That's the sound of airlines ringing up the tickets you want to buy for your family vacation this year.
Need to check a bag? Ka-Ching.
Want a better seat? Ka-Ching.
Now, want to sit next to your kid on a flight? Ka-Ching, ka-ching.
The industry's newest plan to wrest more money from travelers is to charge for window and aisle seats. That means you can put a kid in the middle seat without paying an additional fee, but if you want to sit next to your child, chances are you'll have to fork over an extra $25 to get one of those seats.
So the choices are: Let your 4-year-old sit between two strangers for that flight to LA or pay another $25 ($50 round-trip) to sit next to the little one.
Is it worth it? Probably. Your choices are to forgo the LA trip in favor of a road trip closer to home, or getting to LA some other way. Even if you choose to, say, drive to LA, the cost of hotel rooms, food and gas for that marathon road trip-not to mention that the journey would eat up most of your precious vacation time-makes the extra $25 seem reasonable.
If you're planning to fly and hope to snag a free seat next to your child, there are a couple of things you can do:
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.