Christopher Elliott looks into whether airlines are refunding extra fees when the service is not used by the passenger. Not very often and with difficulty.
Whether you use tobacco products or not, you have to know about these new problem areas. Or, your vacation can go up in smoke.
This case underscores the sound reasoning behind the federal government's decision to force airlines to disclose these so-called "options" for air travelers in a proposed new regulation.
When Patrick LaPella says he made a “complete mess” of his hotel reservations in Covington, KY., you should take him at his word.
Tom Ungar and his wife spent $128 to fly from Venice, Italy, to Naples, which is a ridiculously low fare. But when their checked luggage tipped the scales at just over 20 kilos, their airline demanded an additional $152.
One dollar may not sound like a lot, but when American businesses in general — and travel companies in particular — build their entire ventures on fees like that, it is a big deal. (American raked in $266 million in ticket change fees and $255 million in baggage fees during the first half of 2013. It's on track to collect more than $1 billion in fees for the year, with most of them coming in a few dollars at a time.)
The domestic airline industry as a whole is in the process of re-imagining its business model, moving away from one in which the price of a ticket covers the basic cost of air transportation to one in which optional fees account for much of its profits.
Like many resort hotels, the Marriott San Juan Resort and Stellaris Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico, adds a fee to its daily room rate to cover amenities such as bottled water, a casino coupon, local phone calls and wireless Internet. It doesn’t matter whether you use the services — Marriott’s fee is mandatory.
Several media outlets reported that airlines are reserving more window and aisle seats for passengers willing to pay between $25 and $59 extra, which means that family members who don’t cough up the money might not be able to sit together. At the peak of the summer travel season, the reports breathlessly suggested, flying as a family might be nearly impossible.
Earlier this week, Spirit Airlines announced it would begin charging for carry-on luggage. That drew criticism from the Secretary of Transportation, who I interviewed on Wednesday. I wanted to give Ben Baldanza, Spirit's chief executive, an opportunity to respond -- and to explain the rationale behind charging for carry-on bags. Here's our interview.