Customers hate fees, so airlines are rebranding them. American and Delta are calling some add-ons “fare choices” and “trip extras.” New monikers, same old fees. For $68 round-trip over the base fare, for example, American Airlines’ Choice Essential entitles you to a checked bag, reservation change and Group 1 boarding. Delta’s $21 Ascend bundles in-flight Wi-Fi and priority boarding.
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The two fee combos are variations of the same concept, but the payment method and potential savings differ. American’s choices are rolled into the ticket price, so when you search itineraries on AA.com, you’ll see the basic fare next to Choice Essential and other bundles before you click “buy.” Delta’s fees are tallied separately and purchased online or at the gate.
Expect more airlines to jump on the bundled-fees bandwagon. Although fee packages offer a more predictable way to calculate the true cost of your trip, weigh the savings before you commit. Checking a bag round-trip on a domestic American flight costs $50, so adding $18 to snag priority boarding and cover a possible $150 change fee makes sense if you expect your itinerary might change. But the extras in Delta’s Ascend would cost $23 purchased separately, saving just $2.