How to Avoid Summer Travel Fees

The summer months are peak travel times, so beware of extra fees and incidentals.

From baggage fees and extra leg room, to late check-out fees and expensive water, ancillary fees from airlines and hotels are an ever-present threat to the frugal traveler.

Here are some useful travel tips on how to avoid hidden charges and get the most for your travel dollars, courtesy of Christopher Elliott and USA Today.

Asterisks and airline fees – Remember when you could buy an airline ticket and you actually got a ticket? Today, that purchase is just a starting point—optional seat “assignments” are a big source of airline revenue. A recent study by liligo.com suggested that more than 38 percent of airlines’ total revenue can be attributed to “extra fees.” If you see a very low airfare advertised, chances are, there’s something the airline isn’t clearly communicating, such as high fees you’ll have to pay to get a seat assignment.

Travel companies like to advertise prices “from $99” or slide in an asterisk next to the rate, indicating that there’s important information they’re omitting. If you see fine print, read it, and don’t buy anything until you understand the true cost.

Overseas mobile data and roaming fees – In many cases, paying high fees for data or cellular connections when you’re overseas is a rip-off, say many industry insiders. Unless you absolutely have to be online at all times—and few of us do—try and wait for free Wi-Fi. Several major carriers include international mobile data in their plans—ask if yours has one or if they offer special rates.

Traveler-specific credit card fees – If you have a favorite credit card to use when traveling, make sure the company isn’t charging you extra when you’re on the road, such as a foreign-currency fee and ATM fees. To avoid paying them, contact your credit card company before your trip. A credit card company will often waive certain fees or can advise you which ATMs to use to avoid paying a surcharge.

Unnecessary hotel resort fees – If you plan on staying at a high-end hotel, be aware that many charge mandatory “resort” fees for amenities you may or may not use, such as spa and fitness center. These can add $20 or more per day to the room rate you thought you were going to pay, even if you have no intention of using them.

Never make assumptions that something is complimentary: read the fine print of each hotel or airline before you travel, and be careful to double check what boxes you check when booking online. Good news: the federal government might soon act to make these egregious “resort” fees illegal.

Wireless Internet fees – Another expense to be aware of at high-end hotels is charging extra for Wi-Fi. An Internet connection should be considered a basic utility, and most consumers resent having to pay extra for it.

When booking a hotel, make free wireless Internet a criterion for staying there. If not, another option is to use your cellphone as a mobile hotspot to supply Wi-Fi to your laptop rather than agreeing to pay another fee. But as mentioned above, be sure your carrier isn’t charging you extra for data and roaming fees.

More money-saving travel advice:

Check the reviews. Performing a simple web search for the hotel or cruise line you’re considering, along with the word “scam” or “fee” should reveal all you need to know. Be sure to cast a wide net and don’t just rely on a single source.

Pack carry-on only. An increasingly popular travel option is to pack carry-on only, if possible. Not only will you save on baggage fees, you’ll exit your destination airport a lot faster.

Don’t be afraid to haggle. According to many travel experts, consumers can haggle almost anything, especially in person at a hotel. Depending on how much effort you’re willing to expend, you could get a fee dropped or even an upgrade.

Use helpful travel apps.  We live in a digital, mobile world, and it often pays to download helpful travel apps to book online, find free Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, and sometimes be eligible for special online- or app-only discounts.

When it comes to ancillary fees, most travelers know they exist, but not to the extent in which the travel industry has built a business model around them. To avoid falling prey to extra fees, travelers have to be ever vigilant, especially when booking their flight or hotel.

Source: USA Today

TSA Advice on Getting Through Airports Faster

Securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains our top priority,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia in a recent news release. Summer travelers can expect an increased security presence at airports nationwide, with 50 additional passenger canine teams in use compared to last summer, and 2,000 more TSA officers working this summer compared to a year ago.

With more people and security at the airports, here’s some advice from the TSA on how to move through airports as quickly and conveniently as possible, courtesy of Odenton Patch.

Arrive early to the airport. To help speed the security screening process, travelers should get to the airport early, authorities say, preferably two hours ahead of a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. You want to build in extra time for traffic, to park or return rental cars, check bags, get a boarding pass and visit the restroom—all before heading to the security checkpoint.

Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams, and aerosols into checked bags—think shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream, and antiperspirant. If you only have a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1- 1 rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart-size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula.

Know security line etiquette. The key to moving through the security checkpoint line quickly and easily is being prepared and knowing what’s expected of you. Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items that are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them.

Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off as you go through security screening. Empty your pockets before heading through the checkpoint screening equipment. Another time saver is to make sure you don’t have any prohibited items, such as various knives in your carry-on bags.

According to the TSA, prohibited items detected at a checkpoint will slow a checkpoint line, as they’ll require bag-checks, tests for traces of explosives and finally, rescreening through the X-ray equipment.

When you enter the checkpoint line have an acceptable ID and boarding pass ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the screening tables, remove large electronics including laptops and your 3-1- 1 liquids bag from your carry-on baggage.

Apply for TSA Pre PreCheck allows for an expedited airport security experience. With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports. For more information about TSA Pre, visit the frequently asked questions page on TSA.gov.

Source: Odenton Patch