REALITY CHECK

Before You Book, Look for Hidden Costs

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Sunday, January 8, 2006

We've all seen the ads for those amazing air fares and the incredible deals on cruises and other travel. Too good to be true? Usually, but that doesn't mean they're not bargains. You just need to be aware of the hidden fees -- such as mandatory gratuities, fuel surcharges and airport concession fees -- that could be lurking.

With vacation planning for the new year well underway, we took a look at six deals from a variety of sources. We've included a breakdown of the fees to give you a better idea of what to expect when shopping around -- and whether you can actually get to London for $238 round trip.

-- Elissa Leibowitz Poma

International Plane Ticket

Example: A mid-February, round-trip flight from Dulles to London Heathrow on British Airways.

Where we found it: On British Airways' Web site, http://www.britishairways.com .

Advertised cost: $238.

Actual cost: $456.12.

Total fees: $218.12, or 48 percent of the total cost.

The breakdown: Taxes are $103.91. A fuel surcharge is $103.35. There's also an insurance and security charge of $8.36; the 9/11 security fee for flights departing from the United States is $2.50. Note: Phone bookings may be subject to an extra fee.

Comment: Fees for non-European destinations usually aren't this steep.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company


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