As noted last week, for the last decade. airlines have been “unbunding” their fares- separating as many cost components as possible including baggage, boarding, meals, miles and entertainment, and selling them apart from the basic fare. By buying all of these components, a passenger can end up paying more for a ticket than they originally planned.
Now airlines are creating bundles which include a range of these add on services, within the total price of a fare. For example:
- United Airlines have two bundles: Premier Travel and Premier Travel Plus which give faster security access, earlier boarding and more frequent flyer points
- Air New Zealand have created four economy levels with the lowest giving you only a seat to the highest (The Works) throwing in lounge access, meal, drinks and frequent flyer points
- Air Canada has five levels
- Jetstar (Australia) have the Plus Bundle which for $15 offers free in-flight food and drink, and the ability to change the date, name and flight details free of charge. For $275, you can buy the Max Bundle offers the same plus extra legroom and a fully flexible or refundable fare.
The difficulty with bundles is it is getting harder and harder to compare fares.
- Decide what you really want.
- Find an airline that includes what you want in their base fare. For example, many people choose Southwest in the USA because they include a bag in their fares
- Check what deals an airline offers a frequent flyer. Some bundles or parts of bundles are automatically made available to an airline’s high status fliers
- In the same vein, some bundles are offerred free of charge ti people using that airline’s own branded credit card
- Pay only for what you need. A bundle offerring priority boarding, baggage and a movie may not be useful for you if you are someone who flies for business with no luggage.
- Note that some bundles are cheaper when the ticket is booked. They may cost more later or much more at the airport. Having said that, some airlines will sell their bundles cheaper on the day of travel