Weekend survey: Should cruise lines adopt “a-la-carte” fares in exchange for a lower ticket price?

Cruises used to be billed as “all-inclusive” experiences. But as I report in my latest National Geographic Traveler column, some cruise lines seem enamored of the airline industry’s rich profits, derived almost exclusively from fees.

This weekend’s question is simple: Should they go “a-la-carte” with their fares?

(By “a-la-carte” I mean unbundling the cruise fare, and charging extra for meals and other amenities that used to be included in the price of the cruise.)

Incidentally, if you want to see how far this can be taken, check out the European cruise line EasyCruise, which charged you extra for almost everything (including towels and maid service, in its first year of operation).

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A “non-smoking” seat on USA3000? What is this, the 80s?

When Betty Lees booked a flight from Philadelphia to Cancun, Mexico, recently, her confirmation contained an odd relic from the past: a request for a “non-smoking” seat.

It also contained a nasty whiff of the future — a $9 charge for the seat.

“Very curious,” she told me. “Since you can’t smoke on the plane, why is there a fee for a non-smoking seat?”
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US Airways fined $40,000 for failing to disclose full airfares

In yet another sign that the Transportation Department is serious about protecting the rights of consumers, the government this morning fined US Airways $40,000 for failing to disclose the full price consumers must pay for air transportation.

“When consumers shop for air travel, they have a right to know how much they will have to pay,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a prepared statement, adding, “We will continue to ensure that airlines comply with our price advertising rules.”

Here’s the full consent order (PDF).
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Continental posts erroneous “test” fare to its site — but what is it testing?

co1Here’s a story about an airline doing the wrong thing, then the right thing, and then a confusing thing.

But let’s start with the wrong thing: When Bob Walker booked a flight from Newark to Hong Kong for a colleague, he noticed the “taxes and fees” portion were dramatically lower than the surcharges he paid for an identical ticket. Walker became suspicious. Was Continental, with which he had Platinum status, trying to pull a fast one?
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Avis adds $10 rental extension fee to offset “cost of reorganizing our fleet”

avis1When Drew Tipton tried to add a few more days to his Avis rental, he expected to pay the daily rate. But wait, what’s this on the bill? A $10 rental extension fee?

Yes, I believe it is.

What’s a rental extension fee?

Tipton wondered. I did, too. So he asked.
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