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Paying for Perks

Want the travel amenities you're used to? Be ready to pay up.

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.
Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.

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This article was originally published in the August 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Paying for Perks.

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