If you could see inside the mind of a travel operator, you would see they are trying to increase their profit without increasing their posted fare. That's why you’re seeing an increase in hidden ‘discretionary’ surcharges and fees.
CLICK HERE to see me on CTV discussing how to avoid common travel surcharges. This was a special interview for me as I am a big fan of CFL star Quarterback Henry Burris who interviewed me. Read on after you watch it as I do not have time to cover all the details on live TV.
COMMON TRAVEL SURCHARGES
Checked Bag Fees: Airlines are raking in record profits, largely on the back of surcharges. Last year, checked-bag fees alone generated upwards of 3.5 billion dollars which generally apply to economy class flights. If you have elite status with the airline you are flying with, you may get a free pass to check your luggage at no charge even when flying economy.
Short of the above options, luggage allowances are generally restricted to one complimentary carry-on bag. But there is a clever way you can double up on your carry on luggage at no-charge. If you bring a second carry on bag is one like a Jaktogo luggage jacket, you carry can it through the airport just as any other carry-on bag. When the time comes to board the plane, the bag unfolds into a jacket can you wear as you board the plane. Once embarked, remove the jacket and fold it back into a bag. Presto!
If wearing a luggage jacket isn’t for you, all major airlines are affiliated with credits cards that offer travel benefits when you pay for your flight using the partner credit card. For a list of credit cards that offer a free checked-bag benefit. To find the best one for you, click here and scroll down to 'Credit Card Travel Benefits'.
If all else fails, prioritize one of the few remaining airlines that does not charge checked-bag fees. This list breaks down luggage allowances and checked-bag policies by airline.
Hotel Internet Charges: Isn't it ironic the most expensive hotels are also the ones that charge the highest internet fees? My rule of thumb is to prioritize hotels that include free Wi-Fi and continental breakfasts in the base rate. These are generally hotels 3-star hotels like the Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Plus.
Increasingly hotels are dangling free Wi-Fi as an incentive for you to sign up to their loyalty program. For example, you will get free Wi-Fi as a perk for being a loyalty program member with either Marriott, Hyatt, the Ritz Carleton, Hilton Double Tree and Homewood Suites. It’s always free to sign-up to loyalty programs, and since it only takes a few minutes to do, there is no reason to ever pay internet fees in these hotels. Consumer Reports compiled a list of Wi-Fi policies by hotel chain which you can view by clicking here.
Avoid Expensive Taxis: Anytime you think you’ll need to hail a cab at your destination, before leaving on your trip, visit the website of your destination airport and it will have a page will all your transportation options from the airport including:
- Many airports are directly linked to subways, trains and public transit.
- Shuttle buses which may include free hotel shuttles and city wide shuttles that stop at all the major hotels.
- Uber is often an inexpensive alternative to taxis. Only Uber does not operate in all cities, and even where it does, Uber is not allowed to pick up passengers at a number of airports. You should also be aware that Uber surges it's pricing when demand is high.
- Average taxi fares from the airport to various parts of the city.
No More Roaming Charges: The best roaming plans often are not the ones you see on TV. For example, lefrenchmobile.com offers visitors to Europe roaming plans comparable to what locals pay. They send you a SIM card with a permanent number you can use every time you visit Europe. You can data only roaming plans starting at $3/day in the U.S. and $5/day in Mexico with roammobility.com. To get setup, Roam Mobility mails you a SIM card ($10 fee) with a number that’s yours to keep. To activate your plan, visit their website prior to your trip and enter your arrival and departure date and time.
For Americans traveling abroad, T-Mobile’s ‘Simple Choice Plan’ is hands-down the best roaming plan for travelers. For more information, Click Here for my article ‘Stay Connected Abroad – Without the Roaming Fees.’
Credit Card Travel Benefits: Since all travel is booked online, you have to have a credit card. I recommend traveling with two credit cards where you keep one on your person and one in your luggage. This way, if you lose one of them, you won’t find yourself in a panic.
Nearly every major travel operator is affiliated with a credit card that offers great travel perks. For a list of credit cards that waive common travel surcharges such as the ones below, Click Here and scroll to ‘CREDIT CARD SIGN-UP BONUSES’:
- Complimentary checked-bag
- Waived foreign transaction fees which average 1-3% of purchases made abroad
- Pay for taxies with points
- Free access to airport lounge
Finally... remember to pack snacks and headphones so that you don’t have to overpay for them on your flight.
CLICK HERE to see me discuss ways to avoid common travel surcharges with star CFL quarterback Henry Burris on CTV.
Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post and Around the World Travel TV. He is also the author of amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.
FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com