Flying For Cheap, Added Headache

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Within Europe it's possible to travel for 50€ or less to places like Paris, Rome or Berlin. When I first arrived in Europe I was amazed as an American. Especially when it can cost more than $150 for me to travel from Boston, MA to Raleigh, NC, to visit my family, and that's not even on peak travel time. I have travelled on these discount airlines and it is cheap, but you have to know how to "work the deal," as I say.

There are many hidden fees these airline carriers try to catch you on: checking in luggage, water on flights (I'm used to my free drink and roasted nuts in the States, although a friend of mine recently flew on Amsterdam's national airline, KLM, and was given free alcoholic beverages), and even to reserve seats. So one has to be careful. Additionally, the flights don't always provide assigned seating, which means first come, first served. I'm not a fan of the pushing and shoving chaos it created.

Long story short: It's nice to pay next to nothing to go to Paris, Rome or Berlin. But when I go I have added stress. Like making sure all my clothes and personal items fit into a carry-on bag only (there are limits to size for those as well), and making sure I get to the gate in ample time to be one of the first to board. As if it wasn't stressful already at the airport with security checks and delays, there is one more thing to think about. So it may not seem like much of a plus for Americans to fly ridiculously cheap, but these are going to be American concerns as well very soon.

This year, American airlines will starting mimicking these cheap European airlines (click here to find out more) by charging for many things we take for granted: talking to agents at the ticket counter, children on laps, and more luggage fees. This move is expected to create about $22 billion in revenue for airline companies.

My strategy now, whether I purchase from a European carrier or an American one, is to just travel whenever the ticket is cheapest regardless of the date. I am lucky that I currently work for myself but most people aren't able to choose their holidays at the last minute. Nowadays, it's not even necesssarily cheaper to buy the ticket months in advance. The bottom line is to make sure to read the fine print when buying tickets and buy insurance, especially when travelling internationally. Leave room for error...and travel now before these change come into effect!

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By: Samantha Taylor

Samantha is a Boston, Massachusetts native. Her studies have taken her from Ohio to England, where she lived for two years. Currently, Samantha lives in Andalucía, Spain, with her husband, and works as an English teacher and personal trainer in her spare time.

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