Savvy Travel Decisions

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ALARMING NEW TREND OF TRANSPORTATION SURCHARGES AND FEES AND CRUISE OPTIONAL ADD-ONS:

 

Several airlines are attempting to introduce a barrage of new fees to the flying public.  It all began with a $5.00 per bag fee for curbside luggage check-in in lieu of tipping the redcaps, who, incidentally, in addition to the $5.00 fee, still expect a reasonable gratuity for their services.  The airlines gained revenue here at the demise of the redcap baggage handlers.

 

Make no mistake, baggage fees, add-on fees, and ticket change fees are a cash cow for the airline industry, as witnessed by recent Department of Transportation figures indicating that United States airlines collected in excess of $14 BILLION.  Interestingly, Southwest Airlines, with no baggage fees for the first two pieces of luggage, is profitable, whereas the gouging airlines are not – it’s all about efficiency and productivity. 

 

Most travelers are willing to forego the minuscule bag of eleven peanuts and the inedible meals that even the homeless and any self-respecting dog would decline.  Airlines believe in showing “silent” movies with no audio.  Strange, but faced with no alternative, some passengers are even willing to pay for an earphone to in order to listen to the movie audio.  Next, aisle and window seats will command premium prices.  There is, however, a limit:

 

Unless the public rebels, it will get worse.  Enough!! What’s next?: $25.00 per carry-on; with a coin slot on the restroom door or a meter charge of $1.00 a minute on the potter?; elimination of one restroom per aircraft; a $5.00 - $10.00 fee for your luggage to be retrieved in the baggage area within 30 minutes of flight arrival versus 60 minutes?; a $25.00 fee for a seat back with 3 inches of legroom versus two inches?; a reservation charge for talking with a human being, formerly known as “customer service?” 

"Empty Pockets"

Copyright toonClipart.com 

 

A $10.00 surcharge for an upholstered cushion versus a burlap bag?; a snack of ten peanuts or six pretzels for $3.00, $4.00 for a soda, $10.00 for a cocktail, $2.00 for a cup of water (U.S. Air), $2.00 for a pillow, $10.00 for a blanket.  Almost forgot: barf bags: $2.00!  Free magazines are being eliminated to reduce both weight and cost.  Best inquire if you must pay extra to bring your own newspaper and/or book aboard the flight - added weight, you know.  Shades of the Titanic!  Some airlines are even replacing their existing emergency flotation devices with “lighter” fabric life vests, a scary thought should you be become so unfortunate as to be dunked into a body of water!  Speaking of water: even the drinkable water is being rationed aboard flights in an effort to appease the bean counters counting weight.  Plan on paying for H2O in the future-especially on Parchment Airlines!!

 

Spirit Airlines is notorious for cheap low fares.  By the time you are nickel and dimed (make that dollars!) to death by their “ala carte”, “unbundling,” add-on fees, your so-called bargain suddenly begins to lose its appeal. 

 

A baggage fee for checked luggage, a fee for carry-ons - Sir, are you going to charge for my wallet and my wife’s purse???  Should I ditch my comb in my back pocket?  Overweight baggage fees, seat assignments, fee for window and aisle seats, a fee for extra leg room, etc., etc., etc!!!! 

 

It won’t be long and the add-on costs will exceed the base airfare!

 

Predictably, the airlines will soon begin charging airfares based on the weight of the passenger.  This presents exciting new entrepreneurial opportunities at airports.  Report early and treat yourself to a steam bath and vigorous workout at the Pre Flight Airport Spa before the airline weighs you!  Meet with your pre-flight athletic trainer to work out.

 

Which nickel and dime surcharge program in their overall mega-dollar scheme, does the airline industry have in store for us next?  United and competitors have imposed a $15.00 charge for the first piece of luggage checked, a $25.00 - $50.00 charge for a second piece of luggage, $125.00 for three pieces of luggage, and a $125.00 - $250.00 fee for “overweight” or oversized luggage (Max: 9 inches by 24 inches by 14 inches) for luggage (over 50 lbs).  Do they pay us if they lose the luggage???  They should.  Witness that close to one million suitcases are being misdirected or lost by United States airlines in one month alone!  The chances of misdirected or lost luggage increases dramatically whenever your itinerary is not non-stop and includes airline connections.  If you are a golfer and wish to take your trusty golf clubs on vacation, reach for your wallet.  Ditto snow skiers: most comfortable with your own favorite pair of skis and boots?  Be prepared for a baggage fee or having to rent substitute unfamiliar ski equipment at your destination.  A single pair of skis and boots checked with some airlines will set you back $250.00 as a second piece of luggage!!  Unless you’re Tiger Woods, with such outrageous fees, traveling with one’s golf clubs or skis could easily become extinct.  Ski rental outfits are responding by offering a wide choice of ski brands and equipment.  Alas, even surfers and fishermen are not exempt as airlines charge to check their boards and fishing gear.

 

If you are allowed only 50 pounds, re-assess the weight of your EMPTY luggage. Every ounce counts.  Even lint weighs!

 

If the suitcase weighs 10 pounds, you can only pack 40 pounds.  The alternative is to purchase a suitcase with tissue-paper sides.  Do you pack only two underwear instead of seven and risk being smelly?  Three socks instead of ten?  Three shirts instead of eight?  Don’t forget the weight of your duffel bag’s contents!  The tough decisions one must make are absolutely maddening!  My God, I forgot to include trousers and suit coats!  Even worse, do I have any spare allowance for a couple of handkerchiefs and pajamas?  Ties?  Might have to leave home.

Perhaps I should wear layered clothing to the airport? - three days worth; definitely will help reduce weight in suitcase.  Better yet, I’m exhausted.  Maybe I’ll just stay home and forget the trip!!

 

The latest add-on scheme is charging for priority boarding passes and seat assignments which cost $10.00 - $26.00 per person one-way. 

 

These penny-anny airline add-ons resulted in the airlines adding $22.6 billion in new revenue last year! 

 

http://www.Truprice.com is a great site to check the true cost of airline add-ons charges.

 

http://www.madashellabouthiddenfees.com is an interesting consumer group upset over the uncontrolled proliferation and lack of disclosure practice of airline add-on fees and is proactive in attempting to rectify the problem. 

 

SAVVY PACKING TIPS:

Never, ever, have an exposed name identity label attached to your suitcase.  Invest in name tags where the identity of the leather tag is covered and accessed only in the event of emergency.  Crooks love to peruse name tags identifying travelers names and addresses, particularly when you are lined up for a flight to an international destination.  This activity is most prominent during red-eye travel times.

 

Always have a copy of your name and address contact INSIDE the suitcase.

 

Always pack your heaviest or solid items in the bottom of your luggage: books, alarm clock, breakables, portable iron, shoes, etc.  Layering or rolling clothing atop these items prevents the heavier items from moving within the suitcase and provides extra protection against breakage.  Use tissue paper for delicates. 

 

Packed items with extension cords are an invite to have your bags being opened and expected by security inspectors, as X-ray scanning does not distinguish their purpose.  This can cause you luggage not to join the cargo hold on your flight. 

 

If you enjoy reading while on vacation, think seriously about packing several books in your luggage.  The books’ weight will seriously contribute to the 50-pound limitation.  Hardback books can be heavy.  Instead, pack them in your carry-on.

 

Better yet, in lieu of lugging heavy books and paying for overweight luggage, seriously consider purchasing an e-reader (iPad, Kindle, tablet-style personal computer, or a myriad of other choices) and downloading your favorite to be read novels.  Electronic book readers are perfect for air travel and lightening the weight of suitcases.

 

To avoid paying to check a second bag, many travelers mistakenly cram more items into their sole piece of luggage.  BAD MISTAKE!  You will more than likely be assessed an overweight charge that will more than exceed the cost of having checked the second bag!

 

Carry your passport, but place a photocopy of your passport inside the suitcase.

 

Button shirts before packing.  Only fold clothes at the waist and seams to minimize wrinkling.  Place dry cleaner plastic bags around the clothes.

 

Use lightweight canvas or nylon bags.

 

Don’t waste space.  If packing shoes, place socks inside the shoes, as well as corners of the suitcase.

 

If taking more than one suitcase, distribute shirts or blouses, pants or skirts, socks, underwear, and sleepwear evenly between the two, so if one suitcase is lost or delayed, you are not completely clothes-less.

 

Never pack medication, jewelry, valuables, passport, or money.  Pack shaver and toothbrush and paste in carry-on duffel bag.

 

Do not attempt to carry liquids (i.e., perfumes, aftershave lotions, lotions, shampoos, facial cream, gels, deodorants, aerosols, toothpaste) in excess of 3 oz. aboard your flight. 

 

Instead, pack and check perfume, cologne or after-shave in quart-sized sealed baggies.  Triple check that the lids are secure and not leaking!  Security personnel have some mighty expensive French perfume at home

 

SAVVY TRAVEL TIP: When packing for a cruise, leave your travel iron at home - it will be confiscated by your cruise line.  The good news is that you can retrieve it at the conclusion of the cruise.  Travel irons on cruise ships are a no-no. 

Ditto even if you have a concealed weapon permit, you cannot bring a gun onboard a cruise ship.  Leave your weapon at home. 

 

When the next time you’re flying, and your seat-mate remarks that “the airlines are going to the dogs,” you’ll be happy to note this once disparaging comment has metamorphosed into a new positive connotation: Pet Airways flies everyone first class in the regular cabin of a Beech 1900 aircraft, pawsengers, (pooches and cats), that is.  Despite your assertions that you are often in the doghouse, only four-legged creatures are welcome aboard.  The flight is strictly for furry, four-legged passengers only - absolutely no humans, who instead, are relegated to plebian, cattle-car flights.  Can’t you just picture a Chihuahua nestled up next to a 200-pound English bulldog or a St. Bernard?  Do you suppose the chubby and/or slobbering furry ones will be forced to purchase two seats?  Humans have always considered airline cuisine “dog food,” so the meals should be perfectly acceptable.  A little peace and quiet, please!  Suppose a “furry passenger” anticipating the annoying sound of a non-stop crying baby, ever complains of excessive barking and meowing in the cabin?  Pawsengers are confined to specially-designed secure pet carriers based on the size and weight of the pet.  Unlike human air passengers, one size does not fit all.

 

Hate to ask, but where does one go potty?  Pet Airways even has a Pet Stewardess who checks the pawsengers every 15 minutes!  Pet Points are awarded for mileage flown on the airline’s My Paws Club.  This begs the question: who’s piloting the aircraft ? Bulldog Treater or Cats Delighten?

 

Pet Airways (http://www.petairways.com) literally re-defines pampered pets.  Flights currently cover Baltimore/Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York.  Promotional fares begin at $149 one-way.  Service commenced July 14, 2009.  Pet Airways slogan is: “On Pet Airways, your pets aren’t packages, they’re pawsengers." 

 

 Copyright by ToonClipart.com

The “biggie” full fare, a.k.a. standard airlines, are anything but pet friendly.  Think twice before you choose to subject your otherwise pampered pet to their inhumane, less than ideal travel conditions.  Ask yourself, would you be willing to endure sitting in the plane’s cargo hold for the duration of your flight?  If not, and you truly love your pet, why would you subject he or she to this ordeal?  Your pooch is banished to the aircraft’s underbelly cargo hold - freezing temperatures in the winter and hot as blazes in the summer.

 

If you can’t cram your pooch or cat into a tiny container that fits under your seat (with negligible, if any clearance), it’s the cargo hold they go!

 

Southwest Airlines is rated one of the friendlier pet airlines: they charge $75 each way for a carry-on.  Others, however, typically charge $125 - $250 each way , or more, if your pet weighs over 50 pounds.  Doggie or Kitty prison back home looks mighty good in comparison.  At least there are others to share in the loneliness, by engaging in purring and barking sessions!

 

Since we’re on the subject of pets, unless you’re visiting Aunt Harriett’s farm, always make certain that your choice of destination hotels/motels/resorts accept pets.  Does your vacation destination quarantine pets?  Some domestic hotel chains flaunt being pet friendly: Loew’s, Klimpton, Quality Inns, Super 8, Red Roof Inns come to mind.  Inquire whether your pet can reside in the room with you or if it must be kept in Outer Siberia, somewhere remote on premises.  Which pet amenities are offered?  Special food, pet toys, friendly pet waddling spots such as a nearby park, fire hydrant, etc.  Can you keep your pet in the room unattended while you are out visiting or conducting business?  Does the property provide dog-walkers?

 

Unless you are attending a dog show, ask yourself whether both your pet and you would be better off placing he or she in a nice pet lodge while you are off vacationing.