Project 2012: Day 281
We booked our domestic flights back in August when planning the trip, with the travel agent STA. I have to say this was a particularly frustrating and complex trip to plan. There are just so many options, so many places to visit, and friends to see.
Then there’s the flights. Different airline partnerships. Different airports and taxes. Changing from one airport might save you huge amounts in the ticket, but end up costing you an hour in transfers, not to mention losing all your savings just getting to your location.
Initially I thought to get one of those Air Passes, where you get a number of hops, and can book up to the day before you travel. But they turned out to be pretty expensive.
Anywhoo, we thought we got a pretty good deal, right up until check-in for our flight to San Francisco. It was then that we were asked for $25 per checked-in bag!! Srsly?!?!? It turns out airlines in the US charge you for everything. And I’m not talking about the budget carriers, but the established businesses (we were flying United).*
And no my American friends, that’s not the experience around the rest of the world.
“Not happy Jan!”
It’s bad enough that Airlines in the US charge you to check a bag in. What was worse was that the travel agent led us to believe all of our travel costs were covered. So we were expecting cheap flights (bait) only to be stung with unexpected luggage fees (switch)
The second place we encountered Switch and Bait was in New York. Everyone, apparently wants an I NY tee-shirt. Around Times Square you’ll find a dozen souvenir shops selling these plain shirts, and they’ll advertise “4 T-shirts for $10” with these tees on display.
Of course when you get there, the 4 for $10 shirts have an entirely different design. You’ll be lucky to get an I NY shirt for <$12
I’ve no problem with the economics of supply and demand, but I do have an issue with switch and bait tactics. Enough for me to refuse to buy anything from those shops.
I know, they probably didn’t even notice the lack of my business. So be it.
In fact if I have one issue with the USA it’s that nothing is the indicated price. From grocery stores, to taxis, restaurants to attractions. You have to add sales tax (different in different states, and different depending on the goods or service). Then there’s an expectation to add around a 20% tip.
Tip: If you’re headed to the US, allocate an extra 30% for anything you budget.
*The one airline that does include a checked bag, ironically, is the discount carrier, JetBlue. They were by far the friendliest, most economical, on time, and comfortable domestic airline we flew in the States.