding pass or printed at home one or the other. I think sometimes people just think, oh, I’m checking a bag anyway. I’ll just print out the boarding pass when I’m there and they’ll charge you $3 or so to print the boarding pass. And if you have a family, it’s just silly money, right? There’s just no need for that, right? Yeah.
[00:15:38.260] – Kim Tate
So I think we’ve covered. We’re good with baggage. And I think the next big thing that we should talk about, maybe our seats because we kind of played on that. But I think seat assignments, it’s an interesting thing that I think more and more Airlines and again, us just having flown tap as well on international. It’s a big money maker for people now, for Airlines now. And that is seat selection and knowing, do you have a seat? And then what is your seat going to be like?
[00:16:06.500] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I remember when Ryanair first started advertising to pay, or maybe it was even spirit, like pay whatever for a seat. And I’m like, and if you don’t pay it, are you standing in the aisle? What exactly is the option there? And it’s super frustrating to me. And I feel like, especially for family travelers. And to be honest, just in preparation for this podcast, I was looking through some of the Airlines and their family travel policies. And so many of them will say, like, we seat parents together. And if we can’t, then we see one under a certain age with an adult and then it’s like, but can’t be guaranteed. I’m like, I’m pretty sure I started this paragraph with about how revolutionary your family travel guarantee was. And then at the end it’s like, well, no, we’re not getting any from. But I really feel like it’s one thing that it’s very tempting to save some money and not book seats together or I’m sorry, not pay extra to make sure your seats are together. But it’s just something that if you want to be together these days, you kind of have to budget in.
[00:17:07.710] – Tamara Gruber
I feel like paying for a seat assignment.
[00:17:11.240] – Kim Tate
Yeah, for sure. I think that there’s a good chance. I think one of the other big things to know is that when you are searching for fares, a lot of Airlines I know Alaska does this. I know Delta, I don’t know about some of the other ones, like JetBlue, that I don’t fly that often. But when you’re shopping for the Airlines, a lot of times when you’re shopping for your airfare, it’ll have like a seat button or link and it’ll show you the current seats that are open on that flight. And that can be a good indicator, like, okay, what’s this going to look like right now? So you kind of can see that. Okay, there’s some good openings. We can probably get seats together as you go through the process. And I think that most of the main Airlines, like, I know Alaska, Delta is the same thing. As long as you’re not on one of those, like Alaska, are called saver fares. We know United, Delta, American, a lot of those are like basic, basic economy. Those ones don’t have this. But a lot of the Airlines still allow you to select seats at booking.
[00:18:09.010] – Kim Tate
And the problem would be if the flight is really full, like you’ve waited until you’re too close to travel and there’s no seats together, that’s where you have to get the airline involved and you’re going to have to call them probably. And a lot of times they store like the back row by the bathroom for families who they need that thing. So you’ll probably end up there. But the one good thing, I guess, is that often there are those extra premium level seats that are closer to the plane and there might be some availability there. But, yeah, you’re looking at paying anywhere from it normally depends on the length of the flight, the shorter flights. I know, for instance, our flight down to Santa Ana, California, from Seattle, I think it’s about 1000 miles or something. And that’s about $29 for us to upgrade to the premium class seats that have a little more legroom or towards the front. But those were mostly booked over by the time I got there because they’re also complimentary for higher status people. So that was a really long run on sentence. Just be mindful of looking at maybe what seats are available as you’re booking.
[00:19:09.100] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. You kind of have to almost go through the whole process to, number one, understand what the true cost is going to be. And number two, just kind of understand if it’s going to work for you or not. I found the Airlines that don’t charge, don’t require to charge for a seat assignment, but offer preferred seating. Many times you don’t have to pay for a seat assignment as long as you don’t mind being in a middle seat. But if you want to be anywhere in the front, like half or two thirds of the plane where if you don’t want to be in the middle seat, you’re going to have to pay for a seat assignment. And that can be kind of frustrating to know that even though technically you don’t have to pay for a seat assignment if you want anything at all decent, even if it doesn’t have extra leg room, if you just want to get an aisle seat or a window seat, you might have to pay extra. And then. Yeah, definitely more for the preferred seating, which would be those extra room steals or the exit row seats. Yeah. There’s so many different it gets me frustrated with Airlines.
[00:20:12.850] – Tamara Gruber
And I think that’s why so many people go into flying experiences like just already so on edge, which makes dies so uncomfortable these days. Yeah.
[00:20:21.840] – Kim Tate
It’s kind of gotten to be one of those things where you have to go in going, okay, that fare that I’m seeing is not what I’m actually going to pay. And I think it’s also hard right now just because everyone is wanting to travel and there are so many added little fees like that that have come about. And it just makes it I think, especially right now. Also, we’re all seeing Airfare is extremely expensive right now. It’s a very expensive time to be flying. I’m sure with everything that’s going on internationally, it’s only going to get worse. So I would definitely recommend that if you’re booking summer travel, it makes a lot of sense to make sure you’ve got your flights booked by now. Definitely.
[00:20:59.430] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. And one thing I’ll mention, too, about the seat assignments is that that’s per segment. So if you have a connecting flight, you have to pay for each segment. So if you’re connecting once you have one stop, then that’s two on the way there two on the way back times, however many people are in your party. So it can definitely add up pretty quickly.
[00:21:20.370] – Kim Tate
Yeah, of course. That’s a good thought about that. And I know bags, even though you’re not paying per segment, if it’s all in the same reservation, you do have to pay it to come back as well. So I can add up when it’s those extra ones. I know I always hate that when we’re flying up to Canada and we have to pay for bags because we fly Swoop, which is kind of a budget airline that’s moving into the US a bit. But yeah, it’s that same idea. It’s like $35 a bag. But then oh, but no, you got to do it back too. So basically you’re looking at $70 a person, whoever needs to check a bag.
[00:21:49.270] – Tamara Gruber
Well, I guess one of the things that I think makes flying a little bit better is if I don’t have to stress during the boarding process, especially I feel like so many flights are delayed or it just becomes one of those crazy cattle calls when it comes to boarding and everyone’s, like, crowded around and it stresses me out so much because I’m willing to wait for my number to be called. But then I’m always worried that there’s people trying to sneak on ahead of me and that they’re not being flagged. I’m always so happy when I see a flight attendant saying like, no, that boarding group hasn’t been called yet, sir, go back to your seat. I kind of hate that. So even though I don’t need more time on the plane, early boarding just lowers my stress when it comes to flying. And that is often something that you can pay for as well. It’s definitely a perk. You always hear that, like if you are mosaic or gold or platinum or whatever the different level might be of status or if they have a credit card, those people can board first. But generally after that, there’s even like this other group a or group one tends to be people that have paid a little bit of extra to get that.
[00:23:02.350] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I don’t think Alaska has that it’s strictly based on your thing. But I do know that if you paid for the premium seat, which is one of those closer to the front seats, more legroom, they come with, you get to be in that group A or B, whichever one it is. So. Yeah, definitely. That’s something to be mindful of. I was just thinking also really quickly when we were talking about paying for seat assignments, and I know you’ve mentioned this, and I know I have actually thought of this before is that if you have a tight connection, it’s a very good idea to make sure that you budget to pay for a seat closer to the airplane, especially international, like if you’re clearing a customs or something. I just think that it makes a lot more sense because you want to get off the flight as soon as possible. And normally they clear out a flight in ten to 15 minutes, it seems like. But you don’t want to be in one of those back rows if you’re stressing about a connection already.
[00:23:54.390] – Tamara Gruber
So we just went to Colorado and I booked a last minute. And so we were in row 32, which was not quite all the way in the back, but it’s about two rows ahead and it was a completely full flight. We left late. We landed at 1130. And I texted Glenn to say that because it was just Hannah and I that we landed. And then 2 hours later, I texted him to say that we were at our hotel and he’s like, how could it have taken you so long? And I’m like, well, first of all, we’re in row 32. And I texted you as soon as we landed, not when we were at the gate. So it was a good half hour to get off the plane, and then we had to go take a tram to where we could then take the shuttle to the rental car center and go through all that and then drive. And there was a car accident, like all that kind of stuff. Yeah. So it really does make a huge difference. And also when you get there, you’re like, just get me off of this plane.
[00:24:46.460] – Kim Tate
Yeah, well, the one benefit to not having here’s another thing. If you do check your bag, if you don’t, like close quarters or if you don’t want to be on the airplane for as long and you don’t have to pay for the priority boarding because you’re not as stressed about getting your bag there. I always think, especially if you have an aisle seat, it’s so convenient to be one of the last people on and you just kind of walk on and sit down and shove your backpack under the seat in front of you and you’re good to go. Totally true. Because these days boarding, I mean, I’ve boarded plenty of Alaska flights where I have sat there for 45 minutes while they finish boarding. And so that is something to keep in mind as well, is that the priority boarding is nice and that’s if you’re trying to get your bags on, it’s definitely worthwhile so that you’re relaxed and not stressed. But you’re also going to be sitting on that plane for a while. So you check a bag and don’t need to worry about the overhead bend space, then you can be one of the last people on.
[00:25:38.780] – Kim Tate
You got a seat assignment.
[00:25:39.830] – Tamara Gruber
So you get to be in that aisle seat where everyone just bumps you exactly.
[00:25:44.300] – Kim Tate
With their bags. They turn around to talk to their person behind me and you’re like you have a backpack on. Exactly.
[00:25:51.020] – Tamara Gruber
Yes, definitely. No, I agree with that 100%. Like if I don’t have to worry about my bag, Glen still is always like he wants to get on when his group is called. And I’m kind of like if I don’t need to fit something somewhere, I am okay with being on later.
[00:26:07.720] – Kim Tate
Totally. Yeah. Well, I think one of the benefits that has come about from all of this, we kind of talked about this is just the change fees, and that is one of benefit where things have gone. I think on the positive side for travelers, I think there’s a very important caveat to this. But the big thing about the change fees, I would say, is just realize that maybe they’re not going to charge you an additional fee for changing your flight, however, or even canceling your flight. However, if you change to a different flight, that is more money, you will have to pay that price difference between those legs. So just be mindful. It doesn’t mean that, oh, you can just pick any flight, although, unless you’re Southwest, because Southwest is special like that. But anyways, I just think that change fees are kind of one of the big changes that have come about from the Pandemic. So what do you think about it?
[00:26:56.960] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, definitely. I think you would still have to pay a difference with Southwest. They just have always done like the no change and no cancelation.
[00:27:07.930] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I think I’m thinking of when they run a special and it comes out I think once a year or once every two there’s something and it allows you to book it and you can actually then swap the flights all around because I have two people who are big Southwest aficionados and they talk about that a lot and they will literally book like five different flights during that time just because of that perk.
[00:27:33.070] – Tamara Gruber
The other thing to think about is change means you’re changing it or cancelation. But cancellation doesn’t mean you’re getting your money back.
[00:27:40.480] – Kim Tate
[00:27:41.180] – Tamara Gruber
Cancelation means you’re getting a credit that you have a certain amount of time to use. So don’t think of it as like, oh, I’m just going to return this. Like you return something to the store and you get your money back.
[00:27:53.470] – Kim Tate
Yeah, the money will still be tied up. Exactly. It is good to know. The thing is, if you do cancel a flight or if you have canceled one in the past two years and you have some kind of credit sitting in your account, be mindful that you don’t have to often, from everything I know of, but just read the rules. You don’t have to necessarily fly by that date, but you have to just book and use the credit by that date. So just know that if your credit expires December 29, 2022, you don’t necessarily need to fly by December. You just need to have booked with the credit by that date.
[00:28:29.250] – Tamara Gruber
Which I guess you could always try to book and then change. It could be a strategy. You can play a game these days, our plans are kind of constantly changing. Everything we’ve learned, things are always in flux. But let’s talk a little bit about the inflight experience, because I feel like this is really where some Airlines can differentiate a little bit, like some are just a little bit more well known for customer service or just like amenities. Now, I know that you’re a huge Alaska fan, so feel free to tell us why you love Alaska so much.
[00:29:02.890] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I am an Alaska fan. They started as a little airline and they’re getting bigger and bigger, not necessarily happy that they joined the One World Alliance or whatever with American and some of the other ones, because that’s really messed up some of my status perks because it feels like a lot of people are flying them now and the upgrade lists are much longer than they ever were. But beyond that, I always have just had good luck with almost every Alaska flight attendant. They’re friendly. I feel like their customer service is good. Their in flight experience is pretty good. I will say that their first class cabin is extremely basic and some of their planes are starting to age a bit with their first class cabin, kind of the old leathery looking cushy seats that aren’t really that cushy anymore. But overall, I think they have a very upgraded flight experience. The seats are nice. You’re not going to be finding any. I’ve seen some people posting like United in America. They got like an ashtray in their armrests and stuff.
[00:30:02.200] – Tamara Gruber
I’ve seen a lot of really old United planes. Yeah, exactly.
[00:30:06.600] – Kim Tate
So you will not experience that with Alaska. So that’s one of the reasons I love flying them. They are, of course, West Coast heavy, but they do a lot of flights to Mexico and stuff like that and of course, Hawaii. So that’s one of the things I like their in flight experience. They have one of the popular things that a lot of Airlines are doing where it’s free in flight entertainment, but you have to have your own device. So if you have kids. That can be a little tricky unless they’re okay with phones. Your phone works as well. But yeah, you just join their little WiFi network and then open the WiFi page and you get to pick lots of TV shows and movies. I do like their experience now in flight food and drink wise, their first class experience is fine. I mean, it’s nothing fabulous, but it’s meals and they’re back to serving hot meals on those legs in first class. And then in the main cabin, the premium class, you get a free cocktail or beer, wine or whatever. If you’re one of the premium seats, if you’re in any of the main cabin, you get a free beverage.
[00:31:12.820] – Kim Tate
Nonalcoholic, you can always pay to have an alcoholic one, and then you don’t get complimentary snacks necessarily. But they do offer snack kits on certain flights, and I’ve always liked their snack kits. They’re pretty good. And then on longer flights, like cross country, you can buy one of their meals. And I would say their food is fine. It’s airplane food, but it’s good. But yeah, that’s kind of one of the reasons I like them. It used to be my status just went really far with them. I had MVP Gold, which is kind of the middle one. It’s not the base and it’s one level above, but it’s a little less beneficial these days. But yeah, that’s why I like them.
[00:31:50.510] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. My favorite used to be JetBlue. I liked how they have the direct TV, like in the seatback things so you could watch live stuff. Like actually when we were flying, we were watching the Olympics as well as all the movies. And they have definitely a really good robust movie selection versus the days when it was channel one through four. And it starts at a certain time. So I like that you have more control over your entertainment on flights these days, whether it’s using your own device or being able to kind of pick from a wide selection, start it and end it when you want, pause it when you need to go to the bathroom, like that kind of thing. Yeah. I do find that the experience varies so much, though, from plane to plane. I’ve had this especially on JetBlue recently. We flew JetBlue to Aruba, and it was a great new plane. It was one that had the little kind of cup holder built into the seat back and it had a nice big screen. Everything worked really well, actually. Once you connected, it had your name because it knew, like your seat assignment.
[00:32:59.450] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it had charging all of that. But then I’ve been on so many other JetBlue planes that are older and it’s just this tiny little four inch screen with the wavy lines. And I don’t even know how many flights I’ve taken recently where it’s been. Like, we’re going to try to restart this. That didn’t work. We’re going to start again and finally we’re going to give you an $18 credit or something like that. It’s just like I never expect that it’s going to work. I’ve been on so many flights where the systems do not work. It works a little bit better if it’s like on your own app versus the screen. But we have that problem. I think when you and I flew tap, like there was some issues with it. So I always say as a backup, download something to your own device, bring a book. The old fashioned fashion.
[00:33:48.700] – Kim Tate
Exactly. Yeah. I always liked the JetBlue. I think the coolest thing in the one time I flew JetBlue was I’m sure you’re going to talk about this, like the snack cart unit.
[00:33:58.290] – Tamara Gruber
Well, definitely. I was going to ask you what some of your favorite snacks were because personally I hate flying American. I will be very controversial here and say that I absolutely hate those Biscoff cookies. First of all, yes. To me, that is not a cookie. That is just a dry biscuit that is only edible if you dunk it in coffee. And I don’t drink coffee. So they tease you. They’re like, would you like a cookie? And I’m like, yes, I would. I would love like a nice soft chocolate chip or a chewy oatmeal raisin. I’m like, what is this?
[00:34:30.540] – Kim Tate
They need to talk to the Double Tree hotels that do those warm. Although we always hate the Double Tree because they do the Walnut cookies.
[00:34:37.320] – Tamara Gruber
They have nuts to stay away from us. I don’t like those either.
[00:34:39.840] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I like those.
[00:34:40.940] – Tamara Gruber
I know you don’t like that.
[00:34:42.120] – Kim Tate
You’d go along with me very well.
[00:34:43.980] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. But I do love that they come around with a selection so they have a little basket and you can choose like popcorn or chips or these kind of cookies or cheese. It’s like real things and it can kind of give you your sweet or your salty. And then generally I know you were on a flight where you could go and kind of help yourself. They don’t always have that. But generally if you do go to the back, I just find JetBlue flight attendants are really pleasant. I like them. It’s like I like Southwest. Usually they’re funny. They have like a generally positive attitude. Jetblue also like pretty good. And Delta feels like professional and maybe they’re well treated. And then you get to United and American and tell me not to really feel. Exactly. Although I will say the one thing I don’t like about JetBlue is that they’ve switched.
[00:35:33.490] – Kim Tate
I don’t know if they switch.
[00:35:34.330] – Tamara Gruber
But they do Pepsi products and I don’t drink well, I don’t drink coffee and I don’t really drink soda. But sometimes when I’m pop, as you will say, sometimes when I’m flying, like I might need a little caffeine pick me up. And so I order a Doctor pepper. And so I like when people carry like Dr. Pepper instead of Mr. Pibb yeah. So yeah, Southwest I think gets me for that.
[00:35:56.300] – Kim Tate
Nice. Yeah. I forgot to mention also one of the big things that I think on inflight stuff. And I don’t know if JetBlue does this, but I know Alaska does. It is you can text while you’re on the flight. You have free texting. And I know for Alaska, if you’re a T Mobile member, you even get an hour of free WiFi. I don’t know enough about T Mobile cell phone plans, but if you’re a big, big plan, you get unlimited WiFi on flights. So that is something to think about. And I think that Southwest has the texting as well, right.
[00:36:25.790] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I’m pretty sure Southwest does. I feel like I’ve seen it somewhere else, but I can’t remember quite where right now. And a lot of them will offer like a paid WiFi. But I feel like it is similar to like when I take the train, it’s like don’t expect too much from that WiFi, don’t count on it. And don’t expect it to be fast. You’re certainly not streaming anything, that’s for sure.
[00:36:46.310] – Kim Tate
Absolutely. Yeah. The WiFi can be frustrating. I remember I would try and work sometimes and even uploading images to like the blog and stuff. It’s not going to happen. And you can’t I know with the free texting that’s offered on Alaska, you can’t send photos or anything. It’s just legit text.
[00:37:02.550] – Tamara Gruber
The other thing that I’ve seen recently that people don’t always realize is that they go to use the feedback entertainment and they don’t realize that you now have to bring your own headphones. So otherwise the airline will charge like $5 to give you those cheap little headphones earbuds they used to pass out.
[00:37:22.410] – Kim Tate
Yeah, go ahead.
[00:37:23.280] – Tamara Gruber
I was going to say if you have iPhone headphones. Yeah. Remember to bring a little adapter so that it can plug into the standard headphone Jack.
[00:37:32.380] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Well, I was going to say if you have WiFi headphones. So if you have some like AirPods or whatever you’re using, they do make a cool little apparatus. I can’t remember it’s called like fly tunes or something along those lines. And you can plug it into the headphone Jack of the seatback entertainment or wherever your plug in is. And it’s a wireless transmitter and you can connect up to, I think, two headphones to it. So if you have two kids and they’re going to watch something or if you’re watching with your partner or friend, you can plug that in and both you can have your wireless headphones and listen. So it kind of replaces those old fashioned splitters that we used to carry for our girls. Yeah. We’d plug it into like our Kindle or whatever and they would plug in their headphones to it. So, yeah, something to be mindful of.
[00:38:21.230] – Tamara Gruber
And the other thing, when you are flying budget Airlines, there’s no entertainment. So make sure to bring your own. And also on a lot of the budget Airlines you need to pay even for water. So I personally, I drink a lot of water, so I always bring my own. I fill it and I will still ask for five cups of water as much as I can get going on the plane. And I will drink all of it. So it’s like if you need a drink at all, you better bring your refillable bottle and maybe some extra because you’re not getting anything for free.
[00:38:50.100] – Kim Tate
Well, you should stay hydrated when you’re flying. And sometimes you never know when there’s going to be turbulence or different things and they might not get the service out for a while. And then if you’re in towards the back of the plane, you’re going to be waiting for a long while. So I think if I’m the eco person, I think the great idea is to bring your own water bottle and fill it up. So many reports have bottle filling stations at most water fountains that are near bathrooms. So definitely kind of be prepared for that because you might be waiting a while if you’re counting on them to bring you your beverage.
[00:39:24.760] – Tamara Gruber
Definitely. So one of the first things I do after I make it through security is look for the bottle refill station.
[00:39:30.040] – Kim Tate
Yes. One of the reasons I like lounges is because they have the cold, sometimes flavored waters, which I actually like as long as it’s not cucumber. I love cucumbers, but I hate cucumber water anyways. And I like being able to fill it up with cold water.
[00:39:44.700] – Tamara Gruber
I can usually put your bottle under it. So I tend to take like a cup and then I sit there and pour my pour it over?
[00:39:50.920] – Kim Tate
Yeah, it depends. Some of them have a little like they set it to the edge and it’s the poor spout is what you can find. Any other things?
[00:39:59.640] – Tamara Gruber
A lot, I think just to we talked about how miserable flying can be. But if you are flying a lot, I mean, the good thing is and this ties back to our recent discussion about credit cards as well, is that there are perks to either having a credit card or achieving some type of status on different Airlines. And you talked about you with Alaska. I think we’ve talked in the past and it’s been really tough for me to ever get status just because I don’t have like a home airline. It kind of depends on where I’m going. It’s always been nice when Glen did have like Mosaic on JetBlue or something on Southwest just to have those little perks. But typically they tend to be that you would get like a checked bag. Maybe you’d get some priority boarding. What are some of the other perks that you know of?
[00:40:48.850] – Kim Tate
Well, lounge access is a big one once you get to a certain level. At Alaska, if you’re flying first class, you get complimentary lounge access. But by certain levels, you can get discounts on buying lounge access. And I think Delta has that same thing. So your status can kind of get you a discount. I know with the Alaska Airlines credit card, you get half price lounge visits. So the lounge is $50 for the day. So you could walk up with your Alaska Airlines card and be able to pay $25 to get into the lounge. So there are some benefits with lounges as well, with credit cards, of course, I use my Amex Platinum for lounge access, but lounges, I think, are one of the big things to look into. And I would say some of the other things that you can think about is like we’ve talked about how you get the priority boarding. I know one of the things I love most is my girls. I get to select certain seats that are more open for me than other people. Like I get exit row seats. And now that Mia is 15, I actually was able to get us exit seats these flights that were coming up on because you have to be 15 and over to be able to sit in those.
[00:41:54.160] – Kim Tate
And then, of course, the big thing is just with status, a lot of times you get upgrades. Either you get on a list to be upgraded into those premium class seats or into first class. And I know now with my status, I actually can look for certain upgradable flights for myself and a guest. So the only negative is when I’m flying with the whole family of four. If I’m flying with both girls, it doesn’t work because it’s only for me and a guest. But that is kind of a little bit of a perk as well.
[00:42:19.840] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. It’s nice to know. And I think one thing to keep in mind is that some of these perks depend on which level of status you get. So you might get access to upgraded seats when available when you arrive at the airport, whereas others might get access to upgrades like the day 40.
[00:42:40.470] – Kim Tate
Yes. And it’s also on certain fare classes, like for Alaska. If I booked a Y fare, then I can get it 72 hours before. But if I’m in a B fair. So there’s also a lot of rules about fair classes with that. And I think the bigger thing is to know that if you’re not flying on status, like if you’re just a normal person or normal family booking your airfare flying, be mindful that you’re competing with all these status people that get free selection of those seats, they get free. So you have to be mindful of that when you’re I think it makes a lot of sense to book early in a lot of ways, and especially since the change fees are kind of waived. If your flight goes down in price, you can change and change the flight, rebook it and get a credit back for some of those change fees depending on how quick you are and hoping you cancel one and rebook it as the other one.
[00:43:37.560] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, well, I hope everyone has pleasant experiences. If they’re flying soon, I will say we had talked a couple of months ago about some of the airport amenities being offline due to staffing shortages and some of those kind of growing pains that the economy has gone through in the last few months. And my recent experiences seem like most things are back open, but the lines are still long, as you mentioned how busy it is and how expensive the flights can be, I definitely have seen like completely full flights and the lines for food can either take too long or maybe not. Everything is open, so it is something to think about in advance, like maybe bringing some extra snacks, giving yourself extra time at the airport. I mean, the lines have been just kind of crazy everywhere, like checking bags and things like that.
[00:44:33.350] – Kim Tate
That day I flew out of Newark after we got back from Portugal. The next day, I had to overnight in Newark and I flew out the next day. And of course, Newark is Newark. It’s gross. At least my terminal. Sorry, my terminal has not been upgraded yet. It’s horrid. And I waited in line 55 minutes to be able to buy at the one snack cart bakery set up and I waited 55 minutes in that line to be able to get it was like a coffee shop thing. So yeah, I think what you mentioned is a good thing and just be mindful of all of those. Tamara and I both have, I’m sure, articles and stuff, but I’ll definitely link in the show notes. I have an article also about just how to stay comfortable when you’re flying, because I think knowing what to pack and bring in your carry on and things, just dress comfortably and just pack your patience and know what you’re getting into. And I think that’s the best way in all aspects of travel, the best way you can avoid meltdowns and stresses if you’re just ready to roll and be prepared for whatever might come your way.
[00:45:36.900] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, in another way, as travel is kind of getting back to quote unquote normal, like they are once again serving alcohol on most planes, although I still see incidents of the people that are needing to get kicked off of flights or whether it’s mask or whatever the reasons are. So there’s still that going on. And you had mentioned a lot about lounges and I’m just curious what you’re seeing happening because in the past couple of months when we visited lounges, I wouldn’t pay extra for it. Like I have access to it, but it’s been basically hardly any food, like very little service. So what have you seen? Is it worth people paying to invest in something like that?
[00:46:18.410] – Kim Tate
Now I am seeing that it depends on the lounge. We saw that lounge we went to the club, whatever. I think it was a club lounge right when we were in Newark, in Seattle. I know that the Alaska Lounge, which is a beautiful space. Their food offerings are still extremely limited. It’s like granola bars. And I’m curious if they’re going to get more because it’s their flagship lounge. I would hope that they would eventually get more, but it’s very much snacky type, not a lot of buffet style eating. However, I know the Centurion Lounge is back to full buffet of the different meal options at breakfast and lunch and dinner. And so I am seeing that those have come back to most of the lounges. So I don’t know if I’d pay $50 for it. I mean, the only thing the lounge gives you is just more comfortable seats, some kind of snacks, and of course, alcoholic beverages.
[00:47:16.690] – Tamara Gruber
Some of the nice lounges have like censurian or others have real food, like real hot food. They used to. That’s what I found recently. Hannah and I were just in Colorado and we’re in the Denver airport. We ended up because it was snowing when we left. I gave ourselves a lot of extra time and then we ended up having a couple of hours to spend in the Denver airport. But it was not in our terminal. And it was one of those things where it’s like, is it worth taking the train to go there? And then I looked online and it was like nearly full. And it’s just like, oh, I don’t even think it’s going to be worth it. I’m just going to pay to sit at the restaurant here and have some breakfast here. But sometimes I used to really build in that time to be like we will go and we will have our meal at the lounge or whatever. And I feel like you can’t always count on that because it can be full where you can’t get in or it could just be like hardly anything there. And so you can end up having to buy some food anyway.
[00:48:10.560] – Tamara Gruber
And then is it even worth the effort, like going into the lounge, but just something to keep in mind when it comes to the lounge kind of benefit.
[00:48:18.980] – Kim Tate
Yes, definitely. Well, I think that we’ve covered a lot and hopefully we’ve helped some people think through some stuff because I think that we are going to be seeing even more people flying the friendly skies, hopefully friendly skies this spring and summer. So, yeah, hopefully you guys all found this helpful and let us know if you have a favorite airline or if there’s a favorite park or if there’s something we missed. We’d love to hear from you so you can always message us and let us know if you think that we need to keep something else in mind. And I hope you have travels.
[00:48:50.460] – Tamara Gruber
I’m trying to remember who even had the slogan of the flying the flag from the sky. Yeah, I don’t know because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t hold truth.
[00:48:59.510] – Kim Tate
I did this watch I did just watch you get those videos in your feed. It’s like drama and it was some dude at Orlando airport. It seems like Orlando lately I’ve seen so many things and he was completely wasted and he ended up getting taste and all this stuff. He illegally walked through the jetway and was banging on the door and cussing and everything. It was just tragic. Yeah. So that’s something to be mindful of. Don’t be that person. Free drinks. Free alcohol is nice. It lounges but don’t let it get you banned from flying.
[00:49:35.390] – Tamara Gruber
I don’t know what is wrong with people. Well, all I have to say is that when you guys hear this I should be on my spring break. We are headed I think I’ve mentioned to Paris and Venice and Florence so it’s a family vacation but if you want to follow along you can follow on at weekly travel on Instagram I’m sure I won’t be doing posting anywhere else because I will be busy having fun and really enjoying it. But if you want to follow along and when I come back I’m definitely going to share all about our trip so stay tuned for that.
[00:50:06.810] – Kim Tate
I’m sure we’re going to have to break that trip up though. You’re going to have to do because you’ve got some great destinations. We’ll have to see how to break it up. Maybe we can do it all together.
[00:50:15.870] – Tamara Gruber
Paris in Italy or something.
[00:50:18.410] – Kim Tate
Great. Well I hope you have safe travels and again Tamara’s at we three travel so follow along with her and we will talk to you again soon.
[00:50:26.050] – Tamara Gruber