Airlines receive substantial criticism for their ever-increasing fees. While complaints about surprise fees associated with air travel are warranted and deserving of productive conversation, similarly unsuspected hotel fees are often overlooked. A recent New York Times piece highlighted the problem and stated that hotels in the United States are on track to earn $2.1 billion this year in fees and surcharges alone.
Some of the most outrageous hotel fees that are being reported:
Charges for donations to local charities (without receiving consent) are being added to bills. This actually happened to me while in Grenada.
Bellhop service charges, even when bellhop services aren’t used.
Charges for using the business center, fitness center or other areas of the hotel.
Some hotels now charge extra for a new set of clean towels or sheets.
Some hotels add fees for using the in-room coffeemaker.
Sometimes guests are charged for the in-room safe, even if they don’t use it.
Package delivery fees are applied for receiving mail and other items to your room in some hotels.
Bills at some hotels now include an “energy surcharge.”
Paying to use the internet often comes with a fee, and sometimes it’s ridiculously steep.
The American Airlines merger with US Airways is under fire. The reason is simple: a merger between these two airlines would create the largest airline in the world — an airline that would have the potential to monopolize the air travel industry. The Justice Department, as well as several states, have filed a joint lawsuit in order to halt the merger. According to USA Today, the Justice Department noted that a merger between these two airlines would give the merged airline control over a whopping 69% of departure and arrival slots at Washington Reagan National Airport — that would be six times more control over the air activity of that airport than the closest competitor.
While other airline mergers have been successfully executed (United/Continental, Southwest/AirTran, Delta/Northwest), it seems as though the root of the problem with this particular merger is that it would be too big, perhaps too big to fail. It should be noted, however, that a USA Today article from December 2012 reported that despite gloomy speculations, none of the previous airline mergers raised fares as predicted.
Gone are the days when travelers have to pack bulky items. Now they can just borrow instead.
NeighborGoods is changing the face of consumption, facilitating a borrowing and lending culture within neighborhoods. This is great for people who want to meet their neighbors and spend less, but it’s also great for travelers who want to meet locals and borrow items they didn’t want to bring along for the trip. I spoke with the founder/CEO of the site, Micki Krimmel, via email about the potential the site holds for travelers.
“One of my favorite personal experiences using NeighborGoods was when I was traveling. I was in Austin, TX for the South by Southwest festival and I borrowed a bike from a local. I searched the Austin area and set it up before I arrived. It saved me hundreds of dollars in transportation costs and helped me experience the city like a local. Another great example of this is a new mother who was traveling alone to LA to visit family for a week. She didn’t want to haul her baby stroller on the plane by herself so she found someone in LA willing to lend her one for the duration of her stay.”
Krimmel went on to discuss another benefit travelers might find in using NeighborGoods:
“Travelers who prefer to pack lightly will find that NeighborGoods is a great resource to borrow bulky items that don’t travel well like baby strollers or sporting equipment. Borrowing a bike or a surfboard from a local also helps travelers avoid tourist traps and experience their destination more like a local.”
If you’re a frequent traveler as well as an animal-lover, there are two scenarios that likely describe you: petless and sad about it, or pet-owner, but usually forced to leave it at home or board it. Neither is a happy option, but the always-innovative Aspen Animal Shelter has a furry, feel-good Band-Aid for you.
The for-profit, no-kill shelter offers a Rent-a-Pet program that allows visitors to borrow dogs from two hours to an entire weekend. Explains Director Seth Sachson, “Our motto is ‘Exercise your heart. Walk a dog or cuddle a cat.’ It’s meaningful for a shelter to have this type of program, because these are adoptable animals, and visitors and volunteers are helping the dogs get exercise and develop socialization skills.”
Rent-a-Pet, which is also open to residents, pairs pet-friendly people with dogs (or cats) to ensure a good fit. If your desire is to spend a full day out on the trails, you’ll get an athletic animal that’s up to the task. Casual strolls may find you with a more mellow mutt. And, bonus: like most ski towns, Aspen is incredibly dog-friendly, so you’ll find that many hotels (including the toniest of properties) welcome pets.
It has happened yet again: a mother breastfeeding on a plane was allegedly treated poorly by an airline staff member. The mother was breastfeeding on an American Airlines flight last month while sitting in a window seat next to her husband. Since American Airlines has publicly stated that breastfeeding is allowed on their flights during all stages of flight and that flight attendants should not place restrictions or requirements on breastfeeding mothers, the mother felt free to breastfeed. However, a disgruntled flight attendant requested that she cover up, citing that there were kids present on the plane at the time.
The couple refused and the flight attendant later returned to their aisle, telling a girl seated in the aisle next to the husband that her seat was going to be changed, projecting that the girl was uncomfortable despite the fact that the girl hadn’t complained about the breastfeeding. According to the couple, the flight attendant did not offer service to the couple for the remainder of the flight.
American Airlines responded to the complaint filed by the mother in a letter that was posted to Facebook by a friend of the mother. American Airlines stated in the letter that they believe it is reasonable to request that a mother cover up and that breastfeeding be conducted with modesty and discretion, despite the fact that the manual states that mothers should be able to breastfeed without restriction or requirement and the fact that 45 states allow mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location.
United Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and others have stated that breastfeeding is not prohibited while on the plane. Whether a breastfeeding mother should be required to cover up, however, seems more ambiguous. What are your thoughts on requiring or requesting that breastfeeding mothers cover up?