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Coming & Going: Fee fury, a reason to check bags and hotel discounts

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Friday, September 10, 2010; 1:49 PM

Not gonna take it anymore

Are you mad as hell about airline fees? Well, now there's a Web site where you can tell the world exactly how mad you are. And it's called, appropriately enough, Madashellabouthiddenfees.com .

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Launched last week by the Consumer Travel Alliance, the Business Travel Coalition and the American Society of Travel Agents, the site offers a forum where travelers can tell their hidden-fee stories, create YouTube videos and sign a petition urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to require airlines to do a better job of disclosing fees.

The three groups have also declared Sept. 23 to be "Mad as Hell Day!" and plan to deliver the petition to the Transportation Department on that date.

Travelers "are tired of arriving at the airport and finding huge unexpected costs for travel services they thought were part of the ticket price," said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Traveler Coalition, in a written statement. "It's time for consumers, corporate travel managers and travel agents to stand up and say, 'We're not going to take this anymore!' "

In a survey conducted by the groups during the two weeks before Labor Day, 66 percent of 1,396 respondents said they had been surprised at the airport by fees for services such as checking bags, requesting a seat assignment, getting extra legroom or flying standby. Nearly all - 99 percent - said they think that airlines should be required to disclose all their fees in advance on every Web site that sells airline tickets.

Those travelers could eventually get their way. The Transportation Department is considering new rules that would require disclosure of baggage fees as well as more transparent fare advertising.

Checked bag rewards

If you're not a fan of packing light, consider a stay at an InterContinental Hotels Group property.

From now until Dec. 30, guests staying two consecutive weekend nights will be reimbursed for checked-bag fees, as long as the reservation was booked with a valid Visa card. Don't expect it to come out of your room bill, though. The reimbursement will be in the form of a prepaid Visa card. The maximum reward per stay is $50, but you can accumulate up to $850 before the promotion ends.

The company's brands include InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and Candlewood Suites. Read all the fine print at www.ihg.com/freebag.

Sneak away for less

Move over, JetSetter and Tablet Hotels. TripAdvisor and Smarter Travel have launched a private sale Web site that will let members book hotel rooms at a discount. The first sale on Sniqueaway.com will take place Sept. 20 (among the featured hotels: the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.).

All hotels must have earned a minimum four-star rating classification on TripAdvisor, and corresponding hotel reviews will be shown alongside each offer.

Each week, members will receive e-mail notifications of three new sales, which will increase over time. Offers will be on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available for up to seven days or until sold out. Joining is free, though new members must be invited by friends (and if you invite a friend who books a room, you get a $25 credit).

Travel Ticker

The fifth annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival is Sept. 24-26 at the Rosecliff and Marble House in Newport, R.I. Tickets for seminars led by industry experts are $20 and can be purchased online at www.newportmansionswineandfood.org or by calling 401-847-1000, Ext. 140. Special pricing is available on tickets purchased before Sept. 17.

Reporting: Becky Krystal, Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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