Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SeaWorld Orlando raise ticket prices

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando have announced price increases at the Florida theme parks.

The new ticket price at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is $83.45, including sales tax. You will pay $72.75 for kids ages 3-9.

At SeaWorld Orlando, tickets are now $85.19 with tax included, $74.54 for kids.

By comparison, a 1-day, 1-park ticket including tax at Walt Disney World is $87.33. Disney’s most recent price increase was in August.

Those prices don’t take into account the myriad of discounts available, including savings on multi-day tickets, combo tickets that include admission to other theme parks and/or water parks, and online-only deals.

And Florida residents are also eligible for special pricing. For example, a Florida resident who pays full price for a 1-day admission receives a “Fun Card” that gets him or her in free for the rest of the year.

As the Miami Herald reports, only 1/3 of theme park patrons actually pay full price for a 1-day admission into the parks.

[Image credit: Flickr user LaurenKates]

Travel resources start exposing airline fees

We’ve covered sneaky airlines fees in the past, and as airlines learn the tricks to adding more and more fees to your trip, some online resources are starting to fight back.

In the past, your ticket would consist of a base price, with some airport taxes, and a 9/11 security fee. Then airlines started whining about rising gas prices, so they added fuel surcharges. Then when gas prices went down again, they conveniently forgot to remove the fuel surcharge.

What we are left with nowadays is ticket prices where up to 65% of the fare is actually for fees, taxes, surcharges and other additional stuff.

The worst part of all these fees is that it is often impossible to get a clear picture what you are paying for. Your e-ticket will usually only show some cryptic codes, and most third party booking sites don’t let you view a price breakdown at all.

Then, to make matters worse, some airlines have started adding fees for things that used to be free – checked baggage, snacks, drinks and even preferred seating.

The tide is turning though – and several online services are helping you battle fee creep. The first of these services is FlyingFees.com, where you can find the add-on fees for most major US airlines, and several foreign carriers.

The site is pretty smart, and even lets you find the cheapest carrier sorted by additional fees. In addition to the basic fees, you’ll also find an overview of virtually every other fee airlines have come up with, including “telephone booking fees”, “ticket change fees” and even the price of a snack or headset once on board. It isn’t the prettiest site, but it is an extremely comprehensive resource.

The next new resource is TripAdvisor – they have been around for several years, but recently added airline price searches. In addition to showing the cheapest airline, they also claim to be the first to show exactly what your flight will cost, but I did not really find any fee information I couldn’t find on any of the other booking resources.

Bottom line is to do your homework before booking your ticket. It makes no sense to save $50 on your ticket, only to be charged $100 for checking a couple of bags.

Galley Gossip: The problem with “soaring” ticket prices

Remember what airline tickets used to cost? Oh no, I’m not talking about last year, go back a little bit further, okay a lot further, like 1950 further…remember those prices? I didn’t think so.

A couple years ago I went just a wee bit crazy, spending too much time (and money) on eBay bidding on airline ads from the 1960’s and 1970’s. They were big and bright and colorful and they said things like: “fly me,” “just a working girl working,” “think of her as your mother.” They were sexy and sexist, totally wrong, and yet so right — at the time. I loved them. Still do. Had them framed. Hung them on the wall. And then, last year, tucked them away in a drawer for safe keeping (and a clutter free office). I think of one of those ads often whenever I hear people complaining about the price of airline tickets, or whenever I read articles like the one by Dan Reed in USA TODAY entitled “Airline Tickets Soar This Summer” that was featured on AOL with the caption, “Passengers Can’t Bear to Look.”

Well I’ve got something for those passengers to look at, something that may force them to rethink the definition of soaring ticket prices. I mean, soaring? Don’t you think we’re being a bit dramatic here? Especially when people are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on fast food, botox, designer clothes, and even video games for the kids. Give me a break. Because the ad, the one I mentioned above from 1950, lists the price of a ticket from New York to Paris for $326. Please, can anyone tell me, what else out there costs the exact same price as it did over fifty years ago?


Yeah, I know, service in the air has gone down hill big time. You don’t have to tell me. I live it every time I put on my uniform. In fact, I spend most of my time at work apologizing because we don’t have this and we don’t have that to a flight full of miserably cramped passengers. I feel for those passengers. I really do. It’s gotten bad out there. Worse than bad. Flying, today, is just not what it used to be, for everyone involved – passengers and crew alike.

But what gets me is that thirteen years ago I worked at a no frills airline called Sunjet International Airlines. The ticket price back then was $99 to fly one way from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale, Newark, or Long Beach. That was thirteen years ago. Fuel prices were 1/3 of what they are today. Keep in mind that price was on an airline that offered pretty much nothing but a seat (a broken seat covered in duct tape), a lot of delays (I’m not talking a few hours delayed, I’m talking two-day delays), lost luggage (or no luggage at all. What do you mean you checked bags?), and a burnt chocolate chip cookie, depending on who happened to be in the galley that day. Then, in 1995, I found myself working for a major US carrier, on probation for six months without flight privileges, in the month of December. The price of a ticket from New York to Dallas was oh just $800. In Coach. Needless to say, I didn’t get make it home for Christmas that year.

Now flash forward thirteen years and you can fly nonstop on a major carrier from New York to Los Angeles for as little as $235 round trip. I’m sorry, but that’s not bad. In fact, it’s so not bad that I just bought myself a seat on that same flight (even though I’m able to fly standby for free) I challenge anyone to drive that same distance for less money. Yes, airline ticket prices are up 200% from last year, but when you realize they were down 700%, that’s still a good ticket price! So when someone writes a piece about the “soaring” ticket prices of today, I have to shake my head and think, how soon we all forget.