Trending Topics

How to Avoid Hidden, Crazy Travel Fees

Photo Credit: 401(K) 2013 via flickr

You booked the flight, you reserved the hotel room and the rental car and maybe you even figured out the cost of your meals. You’re set. No surprises, right? Maybe not.

As we too often find out when traveling these days, the cost of the trip is not necessarily the cost of the trip. Little fees, taxes, charges and surcharges pop up along the way, sometimes so often that before you’re even at your destination, your budget has been all but blown.

Keep your eyes peeled for these expensive travel fees. With a little extra effort, you may be able to avoid them.

The rental car fee: From convention center expansions in San Diego to sports stadiums in Houston and Seattle, cities are increasingly finding the airport rental-car counter a swell place to pick up quick cash to fund construction projects.

At Chicago’s O’Hare airport, you’ll pay $8 daily, on top of substantial taxes and fees, so the city can build a new airport rental car center. In Charlotte, N.C., travelers helped fund the building of the NASCAR Sports Hall of Fame. Often, these fees show up as undecipherable line items on your final bill.

How to avoid: At many destinations, you’ll find that the overall tax burden is lighter when you rent a car at an off-airport agency location. Anyone headed to a destination that has reasonable public transit links might consider picking up the car a few stops away. You may be able to pick up a car at an in-town location and return it to the airport without an additional charge.

Britain’s departure tax: The government calls it an “air passenger duty,” and it’s supposed to end global warming. Flying London to New York? As of April, those flying coach will pay about $100 in taxes. Everyone else will pay just over $200. You’ll must pay the duty tax even if you’re using frequent-flier miles.

How to avoid: Flying home from London by way of another destination lowers the cost of the fee; just check that it doesn’t increase the cost of the ticket, thus negating your savings. Irish airfare taxes, for instance, are much lower.

The human being fee: Looking for the best deal on your next flight? Resist the urge to pick up the phone. Many airlines will charge you a fee for tickets booked with a live human. Again, $25 (that’s what you pay with United and American, among others) may not sound like much on its own, but these charges add up.

How to avoid: Book your ticket and make any changes to that ticket online. Or find out what the best fare is by talking to an agent, then hang up and book online…

Read More: 

Back to top