Resort fees appear to be proliferating -- and increasing. Only a few years ago, it was uncommon to find a hotel with a resort fee higher than $20 a night, and they were limited to resort areas like Las Vegas and Orlando. Today, they're everywhere.
The North American airline industry collected an estimated $8.2 billion last year from fees for items such as checked baggage, premium seat assignments and early boarding privileges -- a $700 million increase from 2013. But are they keeping more of your money than they should?
Most airline tickets are nonrefundable and require a hefty change fee plus any fare differential. And many hotel rooms are totally nonrefundable and nonchangeable, so you could lose the entire value of your room. So, why doesn't it work the other way around?
Who is responsible when we get stuck with a worthless voucher? The company -- or the customer? I'm not fond of the term "the customer is always right," but in this particular case, it's a fitting phrase.
Airlines don't like to return your money, even when they're required to by law. The fix? We need to incentivize airlines to repay us quickly by tightening refund rules and adding harsh penalties for pocketing our money.