For the first time in a long time, airfare is actually reasonable. The low-cost of fuel has led airlines to lower the price of a ticket (though it’s still not enough if you ask us). Hopper is predicting that the average price of a domestic roundtrip airfare will be $249 this June — about 9.2% lower than last year, and 17% cheaper than two summers ago. And many airlines have started use that money to improve the customer experience.
Carriers are buying new planes, updating existing cabins, and sprucing up their airport lounges. Even better, some have started to bring back perks stripped from travelers during the recession years. From food to entertainment to fees, here are some complimentary services now available at airlines.
Starting July 1, Delta (DAL) will offer its onboard entertainment options for free. This means movies, TV, music and live satellite (on select aircraft) will be available on 90% of its fleet. (Previously, passengers in the domestic cabin would have to purchase premium movies and channels.) Nothing softens the blow of a $50 baggage fee like a free in-flight movie.
Delta is also giving customers a break on fees. In April the airline announced it was dropping the $25 fee for reservations made by phone. The company also did away with the $35 fee applied to reservations made at the airport ticket counter.
In 2014, United (UAL) launched a streaming service on several aircraft. Over the next few weeks the airline will finish the rollout by installing the service on its remaining 90 aircraft. This means travelers will be able to stream movies and TV for free on their personal devices instead of the TVs installed on the back of the seat.
This month the airline also announced that coach passengers on flights from the US to Europe will now receive a warm croissant, jam and yogurt cup as a mid-flight snack in addition to a complimentary full hot meal. Back in February, United brought back free snacks in the form of Stroopwafel — a toasted caramel waffle treat. They also now offer a savory snack mix.
And finally, last November United dropped its $50 processing fee for tickets refunded to customers experiencing a hardship like death, illness or jury duty. While customer-friendly, dropping the fee wasn’t groundbreaking. Delta, American Airlines, and Southwest never had a similar fee.
In February, economy passengers on transcontinental flights started to receive free Biscoff cookies or bags of mini pretzels on domestic flights. American Airlines (AAL) made the snacks a feature on all flights in April.
And just last month the airline announced that complimentary meal service will be available in the Main Cabin on all flights between Hawaii and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
American is also expanding its complimentary entertainment on domestic flights equipped with in-seat entertainment. Customers can now choose from up to 40 movies, 60 TV shows and 300 music albums.
This low-cost airline offers cheap tickets for flights in Europe. However, with fees for everything from bags to food, the final price tag quickly adds up. That’s why Ryanair just announced a drastic cut to the cost of checking a bag, in some cases by 50%. The cost of checking a 33-pound bag on a domestic flight lasting less than two hours went from 30 euros ($34 USD) down to 15 euros ($17 USD). Similarly, a 44-pound bag on the same flight used to cost 40 euros ($45 USD) and now costs 25 euros ($28 USD).
JetBlue (JBLU) never stopped offering free snacks and already offers free wireless Internet to all customers on most of its planes.
The one airline that hasn’t made many recent changes is Southwest Airlines (LUV), which is famous for having no change fees and no baggage fees. The airline also honors its most loyal fliers, A-List members, with free Wi-Fi on any equipped aircraft.
What do you think airlines should offer for free? Email us at email@example.com.