Lori Borgman: Money flies when you shop budget

I recently snagged a cheap flight on an airline known for being “economical.” I told one of the kids the airline I was flying and she exploded. Just like a volcano — molten lava flowed out of both her ears.

“Mom!” she shrieked. “Don’t you know they’re the airline with issues?”

I asked if by “issues” she meant those videos of people throwing punches in the aisles. I informed her it was a predawn flight and people who brawl on airlines are still in bed that time of day.

She said it wasn’t that I would be in a viral video, it was that the airline is known for never leaving the airport.

I told her that an economy airline doesn’t mean you don’t leave the airport — it only means you may leave the airport in a teeny, tiny plane and have to flap your arms to keep it airborne.

I paid for my flight, which was amazingly cheap. Then I was asked if I’d like to pick a seat, which meant an additional fee. Did I want to pay extra to take a bag on board for another small fee?

It was a la carte. Some of your finer restaurants are a la carte.

A week before my flight, an email said for a small fee I could have priority boarding, which would mean early access to overhead bins.

I thought about it, as I think the fighting often breaks out when the overhead bins are full.

Four days before departure, I received an offer to bid on more leg room. As a matter of fact, I could make multiple bids on more leg room.

I wondered if the multiple bids were for individual legs, a bid for the right leg, and a bid for the left leg. Or maybe you could just bid for more space for your right leg and let your left leg cramp.

I didn’t need more leg room, but the bidding concerned me.

Three days before my flight, an email asked if I’d like to purchase an extra wide seat. My first thought was, who’s been talking? I immediately jumped on the bathroom scale. I am not wider, which is why I stopped by the ‘fridge on my way back to the computer.

Would I have to pay for an oxygen mask? Was there a fee for a safety flotation device? How about the restroom? I haven’t used a restroom on a plane for decades, but what if?

Two days before departure, another email asked if I would like to buy Wi-Fi, which “would last for the entire duration of the flight.” Not Wi-Fi just during take-off, or just during extreme turbulence, but for the whole flight!

Despite pre-flight anxiety — free of charge; no fee required — the flight was wonderful. I define wonderful as when the plane stays in the sky.

I took a different airline on my return flight, one that gives you a seat, overhead storage, leg room, a beverage and snack, and Wi-Fi all for one price. The all-encompassing price and my budget a la carte costs were less than a dollar apart.

Sometimes what looks like a savings isn’t a savings. Hence the old saying, “Let the flier beware.”

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Send comments to [email protected]