Every once in a while I have clients that are pinching pennies. I understand why they want to do this, but over time I have had to write a letter to them explaining why what they think is a savings actually costs much more.
Here is my latest reply to a client wanting to save $200 on my flight overseas.
Flying with Camera gear gets interesting as you know. I try to keep my cameras with me on the plane rather than checked. Too many baggage handlers tend to drop bags and with about $30,000 worth of gear in my carry on bag I try to avoid this.
With my gold status I board first after first class giving me chance to put my gear above me in one of the bins. The later in line you are the more likely they have to check the bag below. Once out of my hands it can get scary.
Also, with my Gold status with Delta I can check two bags up to 70 lbs each for free. I also can get on earlier and put my cameras above me. I never have to check my bags when flying to Hawaii.
With USAir they are $90 for bags up to 70 lbs. So round trip when I bring my gear is and extra $180. If I checked two bags up to 70 lbs then the flight is no longer cheaper but now more expensive. Even with Delta if I wasn't a frequent flyer the fee would be $90 for each bag up to 70 lbs.
My insurance deductible for cameras is $1,000. If they drop my camera gear bag because I had to check it they are only responsible if lost, not damaged. So I could be out $1,000. Again the savings is really like playing Roulette.
On the surface it might look like the flight is $200 more, but once I board with my gear and anything goes wrong then their are no savings. I would hate to arrive with gear broken and unable to perform the job you hired me to do.
I use the American Express Card and get extra miles each month due to using it to pay bills.
One last tip, you may want to buy an extra ticket some years to keep your flight status. One of my good friends recently bought a ticket to Boston and went for the day of shooting stock and returned. The miles it gave him were enough to keep that Gold Status and only cost $200.