Bennett is the former Senior Producer of the Travel Channels
west coast operations and is currently a travel writer for Savoy
and Black Enterprise Magazine. Michael is the host of Globetrotting
on BET's BET on Jazz Network. For travel question write to Michaelbman2002@netzero.com
| MORE HIDDEN CHARGES
The November book is finally over and now you can concentrate
on your holiday travel plans. If youre flying this holiday
season hopefully youve made your reservations by now.
If not youll be subjected to the airline Gods and their
thirst for money and thats if you can get a flight at
Making airline reservations at the last minute is hazardous
to your wallet regardless of the time of year. But this holiday
travel season might just be the worst on record. Seating capacity
is down nine to 15 percent from last year depending on whom
you ask. Remember, last year we were recovering from 9/11 and
seating capacity was already down 20 percent or more from the
previous year. Translation; crowded flights and higher ticket
Making matters worse is a weak economy and an airline industry
hemorrhaging in red ink. To ensure their survival the airlines
are tacking on new fees and enforcing old rules that might take
a big bite out of your pocketbook. Here are a few of the more
significant charges you should be on the lookout for.
* Passengers with nonrefundable tickets who need to change their
plans must notify the airline in advance and pay a $100 fee.
* Starting in January flying standby or space available will
cost you $100 on most carriers.
* The fees for paper tickets went from $10 last year to as much
as $25 this year.
* If you over-pack you should expect to pay and pay dearly.
Most carriers allow a single passenger two checked bags and
one carry-on. Violate that rule and expect to pay anywhere from
$40 to $100.
* If your bag is too big or too heavy, $100. If its both
to big and too heavy you could be hit for $300.
* Want to send the kids alone, the charge for unaccompanied
minors can range anywhere from $40 to $60 one-way.
* Cant leave home without Fluffy or Fido. Pet transportation
cost $75 to $80 each way.
The fees listed above are the ones the airlines can actually
control. Taxes, security costs and transportation charges are
imposed by the government add to the price of your ticket. These
fees can never be waived.
Most people pay discounted or bargain prices for their tickets.
Purchasing this way saves money. But when it comes to waiving
the extra fees listed above forget about it. The airlines have
a pecking order with first class, business class, customers
who pay full price and frequent flyers getting all the perks.
The airlines wont risk losing a good customer and will
waive many of the excess charges. If youre a bargain shopper
and paid a discounted price for your ticket then avoid the fees
by following the rules to the letter.
I realize flying during the holidays can test your patience.
A crowded airport along with cranky passengers and flight attendants
isnt my idea of fun. Make sure you direct your anger at
someone other than the clerk at the reservations desk when you
check-in. These people hold more power than you think and can
actually waive some of those fees just by being nice to them.
A smile or a friendly greeting just might work even for those
who purchased a discounted ticket.
To avoid extra baggage charges try shipping those gifts in advance.
The fees you pay to Fed-Ex or UPS will be a lot cheaper than
those tacked on by the airline.
And finally, I cant say this enough get to the airport
early. Most carriers are starting to get up to speed with the
new federal security requirements. If you dont give yourself
two or three hours at the airport, you might find yourself paying
some of those extra fees to find a new flight.