At best, the proposed Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, a bipartisan bill introduced this month in Congress, would open a window into the many taxes and mandatory fees attached to your airline ticket — charges that the airline industry believes you should know about.
At worst, the proposed law would give airlines a license to quote an artificially low ticket price, undoing years of regulatory efforts to require the display of a full fare. And if the bill passes, critics fear that an airline could quote you an initial base ticket price, minus any taxes and government fees, leaving you with the mistaken impression that your total airfare is far cheaper than it is. Read more “Will new bill let airlines hide ticket prices?”
It’s been five short years since the airline industry, led by an ailing American Airlines, quietly stripped the ability to check your first bag at no extra cost from the price of an airline ticket — an act given the antiseptic name “unbundling.”
At about this time in 2008, passengers were beginning to adjust to a new reality, as other airlines eagerly joined in separating their luggage fees from base fares. Now, they’ve finally accepted the fee revolution, according to most experts.
An airline ticket doesn’t have to include a “free” bag or a meal, no more than a hotel room should come with the ability to use the hotel’s exercise facilities, or your rental should cover the cost of a license plate. And that’s the way it should be, they say.
How much does your online travel agency know about your reservation? If you said “too much” then you must still be upset about that whole NSA affair. I can’t blame you. Or, maybe you’re thinking of the legendary screenshots a company like Priceline produces when they’re challenged on a nonrefundable reservation.
I say “legendary” because no one I know has actually seen these images. Until now.
Question: I’d like to share my recent Budget Car Rental experience with you that has me committed to never doing business with them again.
A couple weeks ago I received a voicemail saying the Budget at the Kansas City airport would be charging me an extra $104 because an “internal audit” found they gave me too much of a discount. My receipt shows the $85 discount, which seemed right since there was an advertised discount.
So, they billed my credit card without my authorization, and then added in all the additional taxes and fees to bring the amount up to $104. I called Budget corporate and the franchise, but nobody would help fix the issue, even though I had a receipt to prove we “agreed” on the lesser amount. Read more “Oh no, Budget had second thoughts about my discount”
Question: I recently tried to price-match merchandise at a Target store in Framingham, Mass. I had read the price match policy online, and I was sure I was eligible. But I was denied.
I followed up with the corporate 1-800 number, and was twice given the same
(startling) answer: Target will not price match any printed ad that is not valid for an entire week. They exclude these ads because they are “timed” events, like door-busters and early-bird sales. Read more “Is Target’s price-match guarantee an empty promise?”
When she checked out of her hotel, it revealed the “net” rate it was charging her online travel agency — a number far lower than the one she was quoted. Now she wants the hotel to honor the lower price for her.
I get requests like hers with some regularity, and I normally tell them they’re out of luck. If you bought hotel rooms in large blocks, you might qualify for a low rate, but not as a single traveler. But lately, I’ve had second thoughts about that response, and I’m thinking of mediating one of these cases. Maybe you can help me figure this out. Read more “They showed her the net rate and now she wants it”
If you recall last month’s dust-up about airfare pricing, you’ll know that airlines feel singled out by the federal government, which is now requiring them to advertise fares that include all mandatory taxes and fees.
Here are a few details about that dispute. Never mind that other federally-regulated industries have the same pricing requirements, including anyone buying gas, cigarettes or alcohol. Airlines wanted to see other examples in travel, dammit.