Whilst the main part of any vacation is your destination and the resort where you’re staying, it’s still nice to get there as comfortably as possible. Some people we know even insist that their vacation starts the moment they walk across the jet bridge onto the plane! With that in mind, it is clear that choosing an airline on price alone can be a false economy.
Consider ignoring the budget option and paying a little more when the cheapest flight :
- involves a long lay-over
- requires a very early start or a very late arrival
- doesn’t give you as generous a baggage allowance as a marginally more expensive one
- doesn’t give you the frequent flyer benefits a slightly more expensive flight would give you (priority boarding, lounge access, etc.)
There is one additional reason that isn’t so obvious unless you’re really paying attention: In recent years, airlines have found it harder to turn a profit so they’ve been finding ways to squeeze more people on to their planes and making their customers’ experience a lot less comfortable than before (and it wasn’t all that comfortable before!). This was brought home to us recently when we were helping some friends find flights to join us at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in St Thomas later this year.
We’re booked on to American Airlines’ new 777-300 plane and, because we hold top tier status with American, we have free access to their “Main Cabin Extra” (MCE) seating – and it’s great! Lots of leg-room and not too far from the front of the plane.
The problem is that our friends don’t have the same frequent flier status as us so they can’t join us in MCE without paying a significant supplement in both directions. Added to that, American has squeezed an extra seat per row into the regular coach (Economy) section on their 777-300 planes making it 10-across seating and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone! We found ourselves suggesting to our friends that they take an alternate carrier (one who hasn’t yet crammed in an extra seats in coach) and that they meet us at the resort.Anything past row 19 (with the exception of row 31) is terrible!
American isn’t the only airline out there with 10-across seating so check what seating you’re being offered before deciding on which flights to take. We use Expert Flyer (a paid service) to check out airline seat maps but an acceptable, free resource is SeatExpert where you can input your flight details, see what each airline is offering and make a choice based on the comparisons. Don’t get caught out by assuming that coach on one airline is the same as coach on another. It’s really not, so do your homework before booking flights and your vacation really can start before you get there!