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I’ve been in Kaua’i for the past few days, and on Saturday, when I was at the evacuation center listening to the news, the broadcaster mentioned that “in the spirit of aloha,” Hawaiian Air would waive any flight changing fees that day.

It was a very real consolation: roads across the island had been closed to traffic for a few hours, thereby making it impossible to get to Lihue Airport, so there were doubtless hundreds of travelers who were going to need that break.

Hawaiian Air’s response also underscored an airline fact of life travelers have learned to live with — there’s a fee for nearly everything. There are baggage fees, there are in-flight concession fees, headphone rental fees, blanket-and-pillow fees … and wifi fees are coming.

Trying to avoid fees can bring its own set of hassles — stick to bringing only a carry-on bag, and you’re facing a packing challenge if you also want to avoid concession charges and maybe bring a light wrap to keep you warm on a chilly plane. Forget using your own headphones on some airlines — the armrests aren’t wired for your standard earbuds.

When it comes to paying extra fees on a flight, the criteria I always use is: Will this make my trip much more pleasant? Does paying $5.50 for a bag of taro chips (going rate on the flight from Oakland to Lihue) outweigh the discomfort of waiting until the flight layover in Honolulu to grab a snack? (Not for me.) Does paying $20 roundtrip to check my bag make my life easier? (Yes. For one thing, it makes running to catch my connecting flight a breeze. For another, it means I can stock up on only-in-Hawaii goodies without worrying about packing space.)

Source Lisa Schmeiser San Francisco Chronicle