Extras. Read all about them

We’ve all been asked if we “want fries with that” or otherwise been enticed to buy something more than we originally planned.

Are special touches worth paying extra for?

It’s no different in the travel business, but sometimes what’s part of the package and what’s extra isn’t quite as easy to understand as an upsized Big Mac meal deal.

Travel operators are always looking for ways to attract new customers and to make more money from those already on the hook.

If you use a budget airline, you are already familiar with having to pay for such luxuries as stowed luggage, extra legroom, priority boarding, food and drinks.

But even full-service airlines are getting in on the act. Several American carriers have introduced a “basic economy” option on some regular flights, where the seat is all you buy but the “extras” (including overhead locker access) can add up to more than the usual coach price.

Other airlines are charging passengers for access to their airport lounges. Etihad, for instance, is now offering┬ánon-premium passengers access to its first-class lounge in Abu Dhabi for US$200. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

Hotels are also getting in on the act. I was recently offered an early check-in if I paid for a ┬ároom upgrade. The deal made sense for me — I’d just come off a long-haul flight and needed to sleep — and for the hotel, which obviously had a spare premium room and the means to monetise it. Had I not been tired, I might have just left my luggage and gone for a wander until my regular room was ready.

Cruise companies are very good at squeezing extra money from their customers.

While some packages really are inclusive, most companies will charge extra for gratuities, premium dining and excursions. And nobody’s going to let you gamble at the casino for free.

Once again, it’s a matter of buyer beware. When you are booking any travel, make sure you know what’s included and what isn’t. This is where an agent who has been there and done that can come in handy.

Even experienced travellers go over budget by not anticipating extra costs. For example, did you factor in the price of the taxi to the airport on your way home? Do you even know what a fair cab fare is in that part of the world?

Don’t let extra expenses break the bank and ruin an otherwise relaxing and enjoyable experience.

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