Paying for Perks

Want the travel amenities you're used to? Be ready to pay up.
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This story appears in the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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.
Edition: May 2017

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