Tag: Travel FeesView All Tags
You kids might not remember this, but a few years ago Congress wanted to tax foreign tourists in order to increase foreign tourism. The deeply moronic public theory was to take money from tourists, then use that money to promote tourism, then wait around for all the tourists to start flooding in. In actuality it was a way to drive travelers to Las Vegas restaurants and hotels and away from other parts of the country, all done at the expense of tourists who just wanted to come to the United States. Congress ended up passing that legislation and the President ended up signing it, by the way.
Fast forward to the 2014 budget submitted by President Obama to Congress. It looks to make air travel better by taxing air travel more. The giggle-worthy logic begins with the idea that getting through an airport takes a really long time right now because there aren't enough workers and infrastructure, and that's depressing travel. But if you tax travelers, the reasoning goes, you'll be able to put that money into airports. Airports will become better, more people will want to use them, and magic happens.
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Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport is starting a program where Texas sales tax can be made optional to those visiting from overseas. Sure the tax needs to be paid up front, but afterwards they’re making it pretty easy to get a little percentage back on that Tony Romo jersey or bottle of BBQ sauce.
Apparently it’s one of the first big airports in the country to do this, and it’s all available through a little kiosk in the North Ticketing Hall inside Terminal D. TaxFree Shopping is the one running this new system, so be on the lookout for their sign if you want a little bit of money back. Sure you’ll need to show receipts for what you bought, but the refund here is instant—and via cash, PayPal or check—so there’s no waiting period or need to deal with overly confusing paperwork or mailing stuff in.
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Even if you’re not obsessed with all things travel like we are, you’re probably somewhat familiar with Ryanair and all the fees, tricks, and traps they use to generate more revenue. Just one of the things that you need to do before heading to the airport is print out your boarding pass, because if you need to do it at the airport you’re going to be charged for it...some 40 Euros ($53) for the pleasure, actually.
Spain isn’t too cool with this fee, as a judge in the country has ruled that Ryanair can’t charge passengers who need to print their boarding pass at the airport. A Spanish lawyer brought up the lawsuit, as he himself was hit with the fee for needing to print out his boarding materials at the airport.
At this point Southwest Airlines has done a pretty good job letting everyone know that bags fly free aboard their red-bellied planes, but now they might be spreading the word about another of their traveler friendly policies. Best of all, they want you to help them out by promoting their lack of a change fee.
Southwest doesn’t charge a change fee, and they are looking for a few good travelers to share their stories about switching flights and paying for it. A casting company is trying to find some Los Angeles-area travelers who have been screwed by all kinds of change fees to star in some new commercials. The airline is looking for anyone and everyone, as long as you have paid one of these fees and have the paperwork to backup your sob story. They want to see credit card statements along with you tears.
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Beginning today, travelers to the United States from 36 nations will face paying an extra $14 at the border, thanks to the Travel Promotion Act. It goes into effect today as you can guess, and the $14 fee's purpose is—to put it plainly—to take money from tourists for encouraging tourism. $4 will cover the operating costs of registering the travelers for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and the $10 chunk will then be turned right into a fund for promoting tourism to the United States.
The 36 nations are those that fall under the US' visa waiver program, which allows visits to the US of up to 90 days without the necessity of a seeking a visa (so long as you don't seek work). The foreign travelers who pay the $14 fee are covered for two years as the fees is not per-trip.
To find out if you'll be subject to forking over the extra dollars next time you visit the good old US of A, here is a complete list of the 36 countries:
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Earlier this summer, the US Government raised passport fees substantially, causing US citizens to reach deeper into their pockets for the ability to travel abroad. With that done, the fall focus will be on wringing a little extra cash from foreign visitors to the US with the new Travel Promotion Act. This act, which goes into effect on Wednesday, September 15, is essentially a $14 fee for entering the country, levied on the heads of travelers from 36 nations.
The 36 nations are those that fall under the US' visa waiver program, which allows visits to the US of up to 90 days without the necessity of a seeking a visa (so long as you don't seek work). Wikipedia has a nice map of these countries here, which includes most of Europe plus Australia/New Zealand and even Japan. So if you're from one of the countries marked in red on the map, you can now expect to plonk down the extra dollar bills.
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When you finally get off the plane, you would think that the fee-for-all is over, but there’s another group of businesses looking to hit you up for more of your hard-earned cash. Once you make your way to the rental car garage, companies from Avis to Hertz will hit you with new fees they've already begun to include to help out their bottom line—consider yourself warned!
Hertz recently stated that their revenue is up almost 10%, and they freely admit that some of the money came from those newfangled ancillary revenues. Avis is reporting the same thing, so it’s clear that consumers are falling for stuff like GPS add-ons and pay-per-day EZ Pass units. We’ll admit that we’ve paid the extra bucks so we didn’t have to wait in line at NYC area bridges with the suckers in the cash-only lanes, so at least the drivers are getting something out of it.
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Go ahead and laugh, but we actually wished people a happy Passport Day this past Saturday. Most had no idea what we were talking about, but after a short explanation, everybody was into the idea of Passport offices being open on Saturdays for walk-ins when they're usually restricted to appointments only during weekday work hours. It's all for the greater travel good!
Passport Day is no joke, either. This might be the second year that the government has done it, but last year they said they collected over 57,000 passport applications around the country on just the one day. Judging from the round-the-block line we saw at the Passport offices on Hudson Street in New York City, we're expecting that number to double once they've tallied up the success of this year. Dropping in to get extra pages added while they're still free (stupid rumored passport fee hike), we just about the only ones in line who already had a passport. Most were there to submit for their first Passportyay, new travelers!
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We want to be the very first to wish you a happy early Passport Day. The government is eager for us to get the hell out of the country—not really—but they are designating March 27 as Passport Day in the USA. Despite sounding like a Miley Cyrus song, the day will open the doors at many passport offices for extended Saturday hours to help everyone renew or apply for a passport.
No appointments will be necessary and you won’t even have to prove that you are leaving tomorrow—in theory the passport officers will actually be eager to help you out. If you aren’t near any of the big time passport facilities, there will be thousands of Post Office locations around the country to help you fill out the paperwork and make fun of your photo. Maybe you can even swing by one of the new offices in Dallas, Detroit, or Minneapolis just to check things out. Passport offices like these will be open from 10am to 3pm, but we’d get there a little early to stake out a good spot in the line.
Paying for souvenir passport stamps is one thing. The fake stamps probably violate a whole host of international treaties and they might invalidate your passport, but at least you're adding something tangible. Contrast that with what the State Department is proposing, where American citizens would have to pay $82 merely to add blank visa pages to their passports. The travel fee is just one of many passport-related charges and price hikes being suggested by Foggy Bottom, part of a revamped fee structure that's drawing heavy fire from lawmakers and the public.
In addition to the new blank paper feewhich has never existed beforethe cost of a new adult passport would rise from $100 to $135. That's a 35% increase. Full passport cost for a family of four: almost $500. Simply renewing your passport would cost $110, a hefty price in exchange for a blank book and having a few digits changed in your electronic file. Maybe State noticed how airlines were getting away with random fees and wanted in on the action. Whatever the explanation, the move has predictably drawn more than a little ire from lawmakers.
TIME magazine has finally gotten around to covering the new government-funded US tourism board that we covered a few months ago. We're mentioning our post not because we posted the story way back in September, but because the way we emphasized the Travel Promotion Act was exactly the opposite of how TIME is covering it. It's not that the venerable news weekly didn't get to all the angles eventually. It's just that they took a different, kind of obnoxious road.
Whereas we highlighted how it's a bad idea for Congress to charge Europeans an extra $10 per trip, the better to promote Las Vegas hotels and restaurants, TIME took a more "reprint what the press release said" approach. Let's take a look at the article:
Is a visit to the U.S. worth ten bucks? The U.S. Senate seems to think so. According to the AP, the Senate voted on Wednesday to charge a $10 fee to international visitors, with the proceeds funding a nonprofit corporation to promote tourism to the country. In order for the bill to become law, the House of Representatives would also have to approve it, but if they do, foreign visitors who do not need visas to enter the country would have to pay the fee each time they register online in advance of a trip.