How to tackle the latest airfare and hotel costs

Travel supplements are so boring. And they are only getting worse.

At least that’s the assessment of Jayne Hanlin, a retired St. Louis elementary school teacher. At the end of last summer, the hotel chain informed her that it would begin to apply a new “destination fee” of $ 20 to each night of her stay. The mandatory fee covers ‘premium’ Wi-Fi, phone calls, and two bottles of water in her room – items that should be included.

“It’s ridiculous,” Hanlin said.

As ridiculous as they may seem, the latest travel supplements seem to be here to stay. Whether it’s a fee to print your boarding pass at the airport or a room service supplement for cruise lines, the travel industry likes to help itself with more of your money. . Even lawsuits by two state attorneys general and the threat of Congressional action have failed to slow the rise in living expenses, which are arguably the industry’s worst expense.

But there is something you can do about the latest travel supplements. Strategies range from complaining to the right person to boycotting a business with unfriendly travel supplements. Ultimately, Congress may have to step in to resolve this issue.

Resort fees: How popular booking sites like Expedia deal with controversial fees

How to complain about your travel supplement

You can get rid of most travel supplements with the right approach.

Consider what happened to Mark Jackson when he recently moved to an upscale hotel chain in Southern California. He had booked the hotel online using his points, but upon arrival, he noticed an undisclosed travel supplement: a $ 30 per night resort fee.

Luckily, Jackson worked for a travel deal site and knew what to do. He took screenshots of the reservation process, which showed that the hotel’s resort fee had not been disclosed prior to booking. “The hotel has removed the fees at the checkout,” he says.

Negotiating unnecessary fees takes patience, persistence, and politeness. But if that fails, there are still credit card disputes. I have heard from many readers who simply took issue with their MasterCard or Visa charges. You have the right to do this under federal law, and if it is a questionable charge, you will likely get a refund.

Lauren Wolfe, who started, says sending a letter to your state attorney general can help, too. “I have seen fees being reimbursed after someone filed a consumer complaint with their attorney general,” she says. You can find an online consumer complaint form on your state attorney general’s website.

Cruise fees:The USA TODAY Guide to Cruise Ship Tip Fees

How to Get Rid of Travel Supplements Permanently

Robert Smith is unhappy with the automatic tips and destination fees charged by hotels and restaurants. Hotels add them to your bill “for your convenience” and hope you don’t notice. They can inflate your bill by up to 20%, or even more if you add a tip by accident.

“This whole concept of charging extra for 100% discretionary activities is another example of corporate greed and complete disinterest in customer satisfaction,” says Smith, a program manager who currently lives in San José, Costa Rica.

So Smith recently told Marriott that he would no longer do business with the hotel chain, as long as they charged unwanted fees.

Marriott under fire: DC AG Says Marriott’s Resort Fees Misleading, Says Hotel Chain

“It won’t change anything,” he predicts.

Or will he do it? In fact, experts say a sustained boycott is the most effective tool for change. If enough travelers refuse to pay a charge, it will disappear. And if the company isn’t listening, then this may disappear.

What if a boycott didn’t work?

The problem is, the travel industry is not as competitive as it looks. We are just a few airlines, car rental companies, and hotel chains. So when one business charges a fee and the rest follow, there’s no escaping it.

Thoughtful regulation could solve the problem in the long run. And there are a lot of thoughtful laws out there. For example, the Fair Fees Act would prohibit airlines from charging fees “unreasonable or disproportionate” to the costs they incur. Similar laws that would restrict living expenses are also under consideration.

But perhaps governments should be more concerned with creating an environment where competition thrives, rather than micromanaging costs. This is because travel agencies are smarter and more adaptable than Congress. Today’s tourist tax is tomorrow’s destination tax.

It is up to us to remove the incentive to charge for these unwanted travel supplements. Perhaps we can start by refusing to patronize a company that imposes these unethical fees on its customers.

These are the worst travel supplements

Hotel resort fee. Hotel resort charges are a mandatory daily charge between $ 20 and $ 30, billed separately from the advertised price. These unnecessary fees, which are supposed to cover amenities that were previously included in the hotel rate, are widely regarded as the worst travel extras in the travel industry. How it should be: If mandatory, charges should be part of the room rate.

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Airline fees. These range from the cost of printing your boarding pass to baggage surcharges. Airlines qualify the revenues from these fees as “ancillary” revenues. How it should be: Each plane ticket must include at least one checked baggage and one confirmed seat. And yes, no one should charge you for printing your boarding pass. Already.

Cruise fees. The latest are the room service delivery charges. But the worst part are the “optional” tips that are automatically added to your folio. If you don’t notice them before you disembark, you have to pay. How it should be: Adding an optional tip to your bill is called a negative option denial, and it’s unethical. You should have to opt for tips – not withdraw them.