Packing on travel fees

Travel industry says add-ons intended to save you money

Published On: Nov 14 2012 06:30:53 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 14 2012 07:45:00 AM EST

Tallying up the cost to travel isn't as simple anymore, with all of those extra fees.  It used to be all included in the price, but now things that were once standard are now considered extras at an extra price. 

The travel industry has heard the complaints, but says those little take 'em or leave 'em options are actually intended to save you money.

Kim-Marie Evans with LuxuryTravelMom.com is always traveling and is shocked by the newest add-ons she discovered on her latest trip.

“It’s not even nickel and dimed.  It’s being twenty dollar’d to death. It’s for everything,” she said.

From a $5 printing fee for boarding passes to a $3 bottle of water to blankets for $6.99, she's seen all kinds of charges.

“It seems to be a never ending slippery slope,” she said.

Other examples include a nearly $4 fee for a 30-minute children's TV show in your room a major hotel chain and a $7.49 daily surcharge that some rental car companies are charging for a toll pass transponder, whether you use the gadget or not.

"It always amazes me at how creative these airline companies, car rental companies, hotels can be when it comes to fees,” said Kim Orlando with Travelingmom.com.

But the travel companies stress they have extra expenses, too, including higher fuel and food costs.  Airlines For America, a group representing the airline industry, says they're just following the lead of other industries that separate out fees.

John P. Heimlich with Airlines for America says for example, "“Baseball parks, we don’t go and expect a hot dog and a coke for free.  We pay more for better seating.”

So the argument is that unbundling or breaking down the extras into options you can pick and choose, is actually intended to save you money.

"These are optional services. Not everyone has or wants to check a bag. Not everyone wants to buy a meal, rent a DVD, buy a coca cola, so the airlines are under the pressure to offer the lowest fare possible to those who just wanted that,” said Heimlich.

Kim-Marie Evans makes adjustments, like only packing carry-ons and no checked bags.  But says she hates thinking of what could be next.

“I’m really waiting for there to be a coin slot in the bathroom on the airplane,” she said.

Meantime, Airlines for America points out customers do have the final say on fees.

“The marketplace will sort it out and ones that customers simply think are unacceptable will quickly be rescinded,” said Heimlich.

And that law of supply and demand also applies to hotels, rental cars and other transportation companies adding extra fees.