Allegiant Air will now demonstrate how not to disclose a resort fee

Few airlines love fees more than Allegiant Air. The carrier literally charges you for anything that isn’t bolted down on the aircraft. But now now you can experience that kind of gratuitous unbundling, courtesy of Allegiant, when you buy a hotel through its site.

Carol Lyon did when she reserved a four-night stay at the MGM Grand Signature recently.

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When I booked, it was solely because the price was very good. I was thrilled when I saw pictures and descriptions of the room. This trip is for my 60th birthday, and is on a very limited budget, so when I was reading on the MGM site and saw that about “resort fees” being $20 per night, I got worried.

A look at the site reveals that the fees are disclosed — or, more specifically, it is disclosed that there may be a fee — at the bottom of the booking screen. However, the “total” price isn’t revealed in the initial quote, leaving customers like Lyon with the mistaken impression that their hotel is cheaper than it really is.

Although Allegiant isn’t responding to my emails, I recently read a misguided defense of resort fees which claims the surcharge is an “investment” in the community, that it’s OK to charge them because other travel suppliers have fees, and that people should really know about them by now, anyway.

Um, right.

(And apparently the “defense” was misunderstood, too. Several readers have pointed out that the article was actually a critique of the fees — whatever.)

Anyway, on with Lyon’s story:

I called the hotel and told them I had booked a package with Alligiant Air and did I have to pay that extra $60 when we got there, and I was told “yes” in no uncertain terms. I emailed Alligiant Air and asked about it not being disclosed and received an email showing the “terms”.

I went back and pretended to book another package and finally came to the agreement, which I had clicked “yes” on, and after reading through it more carefully this time, did see that any hotel could charge this, and that we were responsible for it.

The thing is, you don’t know until after you book if your hotel does or not. The only thing you can do is choose, go out of the site and look it up, and then decided to book or not.

It’s bad enough that airlines like Allegiant are allowed to quote a low base fare and then add on ludicrous surcharges like convenience fees for using your credit card or charges for confirmed seat reservations. But to help a hotel pull the same bait-and-switch? Shameful.

Lyon agrees.

For $20 we get Internet access, two bottles of water a day, “house” coffee to use in our coffee maker in the room, a newspaper, use of the gym, and we can make free local and 800 calls.

Best Western gives you free coffee for the coffee maker, free internet, and free USA Today. I can buy water for $1 a bottle, and who goes to the gym in Vegas, especially at 60?

Next time, don’t book your hotel through Allegiant. And get a room at the Best Western.