Are We There Yet? – Be aware of fees

Sometimes the price isn't the actual price.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

I've seen it happen time and again (and I've fallen victim to it myself) – you get a great quote on a flight or hotel stay, only when the charge shows up on your credit card, it's more. What gives? It's called fees, and almost every single travel transaction these days have 'em.

In a recent article on CNN, it was disclosed that the online travel company Orbitz was fined $50,000 Monday by the Department of Transportation for failing to properly disclose baggage fees on its website. In announcing the fine, the DOT said it had ordered Orbitz to immediately fix the problem to avoid further fines. The agency alleged that Orbitz failed to "clearly and prominently" inform travelers about potential baggage fees during the airline ticket purchasing process, and in doing so, violated a new rule intended to make airline fees more transparent.

Not only are online travel sites often guilty of this when offering estimates on different modes of transportation and accommodations, but travel agents may fail to immediately alert you to any unforeseen taxes and fees as well. It's important, too, that when obtaining a quote online through an airline website that you read all of the fine print, and I mean all of it, to ensure your final price includes all taxes, handling fees, baggage or transfer fees, and more. That way, you won't blow your travel budget at the end of planning a trip.

Ask questions when getting quotes. It's perfectly understandable to request a breakdown of each and every detail of a quote. And if you're doing everything online, there should be a number you can call where you can speak to an actual human being to clarify everything for you. Nothing will put a damper on a vacation than being zinged with a bunch of extras come payment time.

Just a word of warning, friends.


Bon Voyage,



Jenn Cox is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. Visit her website or email her at