Several airlines have added options which could make getting to the snow more comfortable and convenient for skiers and riders in North America and elsewhere. But, in these days of charging for everything that once was available for free, you will pay for the options.

Austrian Airlines recently announced that economy class passengers on their long-haul flights, which would be any skier or rider heading from North America to Europe, can “buy more legroom.”

Check in via the Web (see link below), pay 70 euros (US$100), and you get to sit in what the airline calls a “coveted” seat in an emergency exit row. In addition to the euros, you must be at least 16 years old, have no physical disabilities, and be traveling without a child two or younger or a pet.

How's this for convenience? “Customers can easily book this increase in personal comfort by using their credit card.”

A headline in the same press release proclaimed, “Pimp your Economy Class Ticket” in bold letters.

That enticing exclamation introduced the information that economy class passengers also can buy access to the airline’s business class lounge in Vienna for 35 euros (US$45) per person. That provides a “wide range of meals and beverages,” free WLAN connection, Internet access, national and international newspapers, and TV.

Another amenity you can “pimp your economy class ticket” when you check in on their website is to buy a business class upgrade at short notice, “even hours before the flight.” You may not want to know that cost.

Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa Group, the biggest airline federation in Europe, and a member of the Star Alliance.

Southwest Airlines has added a “Low Cost Calendar” tool to its website, most usable among the skiing and riding population who are flexible.

You go to their website (see link below) and poke around for the lowest price available for each day on a monthly calendar.

Southwest operates 144 nonstop flights daily to 42 destinations from Denver.

Here’s another airline program that costs money but might make life easier for travelers headed to the mountains.

Continental Airlines has introduced FareLock on certain domestic and international trips. Using the airline’s website, you pay a fee to hold a reservation at a locked-in price for 72 hours, or seven days with no commitment to buy the ticket.

Fees start at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for the week-long option.

Continental said the fee depends on such factors as itinerary, number of days to departure, and the length of the hold.

"FareLock is an innovative option for customers who need extra time to plan their travel before purchasing a ticket," said Chris Amenechi, managing director of merchandising. "This new option is another way that Continental is giving our customers more choices and more control over their travel experience."

He noted the program allows travelers to avoid fare increases or sold-out flights.

Customers use the Continental website (link below). You return within the time you specified, or choose an auto-ticketing option which buys the ticket at 72 hours or seven days.

Amenechi said the airline will continue to offer its 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows reservation changes and cancellations with full refund without a fee within 24 hours of booking. For customers choosing FareLock, the 24-hour flexible booking policy remains in effect upon ticketing, although the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

More information:

http://www.austrian.com

http://www.southwest.com/cgi-bin/lowFareFinderEntry

http://www.continental.com