FEES

Hidden car rental fees can hurt international travelers – but they don’t have to

We’ve all been there.

You step off the plane after a long flight ready to start your vacation, find your luggage at baggage claim and stride confidently to the rental car desk.

With your prepaid confirmation voucher in hand, you think you’re ready to go. You expect to be handed the keys and ushered into a like-new vehicle that’s two sizes larger than anticipated. You know, the way it happens in commercials.

What happens instead? You’re delayed at the counter. Then you’re hit with additional, unexpected charges.
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Why has the government abandoned air travelers?

Are you old enough to remember when we had a bona fide government? When our Congressmembers worked for us?

Before the Supreme Court decided money is “speech”?

Since then, the airlines have been speaking to Congress in their favorite language: money.

We used to have regulations against those things. But then the lobbyists lured their way into our weak-willed Congress and convinced lawmakers to heavily deregulate.
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Traveling with pets may cost you more than you think

Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Mihejevs/Shutterstock
A carry-on bag is included in Lana Joseph’s ticket price whenever she flies from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on United Airlines. But if that carry-on includes Molly, her six-pound Yorkshire terrier, Joseph has to cough up an additional $250 round-trip.

“That’s way too much for a bag that goes under the seat,” says Joseph, a retired hairstylist from Akron, Ohio, who spends her winters in South Florida. “I can see a small charge, but not an exorbitant fee.”

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of pet travel — a world that some say shouldn’t even exist. Americans spent an estimated $55.7 billion on pets last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, most of it on food and veterinary care. But an unknown portion of that amount also paid for plane tickets and accommodations for man’s best friends.
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You deserve a refund for those junk fees

Diego Cervo/Shutterstock
Diego Cervo/Shutterstock
What if they had to give it all back?

Imagine if someone forced airlines, hotels and car rental companies to return every penny they took from you under questionable circumstances. The checked-bag fee, often poorly disclosed. The resort fee billed to your room, whether you used the “free” wireless and unlimited local phone calls or not. The license recovery fees that pay for your rental car’s plates — as if that were optional.

These extras, which most travelers call junk fees, aren’t just expensive annoyances. Vast sectors of the travel industry have made them a cornerstone of their business operations, with airlines leading the way down this ethically troublesome path.

It’s a practice the industry delicately calls “unbundling,” or removing often essential components of a product from the base price to make it look deceptively cheaper.
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