Low-cost carriers not the only ones in the discount airfare game

Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 18:20:30-04

With airfares sky-high and rising even more this year, discount airlines have become more popular than ever. Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are packing their planes with budget travelers. But now the big boys are trying to beat them at their own game.

So you found a great 250 dollar price on a flight?

Don't celebrate: all the new fees can easily add 50 to 100 dollars to that fare....per ticket…

For example, the past few years, discounters like Allegiant and Frontier have been charging extra for a carry-on bag in the overhead bin. If you travel light, no problem. If you don’t, Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit --the 3 deep discounters -- charge between $10 and $75 for use of the overhead bin.

Jill Jones is a travel concierge at Cadillac travel. She says while the big carriers, like Delta, United and American now want to capitalize on the audience looking for lower base fares.

“I think they’ve all recognized that people, some people are willing to sacrifice to get these fares,” Jones says.

So for 2017, all the airlines are offering basic economy tickets. With Delta’s cheaper fares, you don’t get an advanced seat assignment, but you can use the overhead bins for a piece of carry-on luggage.

You’re also not eligible for same-day changes or ticket refunds after the risk-free cancelation period, and you’ll board in the last zone.

There are similar restrictions for United and American, but with the added expense of paying to use the overhead bin.

Jones says the new options are great for travelers who have depended solely on low-cost carriers for a good deal.

“So when a great fare on one of those low cost carriers does not become a great fare is when you have a problem. So for me, in this marketplace, I think delta is a much better option from Detroit," Jones says. "They have 80 percent of the flight, there’s over 100 aircraft sitting at metro at any single hour of the day, and it gives you options."

Bottom line… Jones says it’s very important you understand what you’re buying and if it fits your needs, so you don’t waste your money.