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Around this time of the year, people throw around the word “bundle” a lot. (“It’s nippy, bundle up to the point you can’t put your arms down!”) As the holiday season winds down, some companies are putting together “gift baskets” for customers. Some corporations have begun combining services in the name of costs-savings, and the travel industry is no exception. American Airlines is launching a new program to “bundle” some of its fees intended to save customers, well, bundles.
The airline’s program offers two options – Choice Essential and Choice Plus – but both allow customers to book ancillary fees as a package. There are a few catches, however: the packages are only eligible for flights within the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii. Not to mention, depending on whether or not you expect to make a last-minute flight change, the savings may not be as much as it seems. Though designed as a cost-saving measure, the initiative mostly benefits travelers who anticipate that their itineraries will shift.
There are plenty of things to complain about when it comes to hotels. Uncomfortable beds, the lack of convenient outlets, and dirty sheets are just some of the gripes shared by travelers. But nothing angers hotel guests more than fees, especially for services that they feel should be included in the room rates. Fees for Internet access and use of fitness centers consistently anger travelers, and a new survey shows that the problem is only getting worse. More hotels in the United States are charging for Wi-Fi and gym access, leaving guests to wonder why their calls for change are going unanswered.
Last June, the U.S. Department of Transportation heard air travelers’ frustrated voices when it passed the “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections II” policy, which regulated compensation for involuntarily bumped passengers and outlawed price increases after a customer purchased a ticket. This spring, lawmakers are on our side again. Yesterday the DOT announced amendments to the June 2010 policies that address a host of flyer complaints, including clear disclosure of all necessary fees, increased payments for travelers kicked off packed planes, limits on tarmac delays, and adequate notification when flights are held up. Even better: The new regulations take effect in August. Here’s what to watch for this summer.
Talks of federally legislated baggage requirements are swirling once again, this time in light of a U.S. Travel Association report released today that recommends the Transportation Security Administration rethink its screening tactics and require airlines to allot each passenger one free piece of checked luggage.
The USTA commissioned the study a year ago, and assigned security and transportation bigwigs Tom Ridge (former secretary of homeland security) and Jim Turner (a former Texas congressman who sat on the House Homeland Security Committee) to the accompanying panel.
The conclusion: The TSA’s current security system, which treats each and every passenger as a potential threat, is ineffective and unnecessarily complicated. Adding to the chaos at screening stations, the study says, is the mountain of carry-on items that most passengers now schlep onto flights in order to save about $25 each way.
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