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Two More Airlines Start Charging for the First Checked Bag: Will Free Bags Go Extinct?

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 09/20/2014, 5:30 PM

Sorry, Canada. Your Westjet just decided to start charging standard passengers for the first checked bag. One would think that would give rival Air Canada in an advantageous position with consumers. But no. Almost as if the airlines were not in competition but in league, Air Canada immediately sprang its own $25 fee on customers. Both airlines will start charging feeds to you lowly economy-far...

Pay-As-You-Use Budget Hotels: Growing Worldwide, But Still Foreign to Americans

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 11/13/2013, 6:00 PM

Tune Hotel Asoke, Bangkok A few years ago in Europe, a new breed of budget hotel began to emerge, epitomized by Lindemann's hotels in Berlin. Although it was a generally affordable property, it was also what is often called a "design hotel," meaning its decor and style were crafted by architects and designers to capitalize on a younger, trendier clientele than at the conservative corp...

Valet Padding: Another Trick Hotels Use to Suck More Cash Out of You

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 11/13/2013, 4:30 PM

Fairmont Newport Beach: One of many hotels with mandatory valet Pretty much everyone thinks resort fees are slimy. Yet the consumer uprising against them has merely simmered for years. It hasn't really boiled over to the point where hotels across the board are embarrassed to charge them.  Add to the "resort fee" a rising trend among hotels: the forced valet parking. Even at hotels...

Some Airlines Let You Bring Your Belongings But Not Take Them Back Home: Carry-On Rules are Erratically Enforced

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 06/26/2013, 12:30 PM

I have just returned from an international trip. As you can probably imagine of a travel journalist, I have my packing down to a science. I take my standard amount every time. On my flight going to Europe, I had no issues. My checked luggage was underweight (I also hate fees) and my carry-on baggage fit perfectly under the seat in front of me, just how I like it. But on the way back, the a...

While We're Discussing Fee-Free Cards, Here's One That Charges No ATM Fees

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 06/21/2013, 8:30 AM

Arthur Frommer recently let you know about the United Plus Explorer card, which waives the foreign transaction fee the way the famous Capital One suite of cards does. That card (in which, I stress, Frommer's has no financial interest) is described in his blog post. But that's for a credit card. What about cards linked to savings accounts, which let you draw money you actually have rather t...

While We're Discussing Fee-Free Cards, Here's One That Charges No ATM Fees

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 06/21/2013, 8:30 AM

Arthur Frommer recently let you know about the United Plus Explorer card, which waives the foreign transaction fee the way the famous Capital One suite of cards does. That card (in which, I stress, Frommer's has no financial interest) is described in his blog post. But that's for a credit card. What about cards linked to savings accounts, which let you draw money you actually have rather t...

Confused About Navigating the Airport? One of Them Will Take $80 to Guide You Through It

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 06/21/2013, 8:30 AM

More and more, airlines stand to make a lot more money when airports do their jobs inefficiently. Last month, I told you about how one airline at JFK was raking in fees for instant security-line upgrades when the TSA failed to process passengers quickly. Now, airport management itself is finding a way to cash in. Manchester, England just completed a pilot program charging customers £50, or...

Plan Ahead or Do It On the Spot: The Conundrum of Modern Vacations

By Pauline Frommer

Posted on 06/05/2013, 3:30 PM

United Airlines caused a stir two days ago when it announced that travelers could now “subscribe” to its fees. Pay one lump sum in advance—$349, so that’s one big lump sum actually!—and you’ll be able to carry on your luggage “free” for the next year. Oh, wait, no, that amount was just for one bag checked. If you need to check two bags, the fee goes up to $399.  To guarantee a seat in “economy...

The Airlines Sometimes Profit when the TSA Does its Job Inefficiently

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 05/20/2013, 2:00 PM

On Saturday morning at JFK, the line for passengers to have their I.D.s inspected by the Transportation Security Administration was extraordinarily long, and the lines to go through the actual checkpoints were just as awful. The person checking passengers' tickets at the entrance to the whole mess did not work for the TSA, and he heard person after person exclaim that they were unlikely to mak...

Airlines Make You Miserable to Maximize Profits, And It's Unfair to the Crew

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 05/07/2013, 1:45 AM

On U.S. Airways, boarding announcements are like a comedy sketch. Gone are the days when getting on a plane was a simple matter of passengers who need extra time, then first class, then everyone else. Nowadays, it's a ridiculously confusing, hard-to-hear, multi-tiered hierarchy of status level members, credit card holders, fare class purchasers, and beyond that, umpteen "zones". At U.S. A...

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