Expat Life

5 Ways Airports Are Ripping You Off & How To Avoid It

As an average traveler in a new country, there are a lot of challenges that crop up. In fact, by the time you get out of the airport, you would’ve already spent a few hundreds of your precious foreign currency. Unpleasant experiences can mar the vacation spirit and put you in a bad mood right before the journey even begins. On the other hand, they can play spoilsport towards the end of an otherwise perfect trip. Let us have a look at the ways in which air travel can end up being super expensive.

  1. Baggage limit

On an international trip, you always tend to shop more than planned. You can’t resist shopping and loading your bag with some exotic goodies to satisfy yourself of having made a productive visit. However, the weighing machine at the airport shoots beyond the permissible limit, thus stressing you out. That’s a common mistake we all do. Most of us take a considerable period of time while packing our bags before leaving for a trip to ensure that all essentials have been packed within the allowed baggage weight limit. But on the return trip, we lose our sense of judgment only to pay around £65 or $100 US dollars extra (refers to British Airways; Source: The Telegraph). Baggage fees vary according to the time you report for the check in, route of your flight, number, size and weight of the bags. The basic rates of some airlines for carrying additional bags in the economy class as given by Airline-Baggage-Fee.com include:

2. Food And Drinks

Facilities as basic as water are also exorbitantly charged (read 300% more) at airports. A water bottle hidden in some corner of the handbag will not be able to escape the security check. Ultimately, the urge to drink water will burn a hole in your pocket and you will have to dish out an unreasonable sum of money. The Hudson News store at LAX airport used to charge $5 for a water bottle that had an original price of $2.55 (USA Today). Same is the case with food once you are on the flight. Regular travelers tend to carry membership cards to access airport lounges, but less frequent travelers have to bear the brunt. Price of a Big Mac Burger at a regular McDonald’s outlet is far cheaper than the one available at the airport by virtue of its location. Rates on food and beverages vary even at different terminals of the airport. For example, at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, prices of a beer bottle differ by one dollar on two different terminals (USA Today). In the U.S., approximately 49% of the airports charge a high price for food due to their Street Plus Pricing model (Source: thePointsGuy.com), where the charges are justified because you are eating in their premises.

It is advisable to follow the following tips in this regard:

  • Carry your own food both for the airport and the flight according to the prescribed rules. Sandwiches, fresh fruits, salads and crackers are great items to munch on.
  • Carry an empty water bottle as you pass through the security check and replenish it later on.
  • Having items in your handbag that can be cooked instantly is another good option for avoiding food provided by airlines.
  • Visit an In-N-Out outlet near the airport to quickly grab some fast food so that you don’t have to eat inside while waiting for the flight.

3. Using A Trolley/Porter

If paying for overindulgence by way of baggage fee wasn’t enough, get ready to spend money on using a porter for carrying the hefty suitcases. This is a necessary evil especially if you are traveling alone and the queues are pretty long. Similarly, getting a trolley also costs a few Euros or Dollars, unless you are lucky enough to find an abandoned one which has been used and left near the check in counters. At the Austin Bergstrom airport in Texas, you will have to pay $4 for using a simple trolley. Bristol airport will charge you £2 (approximately $3, non-refundable) for using trolleys.

4. Lack Of Pick-Drop Facility

Many international airports don’t allow free pick and drop facility, which ultimately costs the travelers’ pocket. The cab driver will charge in full the amount he has to pay to drop the customer at the terminal. At the Washington Dulles Airport in Virginia, taxi drivers can charge as high as $70 for a trip. Taking your own vehicle is no cheaper as it attracts a huge parking fee, even for a small duration. At the Laguardia Airport in Queens, New York, the parking fee is extremely high with $59 being charged for a day (Source: The Active Times).

5. WiFi Access

For businessmen and corporate executives, nothing can be more important than getting access to the internet. Roaming charges can make mobile data an expensive affair, which is why they rely on Wifi services at the airport. The Telegraph reveals how the busiest airports of the U.K. provide no or limited access to travelers. For example, the airport at Edinburgh offers only two hours of access, while the one at Manchester allows users a single hour of access. Following that, charges begin to apply. In the U.S., Los Angeles Airport in California charges nothing less than $10, whereas the St. Louis Lambert Airport, Missouri charges $8 for Wifi services. This means that one cannot fully enjoy a long layover period without disbursing some extra cash.

Apart from all these things, we usually keep buying foreign currency for the 11th hour. You cannot do anything without money and getting it exchanged at the last moment via some shady counter at skyrocketing prices is a really bad idea. It is always advisable to avail the services of a fund transfer company that remits money rapidly at genuine foreign exchange rates. Few companies such as InstaRem also offer a bonus to first time users!

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