Hidden airline fees could disappear in U.S.....Airport Wars!...Harry Potter Ride...
I haven't heard much about this lately, but we should thank the Americans for taking on the airline industry in a way that Stephen Harper would never dream to do.
Writing on her blog at the New York Times, Michelle Higgins the other day reported that a provision was added to a bill in the U.S. Senate that would require airlines and online travel agencies to "clearly disclose all fees associated with the cost of a ticket, including holiday surcharges, baggage fees and seat assignments."
Honesty in advertising? What a concept.
"Too often, trying to decipher your airfare is like a pilot trying to land a jumbo jet in a thunderstorm with no instruments - technically possible, but difficult," Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, said in a statement.
To me, it's like hotels that advertise a certain rate, then don't add in the "mandatory resort fee," another hair-raising add-on that frustrates travellers to no end. I mean, my way of thinking is that if a hotel has a pool, I get to use it. I shouldn't be charged extra for it. Or charged when I don't use it.
I don't like being charged extra for Internet service either. I've written this before, and lots of folks (imagine) disagreed with me, but I think Internet service is as basic a service as a shower or a bed. I don't get charged for those, why should I pay to access the Internet? Even more ridiculous, why should I have to pay extra to use the pool? A spa, sure; that's different. I don't expect a free massage. But don't slap with a general resort fee when I may not even use the pool or the hot tub with all those little kids that seem to fill up every tub I think of climbing into, and, yes, that was me with my family taking up all the space a few years back. (I remember once being in Palm Springs with a free night at a sumptuous Marriott resort, and my three kids were splashing about in the pool surrounded by elegant ladies with gold bathing suits and more liposuction than Joan Rivers. The ladies were NOT amused, and I was pretty much red-faced and wishing we were all at the Holiday Inn).
Anyway, I stayed at a place with a resort fee a few months ago. Lucky, the weather was nice. But what if it had been cold, like it was a lot this winter down south? What if I didn't use the pool and freeze my tush? Maybe hotels should at least offer cold-weather refunds to guests if they insist on hitting with a resort fee.
As for airlines, it's a joke that people have to read the fine print to find about $200 security fees or baggage fees. But will Ottawa do anything about it? Not Harper. His government protects the airline industry as if they were all his good buddies and made important contributions to popular Tory candidates or causes, not that would ever happen
What I want is to see an airline official stand up on camera and say, "We want to gouge you so we fake you out by putting out ads that say a flight costs $500 but actually, suckers, it's $700 ha-ha-ha." Just once.
Good item the other day in USA Today about how San Francisco Airport, which has undergone major changes and is looking very spiffy of late, is doing an advertising/marketing campaign that slags other, unknown airports. I don't know if they're targetting LAX or closer competitors like Oakland or San Jose, but apparently they use some 83-year-old twins from the city, Marion and Vivian Brown, to cheekily show a crummy airport that contrasts with SFO's new terminals. The Youtube video is called "I Wanna Go Through SFO," and also features the mayor, Gavin Newsom (who has abandoned a plan to run for governor). It's not a bad video, but I take issue with some of it because it focuses on airlines.
(If you want to talk up the terminals or the baggage handling, that's fine. But the video shows a guy on an airplane getting hassled for being slow to get off the jet and sitting in coach and looking all frazzled before he arrives at the crummy airport. Then, when he goes to SF, he's in business class and has a smiling flight attendant. Of course he's in a better mood. But crummy airlines with bad flight attendants and crummy snacks fly into SFO, too. It ain't all roses and business class on those commuter flights from Burbank or Newark, folks).
What's better for us in Canada is a couple of Youtube spots for Edmonton airport. In one of the spots, a guy talks about how he used to go through Calgary and now feels "so ashamed." In another, a woman of a certain age says she doesn't want to drag her old bones down Highway 2 anymore so uses Edmonton. "It just tickles my toes," she says.
Quite funny. But not everyone in Calgary appreciates the jab in the ribs..
"They're trying to be tongue-in-cheek," says Calgary International Airport spokesperson Jody Moseley. "Clearly we have the best connections in the world. But we wouldn't develop a campaign to tell people to avoid Edmonton. It's not really our role to tell customers where they should and shouldn't fly."
GREYHOUND ACCESS TO BUFFALO AIRPORT
Greyhound Canada has expanded service from Toronto to the Buffalo International Airport, offering customers six daily trips. The service is being billed as "a convenient and affordable transportation option that provides customers with easy airline connections for travel within the United States."
Officials say fares start at $19 each way with a three-day advance purchase. Student and senior specials also are available. Tickets can be purchased either at www.greyhound.ca or at the nearest Greyhound station.
ATTENTION MUGGLESAssociated Press reports the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open to Muggles for the first time on June 18. The Three Broomsticks Inn, Honeydukes sweets and all the other quirky shops in Hogsmeade village will open then too.
That's when the non-wizarding public will be allowed to step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the much-anticipated new attraction inside Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure park that brings to life the weird and wonderful realm of the famous boy wizard.
BRITISH AIRWAYS STRIKE UPDATE
British Airways today said it will fly more than 75 per cent of customers booked to
travel between tomorrow and March 30, despite these four days being targeted for
strikes by Unite.
Of approximately 240,000 customers originally booked to travel in the strike period, the airline expects to fly more than 180,000.
A further 18 per cent have been rebooked to travel on other carriers, or changed the dates of their British Airways flights to avoid the strike period. Several thousand customers have brought forward their departures to today (Friday), officials said.
JIM'S DEALS OF THE DAY - brought to you by travelalerts.ca
$35 - Toronto to Cozumel, Mexico, last-minute non-stop flight ($312 w/tax)http://www.travelalerts.ca/ccount12/click.php?id=2844
$327 - Toronto to Orlando, 1 week spring holiday with car rental ($584 w/tax)
US$69/nt - 12-night 4* Hawaiian cruise from
Ensenada, Mexico (US$887 w/tax)
Also on the deal front, Qantas has announced a fare sale for flights from the U.S. to New Zealand. Special fares, which must be booked by March 31, are valid on flights to Auckland from JFK in New York, LAX in Los Angeles and SFO in San Francisco. Airfares from JFK start at $878 U.S., plus security charges of up to $195. You'd have to make your way to JFK on Long Island, but it's not that far from the other airports in the New York City area and it's a good fare.
Or you could make your way to California and fly from LAX or SFO to Auckland for $678, plus the security charge of up to $195. Seats are limited, and airfares listed are per-person, round-trip and are valid only from April 19 to June 8 and from July 24 to Sept. 21, 2010. For more information, go to www.qantas.com
Qantas earlier announced a fare sale on flights from the U.S. to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia.