What are you paying for?

Extra Travel Charges

Over the last while, airline charges have risen while the responsibility to the customer has grown alongside these charges. While this hardly seems fair, let’s take a look at some of the changes to how we fly when it comes to costs and responsibilities.

The airlines and tour companies (cruises, safaris, and so on) have been offloading charges onto clients, and in some cases, travel agencies. When a client booked a cruise, for instance, they used to get a glossy package full of information about the ship, amenities and what to expect during the cruise – however, now the cruise companies will send an email to the agency, and it’s up to the agency to present that material in an aesthetic way to the client. Alternatively, the client will get the email directly and be forced to print it off at home – or find a printer in which to do so if they need a hard copy of their itinerary. Regardless, they will be printing off their boarding pass.

This follows through to the airlines. You now print off your own boarding pass at home, which is several sheets of paper more than necessary. Upon your arrival at the airport you now go through a self-check in procedure, and your baggage tags print out. You’re expected to tag your own baggage and offload it at the appropriate carousel. The idea of the self-sufficient passenger is more prevalent throughout Europe than it is in North America, at least for now.

With all the responsibility on the passenger, you’d think the charges would go down. However, there’s fuel surcharges (a ton), checked baggage charges, extra government taxes (more in Canada than in the U.S.) and yet the flights are still packed! The extra baggage charges have resulted in a lot more people flying with carry-on luggage because they’re not paying fees for each bag they want to check.

I always recommend finding something to eat before you get on the plane or grabbing something to take on the plane – plus water to stay hydrated. The food available on the planes isn’t nourishing or healthy, and many airlines only take credit now – no cash. If you don’t have a credit card, now you’re out of luck when it comes to eating. Alternatively, I’ve been on several 4+ hour flights that don’t even have food for purchase available as an option! That can be a nasty shock if you’re unprepared.

Along this line of additional charges, I’ve also noticed that when you redeem Aeroplan points online, it’s a lot cheaper to fly Lufthansa than it is Air Canada. When redeeming points for example, you pay 60,000 points for your flight and you pay the tax yourself. Air Canada attaches additional fuel surcharges and taxes which can cause the consumer to pay $500+ just in taxes for their flight. I feel as if this is double-dipping.

If you’re prepared and aware, flying can be enjoyable, stress-free and even fun, but if you’re hit with a surprise of extra charges and a lack of food on a long flight, flying quickly loses it’s allure as a form of travel.

– Wendy Fougner