How much is that cheap flight really costing you?

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What we’re reading

• How much is that cheap flight really costing you? (Daily Finance)

Courts will treat Asiana passengers differently (Yahoo! News)

Restaurants rethink menus to woo baby boomers (NBC News)

Avis Budget acquires Payless Car Rental for $50 million (AutoNews)

Well-known hazards likely factors in Asiana crash (Airwise)
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Are you too desperate for an airfare deal?

d3images/Shutterstock
d3images/Shutterstock
What would you do for a cheap airfare?

If you said “anything” then you’re probably going to love flying in the future. It’s a place that will be filled with steals and deals, and for a lucky few who take their time to study the system, you’ll be able to travel for next to nothing.

The rest of us? Not so much.
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3 surprises lurking in your airfare — bet you don’t know what they are

Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock
Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock

Your airline ticket isn’t what it seems to be.

I’m reminded of that whenever I hear from readers like Heidi Fox. Her husband tried to switch his United Airlines ticket from Chicago to Orlando to an earlier flight on the same day, and an airline representative assured him he’d only have to pay a $75 change fee.

But what the rep apparently didn’t say is that Fox’s husband would have to shell out a $744 fare difference, too.

“It was only after he received the emailed receipt that he was made aware of the $744 cost differential,” she says.
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Bill aims to scuttle new airfare pricing rule

Enjoy the government’s new airfare rule. It might not last.

On Jan. 26, the Transportation Department began requiring airlines and ticket agents to quote fares that include all mandatory taxes and fees. Since 1988, they’d been allowed to advertise fares that didn’t include government-imposed taxes and fees.
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Stop obsessing over airfares, and buy now

Should I wait for a fare sale or buy my airline ticket now?

That’s the question I’m most frequently asked as a consumer advocate. And it’s most often asked now, just as readers are starting to think about their summer vacations.

“How far out would you advise purchasing tickets to London from Baltimore-Washington?” wonders Anna Fansler.

“Should we book soon, or can we wait for possibly cheaper deals that might come through?” asks Laura Schwingel.

I won’t keep you in suspense, ladies: Book your tickets soon.
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Holland America kept 100 percent of my airfare — can it do that?

Cruise refunds. There, didn’t your blood pressure just go up? Mine sure did.

Cruise refunds can be an endless source of frustration for travelers like Jeff Grill’s in-law’s, who missed their Holland America ship in Venice, Italy, recently. They knew they were going to lose the value of their cruise. But their airfare? When Holland America pocked that, they were surprised.

Under Holland America’s cruise contract — the legal agreement between you and the the company — any airfare refund should have been passed along to the customer. Rule 4 says, “[If] the air transportation we arrange is unavailable or otherwise fails to materialize, our sole liability will be limited to refunding the air add-on paid or cruise only credit.”

But that didn’t happen.
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The airline industry is profitable again — really profitable — and here’s one reason why

In a word: fees. Lots and lots of fees.

Alright, it isn’t just the baggage surcharges and change fees. Airlines have cut capacity and raised fares, and business travelers are coming back after a long absence. But with United Airlines posting its first profit in three years and Delta recording its best quarter ever, you’ve gotta wonder — how much do fees and surcharges have to do with it?

We have an answer, thanks to Amadeus and IdeaWorks. Disclosed ancillary revenue activity from the world’s airlines jumped 43 percent to $13.5 billion in 2009, compared to a year before, they reported.

The ranking reveals United, America, Delta, Qantas, and Ryanair as top overall ancillary revenue producers for 2009.
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