If you don't follow travel news closely, you could be in for some surprises this summer when you buy airline tickets or look for last-minute deals at the airport.
Here are six travel changes that may catch you by surprise – and note that one of them is actually good news.
1. Dropped Routes
Your favorite airline may have dropped your favorite flight, an ongoing trend increasingly affecting small and even not-so-small cities. Recent announcements include Virgin America departing Philadelphia and United easing out of Cleveland. It's why it pays to shop comparison sites instead of checking fares with a single carrier.
2. Last-Minute Deals
American Airlines dropped its last-minute bereavement fares earlier this year – but the news isn't that sad, because the discount wasn't much. You'll likely find regular, non-discounted ticket prices on low-cost airlines that are cheaper than any remaining bereavement fares on the bigger carriers, so be sure to look at prices on Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit and others.
3. New TSA Security Measures
If you're traveling internationally, here's something you need to know when it's time to head home: Security officials may ask you to power up your smartphone or other device before you board, and if it's out of juice, it won't be allowed on the plane. Blame it on terrorists; authorities want to be sure your iPad really is a tablet and not an explosive device. Avoid this by fully charging all gadgets the night before departure, and consider buying a portable charger.
4. Bag Fee Changes
If you haven't flown Frontier in a while, you may be in for a shock. The airline now charges a fee for all bags, including carry-ons. Plus you'll pay for snacks and beverages, including water and soda. This is also true for Allegiant and Spirit.
5. Loss of Perks
If you've used your American Express Platinum card to access American Airlines and US Airways VIP lounges … Sorry, it won't work anymore. Check for recent changes on other airline-branded credit cards, too, since no perks are guaranteed for a lifetime.
6. Good News
Not all change is bad, and Southwest proves it by beginning flights to the Caribbean this month, the first international itineraries in the airline’s 43-year history. They've put these island destinations on sale, too, but you must book by July 14.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site