Know when the upgrade is worth it
A super-cheap flight isn’t worth it if you deplane feeling like garbage. When you’re selecting add-ons, have an honest conversation with yourself about what’s going to make your vacation suck. On longer-haul flights, for example, shell out to pick a seat in advance and reserve room in your budget for a carry-on, if needed. If it's a crowded route at a popular time of day, maybe buy priority boarding to ensure your bag gets in the overhead bin. For a flight less than three hours, maybe save your cash. It’s simply easier to put up with a middle seat in the back of the plane on a short dash.
And know when to splurge for first class
You know who never flies budget airlines? True ballers. You know who thus gets to feel like a baller on a budget? Maybe you, sport! When flying Norwegian, for instance, weigh their PremiumFlex option, the cheapskate’s version of first class. The seats are comfy, the food’s delicious, the amenities are plush. Even that upgrade to Flex comes with free meals, fast-track boarding, and two checked bags. Especially if you’re going to be buying a lot of a la carte services anyway, consider the package upgrade.