Low fares vs. frequent-flyer perks

When you travel frequently, you become very familiar with the airline game: which days of the week are more likely to have lower fares, which airlines charge extra for checked baggage—even which airlines still give out free snacks. But when it comes down to booking your airline tickets, are low fares or airline loyalty perks more important to you?

Certainly, if money is your biggest concern, then you’re looking for the deals regardless of carrier. And if you have time to do the nitty-gritty comparisons, you’ll know that often the lowest fare isn’t really the lowest because of all the extra fees added on.

But if you travel a lot, especially in a particular region, being faithful to one carrier (and its list of friendly allies) can pay off. When the price is relatively comparable to the competition, being an “elite” or “premier” member can not only get your checked baggage fees waived, but also get you upgraded seats, extra miles, admission into those comfortable airline club rooms and free tickets for companions.

This recent Lifehacker article compares eight frequent-flyer programs, based on reader nominations. Did yours make the list?

What about you? Do you skip right to the lowest price, or do you think that some airline loyalty perks are worth doing the price comparison when you travel?

Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 24, 2011
Category: Air Travel

3 Responses to “Low fares vs. frequent-flyer perks”

  1. Stephen Says:

    If prices are relatively close, I’ll always try to book the Star Alliance carrier to make sure I get mileage on OnePass. Most of my travels lately have been in SE Asia, though, and usually nobody even comes close to touching the prices from Air Asia. Especially if you catch one of their frequent sales, you can get prices that are as low as the baggage fees major airlines will sometimes charge.

    If AA was to start a frequent flier program, I might never fly another airline in the region again!

  2. Michele Says:

    As a prevalent standby passenger, I have had my fair share of experiences with airports, ticket prices and airlines. My uncle works as a pilot for American Airlines and I am lucky enough to be able to fly relatively cheap with his standby tickets. There are some pro’s and con’s to standby traveling but the main point is whether you fly the cheapest or most expensive, airlines get you safely to your destination. Here are some pointers to ensure a more pleasant airport and flight experience. Always get to your gate 2 hours before take off time, this will reduce any stress related to rushing and will provide more than enough time to get through airport security. Always check to see if your carry on bag is under the appropriate size to fit in the above compartments of the aircraf. Airport assoicates will have no problem placing your bag under the airplane cargo. Also, always remember to be nice to the airport associates, they tend to place indirect aggression towards standy passengers. Lastly, enjoy the ride and get excited to land in your destination!

  3. travelbuddy Says:

    But sometime in development country low fare flight is equal with long delay. I have an experience with one of low fares flight in Indonesie, the delay too long ’till 6 hours without moneyback options 🙁