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Travel Tip: The New Ancillary Fee Model

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Airline fees are here to stay, but now the airlines are getting creative in getting you to pay those fees…upfront!

United Airlines now sells annual subscriptions, which in theory lets you avoid those a la carte fees. The lowest priced plan is $349, and gets you one free checked bag for a year. That’s only on flights in the mainland U.S. and Canada. Pay more, and it extends to other parts of the world, or you can increase it to two bags.

The Economy Plus package starts at $499 and gets you access to better coach seats. But for casual flyers, it’s tough to stay loyal to one airline and make this annual pass worthwhile. For frequent fliers, you’re better off focusing on gaining elite status, which gets you similar perks for free.

American Airlines launched its new model last year.  For an additional $68, you get a free checked bag, early boarding, and no change fee. Now, when you consider that a change fee is $200, that actually sounds like a good deal… but only IF you need it. And THAT is a pretty major caveat.

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