Rising energy prices top the list of main worries at the moment and many consumers will have to limit their travel budget. It is all the more annoying when hidden extra charges pop up during your well-deserved holiday. For World Tourism Day, ECC Latvia explains how consumer can detect and, more importantly, avoid these additional costs.
Additional costs in hotels
Who is not familiar with this situation? After a long journey, one would like to recover in the hotel room right away. To do so, you sometimes need to check in earlier. However, this is often charged separately. Extra charges for breakfast or parking fees have also become common practice. A local tourism tax is levied in several European countries, for instance in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany and Malta.
On top of that, low-cost hotels in particular charge user fees for the use of safes and TVs in the room. Fast Wi-Fi often costs extra. In Spain, guests are sometimes asked to pay for luggage storage. In the Netherlands, you may have to pay for the use of hairdryers. Also, if you want to borrow a bathrobe in France or Finland, you’ll have to pay an extra fee.
Bringing your pet usually costs as well. In some places, a special final cleaning fee is added. Some hotels charge for final cleaning even without pets.
Also, in some countries the transfer from the hotel to the airport usually is not included, for instance in Germany or the Czech Republic.
Other fees may be added: In Spain, France and Italy, umbrellas and sun loungers cost extra at many public beaches.
Good to know: Before concluding the contract, the vacationer must be informed by the contract or the general terms and conditions which services are included and which are not, and what they cost extra. If there are additional services offered at the location (towel rental, use of faster Internet, etc.), there must be a clear indication of the additional costs on-site at the latest.
Additional costs for package tours
The European package travel law provides that, under certain conditions, the organizer can increase the travel price by up to 8% even after booking. The prerequisite is that
- the contract contains such a price adjustment clause,
- the traveller was informed of this by means of a form before the contract was concluded,
- this clause provides not only an increase but also a decrease in the price of the trip,
- the price increase is communicated at least 21 days before departure
- the calculation of the new price is transparent
- and the costs of fuel and kerosene, port or airport taxes have increased, or the exchange rates have changed. Other cost increases may not be passed on to the customer.
However, if the cost increases were foreseeable at the time of booking or if one of the above conditions is not met, you may refuse payment. Conversely, the price increase is also effective without your consent if all the above conditions are met.
In case of price increases of more than 8%, the organizer must inform you and request that you explicitly accept the increase within a certain period or withdraw from the contract. If you do not respond within this period, the price increase is considered as accepted. So, make sure to respond in time if you do not wish to accept the offer.
Additional costs for flights
Before booking, travellers must be informed of the airfare, including all taxes, fees and surcharges. However, airlines often help themselves out here with a trick: additional services that used to be included in the ticket price are now charged extra. Examples: Check-in at the airport (instead of online), checked baggage, seat selection, meals.
Tips on how to Recognize & avoid additional costs
- Read offers carefully and check which services are included before you book. In case of doubt, contact the hotel or the tour operator.
- Read costumer reviews to see if other guests have complained about unexpected additional costs.
- Ask for the bill before the end of your stay to detect extra charges early on.
- If you have to pay to be able to check in or out at all, note “Payment subject to reservation” on the invoice. Immediately write to the hotel management or the organizer.
- Book cancellable rates. These might be a little bit more expensive, but may save you high cancellation fees in the end.
- Before choosing an extra travel insurance: Check if the insurance on your credit card is sufficient.
- If you book “all inclusive” you will have fewer surprises when it comes to food and beverage costs.
- Book well in advance.
- Use a less popular airport.
- Book in the off-season or on weekdays that are less busy.
- Instead of using the hotel parking: Switch to free public parking lots.