Beware the latest hidden travel costs

2 December 2022
Beware the latest hidden travel costs

Inflation is the number one reason travelers are staying closer to home this year. Those willing to brave travel face many new and well-hidden fees for everything from towels and pillows to boarding pass printing. 

Last week, we wrote about why you should not use your phone to book travel (hello drip pricing!). That’s not the hottest travel scam out there, though. 

The hottest scam these days is hidden right in plain sight: hidden fees. They’ve gotten so bad that the US government is outlining legislation to take control of the problem. Here’s what you need to know right now about hidden travel costs.

Hidden airline fees

Airline tickets are often the most expensive aspect of a trip. If that’s not bad enough, the airlines seem to be playing a continual game of fee-hide-and-seek. 

Here are some of the more outrageous fees that some airlines have implemented:

  • New carry-on weight limits
  • Fees to sit next to your own child
  • Charges to rebook travel when the flight was canceled by the airline

US airlines collected $3.2 billion in luggage fees in just the first six months this year. When airlines and their advocates talk about fees, they refer to baggage belts as “delivering cash” into their pockets. No kidding, here’s the report; it calls fees for carry-on luggage the next big money maker for airlines.

Hotel billing errors and charges

Wherever you stay, read the bill sent to your email carefully before you check out. Hotel billing errors are far more common than travelers think, and they’re nearly always in the hotel’s favor, not yours.

Sometimes you’ll see surprise charges on your hotel bill that’s not an error but a hidden fee. Like the airlines, hotels are looking for ways to make up losses during the pandemic. Here are some of the latest fees hotels may add to your bill:

  • Charges for beach or pool towels 
  • In-room water bottles and snacks (even though they appear complementary)
  • Fees to use the in-room phone
  • Costs to use the on-site exercise equipment (even though it’s an advertised amenity)
  • Cardkey replacement charges

Pro tip: It’s far easier to correct the bill with hotel desk staff before you leave than waiting on hold to talk with customer service.

Surprise car rental fees

Not to be left behind by airlines and hotels, car rental and ridesharing companies have found a new source of revenue: cleaning fees

Car rental companies have a valid case for charging customers who trash their vehicles. In lots of cases, however, it appears they’re adding fees and hoping consumers don’t notice.

Warning: Budget appears to be leading the pack on unethical cleaning fees. In one case, charging passengers for cleaning dog hair, and they didn’t have a dog!

Pro tip: Always, always film the interior and exterior of your rental vehicle before you leave the lot and when you return it!

These are just a few of the latest hidden travel costs you may be surprised to see on your credit card bill. The Professional Hobo has advice on how to avoid 46 hidden travel costs.

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Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.