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New travel fees are intended to save you money?

A busy airport is pictured in this undated file photo.
October 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kim Marie Evans is always traveling and says she is shocked by the newest add-on expenses that she discovered on her latest adventure.

"It's not even 'nickel-and-dimed.' It's being 'twenty-dollared' to death. It's for everything," she said.

From a $5 printing fee for boarding passes to a $3 bottle of water to $6.99 for blankets, Evans has seen a variety of charges.

"It seems to be a never ending slippery slope," she said.

Airlines took in more than $22 billion in fees last year. Delta and American each took in more than $2 billion in fees, while United-Continental took in the most fees at more than $5 billion last year.

But it's not just the airlines. Other examples are a nearly a $4 fee for a 30-minute children's TV show in a room at a major hotel chain and a $7.49 daily surcharge some rental car companies are charging for a toll-pass transponder, whether you use the gadget or not.

Travel companies stress they have extra expenses, too, including higher fuel and food costs. Airlines for America, a group representing the airline industry, said it's ust following the lead of other industries that separate fees.

"Baseball parks, we don't go and expect a hot dog and a coke for free. We pay more for better seating," said John Heimlich of Airlines for America.

So, the argument is that unbundling, or breaking down the extras into options you can pick and choose, is actually intended to save you money.

"These are optional services," Heimlich said. "Not everyone has or wants to check a bag. Not everyone wants to buy a meal, rent a DVD, buy a Coca-Cola, so the airlines are under the pressure to offer the lowest fare possible to those who just wanted that."

Evans makes adjustments, like only packing carry-ons, no checked bags. But she hates thinking of what could be next.

"I'm really waiting for there to be a coin slot in the bathroom on the airplane," Evans said.

All of those fees bring up the question: why aren't airfares down more than they are?


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