|by Danielle Contray||Airlines||0|
You can bundle lots of things these days: cable/phone/internet, burger/fries/milkshake. How about change fee/checked bag/priority boarding? A new program launched by American Airlines lets you book ancillary fees as a package for flights within the contiguous 48 states, but whether or not it's worth it depends on how flexible your travel needs to be.
With the new Choice Essential, you get one checked bag, priority Group 1 boarding, and no change fee (once per itinerary) for $68 round-trip. Your first checked bag usually costs $50 round-trip and priority boarding $18 while a change fee is $150. So, basically, with this bundle you are getting a free change fee. Only worth it if you are concerned you will have to alter your itinerary.
The next level is Choice Plus, which includes the three perks from Choice Essentials, plus a 50 percent AAdvantage mileage bonus, same-day flight change, same-day standby (if available), and a "premium beverage" (like an alcoholic drink) for $88 round-trip. In addition to the $68 for the checked bag and priority boarding, a premium beverage costs $14, for a total of $82. It's impossible to calculate the mileage bonus (since it depends on the flight), and the monetary value of a same-day standby is not set in stone. But those change fees add up if you need them. As stated above, it's $150 to make a change, plus another $150 for a same-day change. Meaning you could save almost $300 if your plans go haywire at the last minute.
So while you seem to be getting a lot for your money with these packages, it is a bit of a wash if you aren't planning on making any changes. But if you are, look at it as a free drink once you finally get on board.
How do you feel about this program? Would you bundle fees, even if it includes services you may not take advantage of?