Paying for Perks
Business travel costs are on the upswing. According to American Express Business Travel, airline tickets should increase 3 percent to 6 percent--and hotels 1 percent to 5 percent--this year. But it's not just the big-ticket items causing pain. The little add-ons--fees, surcharges and penalties--contribute, sometimes significantly, to a trip's total cost.
These add-ons include:
- Fuel surcharges: Many major airlines add $10 or more to ticket prices to cover high fuel costs.
- Ticket change fees: It's common knowledge that airlines charge anywhere from $25 to $200 to change a reservation. What's less known is that if you book on Orbitz or Travelocity, you'll pay an additional $30 to change a flight and $25 to change a hotel reservation.
- Excess baggage fees: Airlines are instituting new fees for overweight baggage-and rigorously enforcing them. Fees are typically $25 to $50 for bags weighing more than 50 pounds. You'll also pay $50 to $80 for oversized bags and $110 for each bag over the per-person limit.
- Curbside check-in fees: Some of the major airlines (including American and United) charge $2 for curbside check-in, a service that used to be free.
- Resort fees: For business meetings held at resorts, business travelers often get stuck with charges of $10 to $25 per day for towels at the pool and access to the fitness center, even if they don't use the pool or gym. For non-resort hotels, you only pay for the gym if you use it.
- Early departure fees: Some hotels levy a fee, typically about $50, for guests who leave before their scheduled departure date.
- Aisle seat fee: Northwest Airlines charges $15 for "Coach Choice" seats on aisles or exit rows. That's still much less than on Virgin Atlantic, which charges $75 if you want an exit-row seat.
- In-flight blanket: What price for comfort? On ATA, a pillow and blanket will set you back $9.95. It might be worth it to carry your own.