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Lately, travel headlines practically shout: It’s a fee frenzy! A fee-for-all! Travellers are fighting mad about fees!

But are all fees bad? Not necessarily. Many of these so-called “new fees” can be viewed as charges for new products, like in-flight wi-fi, that travellers could never “buy” before. And for many business travellers, it’s worth the cost to pay for something that improves comfort or productivity while in the air.

Do you want to buy your way to a better trip? Here are five ways to do that:

Better economy seats
Being able to reserve the “best” seats in the economy section — exit rows, bulkheads and those away from the lavatories — used to be impossible unless you booked your trip months ahead of time, or you were an elite member of airline’s frequent flyer program. Now, business travellers can pay a slight premium (typically based on the length of the flight) to ensure that they have a little extra room to work or relax on the plane.

In-flight wi-fi
The ability to connect to the internet from the stratosphere has revolutionized the in-flight experience for business travellers, especially on long haul flights. The enhanced productivity, as well as the entertainment value passengers get from in-flight wi-fi is well worth the cost, which runs from $6 to $14 per flight in the US.

Early boarding
Some airlines now offer economy passengers the option of paying a small fee to board the plane early. This is especially helpful to business travellers on very full flights because early boarding ensures space in the overhead bins for carry-on bags and eliminates the chance of having to check bags at the gate.

In-flight food
Ever since some airlines began charging for food on short-haul flights, quality and choices have improved, and there’s a lot less waste. At the same time, the food available for purchase at airports has improved, allowing passengers to bring aboard snacks they really like, instead of having to put up with mediocre aeroplane meals.

Airport club passes
Airline airport clubs used to be reserved only for those who could afford the $400 to $500 annual membership fees. However, now that many airlines offer day passes for around $50, even an occasional business traveller can find respite and relaxation from the hectic airport experience.

Chris McGinnis is the business travel columnist for BBC Travel

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