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Are discount airlines in G.R. still affordable?

6:04 PM, Nov 1, 2012   |    comments
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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - It's been three years since Gerald R. Ford International Airport brought discount airlines to town.  Prices were great at first but, now, travelers say the ticket costs have evened out.

"You pay extra for bags, for a seat and not to stand for two hours," says Lori Forte, who's headed to Mesa, Arizona.

JoAnne Verboom, President of Travel by Gagnon says, at first, airlines all offered great deals.

"Once the carrier has gotten their foot in the door and have been there for six months, they raise airfare until it's comparable," says Verboom.

WZZM 13 On Your Side put the discount airlines to the test.  We picked the cheapest flights in November, going to Orlando.

After picking our days, the fees were added-on. First, it was fees for seats. Each way, it costs $14. We decided to risk it, and get our seats at the gate.

The next charge was a bag fee.  We chose to take a carry-on, so it's an extra $26. A checked bag was $39.

The next fee was for priority boarding, which was $10.  We declined.

Finally, there was a charge of $10 for booking the flight online.

When all was said and done, the cost on a discount airline was $211. The cheapest major carrier was $261. The discount airline was cheaper and it's a direct flight, but there are some issues to keep in mind.

"Because with these discount carriers, if they have mechanical problems or don't have enough crew, they cannot put you on a different carrier, because no one will accept their tickets," says Verboom.

In Lori Forte's case, she ended up choosing Allegiant.

"This was still a little bit more cost-effective to use Allegiant than other airlines," says Forte.  "For me, it was about the direct flight."

We also checked the other discount airlines. They too, were a bit cheaper. There were no major deals, but the bottom line is: if you want to save a few dollars, and are okay with the risk of a cancellation, the discount airlines are still living up to their name.

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