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Beware of 'free' perks while traveling

Wednesday - 8/7/2013, 11:16am  ET

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Supposedly free upgrades for air travel sometimes yield disappointing results. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - Paying for perks while traveling isn't a guarantee those perks are worth the money.

Bargain hunters can get burned making booking decisions based on offers of getting something for free.

Whether perks are free or inexpensive, Smarter Travel says smart consumers should be skeptical of add-on services and benefits.

Choosing a hotel based on a free buffet breakfast may result in an entrée featuring inedible powdered eggs.

A hotel "health club" may consist of sparse equipment, or be housed in an unappealing environment, according to Smarter Travel.

The promise of a free upgrade from a rental car company may end of being counterproductive, if the only vehicle available is a gas-guzzling SUV.

The net benefit of upgrading to a "preferred" airplane seat might be early boarding, if the seat only offers an extra inch of legroom.

For flyers more concerned with comfort than saving money, several airlines now offer seats with extra legroom.

Independent Traveler says seats in JetBlue's "Even More Legroom offer" are located in exit rows and have 38 inches of seat pitch instead of the typical 34 to 36 inches on standard seats, for between $10 and $90, depending on the flight.

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