The world may be a smaller place but costs keep rising

Go back one hundred years and, to get anywhere fast, you were on the railway to the nearest port to get on a ship. When you think about the rate of progress, it makes you quite proud of human achievements. What used to take weeks in some cases is now hours, sometimes in airplanes that can carry amazing numbers of people. For example, the A380 is allowed to carry 853 passengers in an economy class set-up. So, if you do the math, sharing the cost of the fuel and writing off the cost of the plane, 853 people can travel more cheaply than a hundred or so in a smaller plane. Discounted travel comes in different forms. The other way in which saving are made is to cut out all the "extras". Some airlines provide a high standard of passenger care. When you arrive in the airport, you are whisked into a special lounge, offered a drink and a rundown. Then it's on to the plane with food and entertainment provided. This makes the travel a less stressful experience. Go through a budget airport and you see a rather different approach to transport.

Curiously, some airlines have responded to the current recession and drop in passenger numbers by increasing their ticket prices. Indian airlines tried discounting and that did not tempt passengers back into the air so they reasoned that, if people had to fly, they would pay more. If they paid more, the airlines would make a smaller loss. Airlines in other countries are playing a backdoor game with their prices. They advertise a headline price but charge for a lot of extras. What may be added in? Well, let's take something "simple" like your baggage. Carry one small bag over your shoulder weighing less than 7kg on to the plane and you're safe. Anything else counts as excess baggage and, when you get to the airport, you're expected to pay a charge for checking luggage through the handling system, plus a hefty fee for every kilo over your free allowance of 7kg. If you failed to use the online check-in system, there can be a fee for doing it in person at the airport. Then some will add the cost of transport from a central pick-up point to the airport itself - some of these budget airports are a long way from civilization. Some charge for food, a blanket and entertainment.

When you're looking for discount flights remember the airlines are also looking for you. They want to attract your business so they will try to make the deal look sweet but take your money in others ways. Remember what the price is before the discount kicks in. The Indian airlines have been increasing their prices so, even when a discount flights are offered, this is not as cheap as it looks. There is no right and wrong answer on all of this. You look carefully at all the discount flight offers, identify all the add-ons and extras, and you try to pick the best deal. Waiting until close to your departure date is a good strategy. Prices always fall in the last few days before departure. Just don't wait until all the seats have been sold.