Is there a cure for the upselling epidemic?

Airlines do it by quietly restricting the terms on their tickets. Cruise lines resort to good old-fashioned salesmanship. And the entire travel industry does it better, thanks to sophisticated software.

It’s called the “upsell” — and yes, it’s completely out of control.

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Why airfares are actually rising

If you’re looking for a cheap airfare, there’s good news, according to new research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA): Continued declines in oil prices are leading to lower ticket prices.

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Dreaded fees come to vacation rentals

Rhonda Moret’s vacation rental in Park City, Utah, came with a few surprises.

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Why are airlines redefining national borders?

Is Aruba part of the United States? I’m not the one asking. Hank Roden, a fine art photographer from Urbanna, Va., is, and it’s more of a rhetorical question.
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Traveling with pets may cost you more than you think

Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Mihejevs/Shutterstock
A carry-on bag is included in Lana Joseph’s ticket price whenever she flies from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on United Airlines. But if that carry-on includes Molly, her six-pound Yorkshire terrier, Joseph has to cough up an additional $250 round-trip.

“That’s way too much for a bag that goes under the seat,” says Joseph, a retired hairstylist from Akron, Ohio, who spends her winters in South Florida. “I can see a small charge, but not an exorbitant fee.”

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of pet travel — a world that some say shouldn’t even exist. Americans spent an estimated $55.7 billion on pets last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, most of it on food and veterinary care. But an unknown portion of that amount also paid for plane tickets and accommodations for man’s best friends.
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You deserve a refund for those junk fees

Diego Cervo/Shutterstock
Diego Cervo/Shutterstock
What if they had to give it all back?

Imagine if someone forced airlines, hotels and car rental companies to return every penny they took from you under questionable circumstances. The checked-bag fee, often poorly disclosed. The resort fee billed to your room, whether you used the “free” wireless and unlimited local phone calls or not. The license recovery fees that pay for your rental car’s plates — as if that were optional.

These extras, which most travelers call junk fees, aren’t just expensive annoyances. Vast sectors of the travel industry have made them a cornerstone of their business operations, with airlines leading the way down this ethically troublesome path.

It’s a practice the industry delicately calls “unbundling,” or removing often essential components of a product from the base price to make it look deceptively cheaper.
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Airline fees are out of control — but who can stop them?

Portocalis/Shutterstock
Portocalis/Shutterstock
No two ways about it: The travel industry loves fees. Airlines in particular.

A few days ago, Canada’s Porter Airlines slapped a new $25 checked-baggage fee on all flights between the USA and Canada. The carrier, which promises to bring “dignity and refinement back to flying,” said it needed the extra money to stay “competitive.” And of course the US Department of Justice cited the rise of airline fees as a reason it sued to block the planned merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

Porter has a long way to go before its passengers storm away from the ticket counter in disgust. Other travel companies are light years ahead of the airline, whether it’s hotels that charge mandatory “resort” fees on top of their room rates, airlines that make you pay for your carry-on bag or car rental companies that add nuisance “tire disposal” fees to your bill.
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Passengers brace for another summer of airline fees

Photo courtesy Frontier Airlines.
Photo courtesy Frontier Airlines.

It isn’t shaping up to be a good summer for air travelers who are trying to stick to a budget. And let’s be honest: Who isn’t watching their bottom line?

A few weeks before the traditional start of the busy travel season, United Airlines quietly raised its change fees on most discount fares from $150 to $200, rendering many of its tickets all but unchangeable.

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways quickly followed.

Not to be outdone, Frontier Airlines announced that for tickets booked anywhere except on its Web site, it would raise its luggage charges and impose a fee of up to $100 for certain carry-on bags, the third U.S. carrier to do this. Most economy-class passengers will also have to pay $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice.
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Airline seat fees separate mom from five-year-old twins

Ever since airlines added new economy-class seat reservation fees, they’ve insisted that the new charges would not lead to families with young kids being separated.

And I believed it — until I heard from Vicki Wallace.

Wallace was flying from Philadelphia to San Diego on US Airways recently, when the fees led to her being separated from her five-year-old twins, she says.
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