Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Fees Go Up, The Fees Go Away

Seems like all the chatter this week is about travel fees.

Well, that and the JetBlue employee who fulfilled every disgruntled employees fantasies by cursing out a passenger over the loudspeaker, grabbing two beers and then escaping via the inflatable slide. (I'm guessing Steve Slater's life story will soon be the fodder for some type of Butch Cassidy-like adventure film; I hope he's got a good agent.)

But back to fees, where the news is less Hollywood blockbuster-worthy. Industry magazine Travel Weekly recently reported that airfare experts are stymied about how to report pricing. Everyone knows that overall costs are going up. But because the actual increases tend to be in corollary fees, its become very difficult for the trackers to, well, track. The article points out that the one nearly fee-free carrier, Southwest (bravo to you Southwest, by the way) has been raising rates; its average one-way fare has inched from $110 to $112 to $132 recently, the clearest indication that consumer costs are rising.

Paris Las Vegas (Photo by Thierry)
But in terms of airfares the advice for consumers must be: add in ALL fees before booking a fare, especially if you must check bags. Very, very often the airline that seems cheaper on first glance will turn out to be the price loser in the end.

As well, a number of new fees will be added to the bills of those traveling to Europe. Travelers heading from the UK to the USA will pay a passenger duty of 96 GBP (about $100) to fly out in economy class, 120 GPB in premium classes (including premium economy). This additional fee goes into effect in November. Ireland will be imposing a similar duty of 10 euros (about $14) and Germany 26 euros ($36).

So that's the bad news for travelers. In a happy development, the Harrah's Properties in Las Vegas (Harrah's, The Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Bally's, Imperial Palace, Planet Hollywood, Rio, Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, Paris Las Vegas) have announced they will be ditching their resort fees, meaning its going to be easier to figure out how much you'll spend on that upcoming Sin City vacation. Well, if you can avoid the slot machines, that is.


  1. I can only agree on your input on fees.

    Steve Slater's life story is actually more intertwinded with the luggage fees than it seems at first look. As more customers bring carry-ons in order to avoid the check-in fee, overhead bins become quickly full, causing stress among flight attendants having to either rearrange the luggages or request relucant passengers to check-in large carry-ons (although they don't charge a fee in theses cases).
    Note- I do see limits to applying this logic to Steve Slater's story as A) the luggage altercation occured at the end of the flight and B) JetBlue does not charge a first luggage fee.

    Regarding the UK fees: They do seem unreasonably large. I'm not sure if that's $100 per way or if it's only applied to one leg - but either way, one can travel thru a third country for the same price.

    It currently costs about the same to fly to Brussels (want to have a taste of India on your way to Europe? Check out Jet Airways) as it does to London. Then, one can find a Eurostar ticket for $57/way at if booking in advance.

    While it would be ironic to take Ryanair to avoid a fee, the same could be acheived by flying into continental Europe, and booking a second ticket with Ryanair to London - provided that one checks in online, does not bring check-in luggages and can go without a snack or restroom during the flight ;)

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