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Nickel and Diming to death

by Jonathan van Bilsen

Last week I flew back to Toronto, from a few weeks of fun and travel in Europe. The trip and everything associated with it was fantastic, however, arranging the flights was a bit of a challenge.

Like so many people do now a days, I went online and looked for flights. This was a few months out, so I had lots of time, and no concerns. I was amazed at the range in flights, depending on what airline you chose, and the difference in class of service between carriers.

I finally found a respectable airline which came in at a reasonable rate; all in. ‘All In’ meant taxes and fees. This sounded good, especially as it was less money than most of the others.

I began booking the seats and gave my credit card information, and presto, I was on my way. I decided to ask for an aisle seat, as I like to stretch my legs. The seat I wanted was certainly available, but there was a $60 charge to select it. If I wanted the same seat on the return flight, it would be another $60.

Of course, I chose it, but during the process, a note popped up saying for an additional $30 (each way) I could upgrade to a seat with more legroom, a whole ten centimetres more. I went for it because it was near the front which meant faster on and off and I would get sooner food service.

Considering my trip was several weeks, I decided to check a bag. This was another $110; however, my camera gear took up my backpack so I really had no alternative. Twenty-four hours prior to the flight, I went online to check-in and print my boarding pass, where I learned my suitcase fee was only one-way. I intended to bring my luggage back, so another $110 went on my Visa.

All in all, the total fare was still $150 cheaper than the next nearest carrier’s rate, so I managed to tell myself it was OK. Make sure you check every element of your flight before you book, as surprises are not fun.

I did want to mention, there is an app called ‘seatboost’, where you can enter your airline and flight number, and it will allow you to bid on business or first class seats, if available. You choose the amount, enter it, and if you ‘win’ you will receive your upgrade at the gate. In many cases, you can bid fairly low and if no one else bids or bids higher, the large, comfortable, recliner seats, with big televisions and yummy food, will be yours.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website and YouTube.

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