Travel Budget Busters: Add-On Fees

Some fee heavy companies can make customers feel left out in the cold.

A recent White House report has shined a light on extra fees, which have grown significantly within the travel industry in recent years.  The report states that airline bag fees and flight change fees alone accounted for an extra $22.5 billion dollars of revenue in 2015. 

As third part travel sites grew, it became very easy to price comparison shop.  This led to a rise of consumers basing their booking decisions purely on price.  The add on fee became a way for airlines, hotels, and more companies to compete on price comparison search engines while also not losing revenue.  It also became a way to not give up more money to the third party sites as they do not have to give up a portion of the extra fees like they do with the base price shown on the site.

These extra fees have made it more difficult on consumers trying to get the best price.  Since the fees vary widely from company to company within the same industry it has become standard practice to do your homework before booking to ensure you aren’t surprised.  

Airlines are at the forefront of charging extra fees for just about everything.  The idealistic golden age of aviation full service airline experience is now only reserved for those paying extra for it.  For many consumers the base price is only a starting point.

Checked bag fees are increasingly common.  So much so, a cottage industry has sprung up with a line of products designed to avoid checked bag fees and fit everything in your carry on.  Spirit Airlines has taken it one step further and now charges for checked bags and carry on bags. 

Other fees that may apply include seat selection, change fees, and booking fees on reservations placed on the phone or in person. Amenities such as snacks, drinks, and wifi also will cost you extra on many airlines. 

a portion of the many fees on the Ryanair website

Among the most ridiculous fees belong to Ryanair.  They have turned fee charging into an art form.  Their strategy has been to create a set of rules that are in opposition to how most airlines operate and rely on ignorant passengers who fail to read the fine print.  In addition to charging for checked bags their max carry on limit is smaller than their competitors and enforce it with fervor.  Those who are not prepared for a smaller carry on bag are charged for it despite purchasing luggage they thought was safe from checked bag fees.  The most controversial fee is failing to check in online using their smartphone app and requiring a boarding pass at the airport.  You will be subject to a boarding pass re-issue fee.


When in doubt ask the reception desk if something costs extra

Resort hotels have gotten in on the act with extra and hidden fees.  Among the most prevalent and toughest to avoid is the resort fee.  You will usually get a list of items it covers, most of which you will never use.  Las Vegas resorts are notorious for some of the highest resort fees with some properties charging $40 per night on top of the hotel rate.

At first glance it looks like you got a good rate for the MGM Grand until you see the mandatory resort fee adds more than 50% to the total cost of the room

Other fees found in the fine print may include parking fees, early check in fees, late check out fees, additional person fees, gym fees, telephone surcharges, and more.  You might also have to pay to use the resort wifi network.  As with airlines, count on the base price being only the beginning unless you are careful.   

Disney is adding more and more up charges every day.

Theme Parks have also entered the world of add on fees.  Hard tickets events are becoming common for Theme Park operators.  During certain times of the year like Halloween, the park will have an operating day followed by an extra separate ticket event in the evening.  This allows operators to get two admission tickets per day.  Other popular add ons are VIP tours and front of the lines passes where you can pay extra to skip the line at popular attractions.

The industry leader in up charges is Disney.  In particular Walt Disney World has taken the add on fee and up charge to another level.  Among the charges you may experience at a Disney park are priority seating for shows and parades, renting a private cabana inside the park or special transportation shuttling you between various parks at Disney World. 

Disneyland recently hosted a special event so fans could say goodbye to a popular attraction that was being closed down.  The cost was $95.  A couple of weeks later they host another $95 special event to get a special first performance of a returning favorite, the Main St. Electrical Parade.    

The plethora of information available on the web has given consumers more power than ever to search for the lowest price.  However, it has now become necessary to do your research or you could end up paying much more than you thought which can put a damper on any trip.

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