Monday, June 21, 2010

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

Is it just me or does it seem like the second you leave for your vacation you start paying fees on top of everything you've already laid out for your trip? Seriously, I'm thinking about plastering my shirt in twenty dollar bills and letting them pick them off of me like vultures ripping at a carcass. Perhaps that's a bit offside, but just today I read about a new fee from American Airlines called the "Boarding and Flexibility Package." I know it sounds like some kind of new workout craze, but do you know what it actually is? It's a fee to board the airplane early. It ranges from $9 to $19 each way, per passenger. Are you kidding me?! Now forgive me as I digress for a moment here, but why in the world would you want to get on an airplane a minute sooner than you have to? Let alone pay for it? I fly a lot and, let me tell you, I am the last one on that plane before they close the hatch. And I'm not talking about an O.J. Simpson running through the airport situation. I get there in plenty on time. I just figure if I am going to be spending three or four hours on the thing, why prolong it?

Anyway, the assault on your wallet doesn't stop at the airport. Have you rented a car lately? I got a rental at $200 and $30 of my bill was a concession fee. I'm thinking, I didn't buy a hotdog (yet), how could they be slapping me with concession fees? Turns out the concession is the fee the rental car company pays to the airport. Can you imagine if your grocery store tacked on their rent to your tab right as you got to the register? And how about booking a hotel through one of these travel sites? You go on Expedia or Orbitz and click on the $99 Orlando offer and somewhere between there and the checkout it's $137 a night! How does that happen? Fees.

Well there is not much I can tell you about the airport or car rental fees, other than to drive everywhere in your own car, or walk. But I can offer this bit of advice when it comes to lodging: rent a timeshare from its owner. When you go on and see an Orlando timeshare resort you like for $71/night, you work directly with the owner and settle on a price. Presumably, $71/night (or less). And that's it. Now once you get there and you decide you want to hit the mini-bar, valet park your call, make a bunch of phone call, etc., all bets are off. But that is your choice. Fees that you had no chance to waive -- or with cryptic sounding names -- are just not part of the equation. And no horrible William Shatner ads either, I might add.

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