Save Money By Being A Loyal Frequent Flyer

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6/10/2008 – Save Money By Being A Loyal Frequent Flyer

Did you know that loyalty to an airline, or airline alliance, can save you 5%-7% in travel expenses?

Each year there are nearly a dozen business travel forecasts I read. These annual travel forecasts vary widely and I am often left wondering if these analysts are looking at the same data to make their decisions.

This year, looking at the 2009 business travel forecast, there is one constant I am seeing. This one common cost increase is related to the ‘unbundling’ of services. Unbundling includes cost increases, such as the much talked about additional charges for checked baggage. The newly unbundled fees can increase the costs of airline travel by as much as much as 5%-7% (if you travel with extensive photographic equipment it can be more than a 50% cost increase on some routes).

Checked baggage fees bring significant revenue to airlines. Northwest Airlines reports a revenue of more than US$300,000 daily in checked baggage fees.

So what can loyalty to an airline, or an airline alliance, do to reduce your travel expenses? It can save you fees on your checked baggage, in some cases completely eliminating these fees.

The following are some US airline checked baggage fees, for domestic travel each way:
United Airlines : $15 – first bag / $50 – second bag / $125 – third bag
US Airways: $15 – first bag / $25 – second bag / $100 – third bag
Delta Airlines: $0 – first bag / $50 second bag
Northwest Airlines: $15 – first bag / $25 – second bag / $100 – third bag
Continental Airlines: $15 – first bag / $25 – second bag
American Airlines: $15 – first bag / $25 – second bag / $100 – third bag

For flyers who earn Star Alliance Star Silver or Star Gold ; SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus ; OneWorld Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald can have some, or all, of these baggage fees can be waived.

Elite status with the above airlines begins at only 25,000 miles.

25,000 miles is equal to five round-trips between New York and Los Angeles; two and a half round trips between Washington-Dulles and Honolulu; three and a half round trips between Boston and Amsterdam; one round trip between Newark and Tokyo via Singapore.

For those who fly often and don’t sort out the value of your loyalty, you may want to look at your estimated travel for the next year and sort out what airline, or airline alliance, may be best for you to pick up your elite status.

There are other perks to being a frequent flyer, but with the cost of living rising, many flyers are more interested in saving money that catching upgrades.

Happy Flying!

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