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Candice Choi

Booking a flight and a hotel doesn’t always mean your travel costs are covered

By Candice Choi
Associated Press / April 16, 2010

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Once you book a plane ticket and hotel room, it’s natural to think your costs are covered. Yet a hodgepodge of new and unexpected fees means your trip can end up costing far more than expected. With airlines, for example, fees can outweigh the price of a ticket. And the attractive rates for hotels and rental cars on travel websites probably don’t reflect the surcharges and extras. Here’s what to watch for:

Plane tickets
Spirit Airlines last week said it will charge as much as $45 each way for a carry-on bag. The practice isn’t catching on, but it shows complimentary services on airlines are becoming relics.

Many carriers charge around $25 for the first checked bag, and $30 for a second. Be sure you know the size and weight requirements too, or you may end up paying an additional $50 or so per bag.

In the air, typically all that’s free are soda, juice, and coffee. Complimentary meals have all but vanished on domestic flights, and many airlines charge for snacks, as well. On United and US Airways, snacks range from $3 to $7.

Alcohol, headsets, and Internet access generally come with price tags, too. On JetBlue, it’s $7 for a blanket and pillow.

The good news is that most of these fees can be avoided with careful planning.

And you may be able to get some fees waived or reduced if you have a frequent flier account or a rewards card.

Rental cars
Advertised rates don’t include taxes, fees, insurance, and other extras.

If you have toddlers, for example, it’s $12 to rent a child safety seat. GPS costs $13.95 a day, and electronic toll collection is $1.50 a day. Insurance can be another $50 or so a day, though you may already be covered by your car or homeowners insurance. Some credit cards provide coverage, too.

Hotels
Occupancy taxes vary greatly. In San Francisco, it’s 14 percent. There’s a tourism industry assessment of about 1 percent for hotels in some popular downtown areas, too. Taxes and fees are partly why you often pay more than you expected with online travel sites. Bids you submit with the name-your-own-price option generally don’t include taxes or service fees.

Ask about Internet and gym fees; they could easily add $100 or more to your bill.

Money
Chances are you’ll use an out-of-network ATM. Both your bank and the ATM owner will probably ding you for a combined average fee of $3.54, according to Bankrate.com.

If you’re going abroad, remember that many banks have raised their foreign transaction fees to about 3 percent of the purchase.

Candice Choi writes for the Associated Press.