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Don’t Blow Your Travel Budget: 10 Surprising Travel Fees


Toronto's Highway 407 is notorious for its high tolls—#5 on the list of unanticipated travel fees (Photo: BigA888)

A recent study traced the hardest-to-anticipate and most unexpected fees that hotels, airlines and car rental agencies add to their customers’ bills.

The focus of the study, conducted by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation, was business travellers. (It seems companies who are footing the bill for an employee are none too pleased when the final bill surpasses estimates.) But these fees can hit the average leisure traveller where it hurts, too.

The wide-ranging study, published in GBTA’s 2012 Ancillary Fee Handbook: Who Charges What, When & Where, included nearly every type of surplus fee that hotels, airlines and car rental agencies charge.

The fees that ranked as most “troublesome” were those that are least predictable, must be paid at point-of-service and are hard to isolate from other fees.

Here are the top 10 fees to watch for when you’re budgeting for your next vacation:

  1. in-flight soft drinks
  2. headset use on airlines
  3. movie and video fees on airlines
  4. in-flight food
  5. car-rental toll fees
  6. hotel fees for Internet use
  7. hotel fees for parking
  8. late-return car rental fees
  9. one-way car rental drop-off fee
  10. car-rental fuel charges

Always be on the lookout for fees that don’t fall in the top 10, too. A business traveller staying at a W Hotel in New York told USA Today that room service tried to charge him for extra drinking glasses—at $1.50 apiece. Now that’s surprising.

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