Welcome to a traveler's guide to the ultimate in expletives: the five biggest F-words and the latest outrages provoking each utterance. Plus, a bonus blasphemy at the end for pet owners.
F-Word No. 1: 'Fees'
You saw this one coming. Now a couple of new reasons to use "fee" as a curse word.
JetBlue Hikes Bag Fee: This airline has a lot going for it, including a new-look website and its popular "first checked bag is free" policy. However, if you plan to haul a second suitcase on your summer vacation flight with JetBlue, you'll pay an extra $80 round-trip for the privilege.
Yes, the carrier upped its second checked-bag fee, but here's the thing: Airlines can and do fiddle with fees all the time and they do not publicize these changes. Be sure you know what your airline charges or risk a nasty surprise.
Spirit's New Fee: Speaking of nasty surprises, notice those jaw-droppingly low prices on Spirit? Not so fast! The carrier, one of the few domestic airlines that is actually expanding, now charges anywhere from $20 to $45 for a carry-on. Plus, Spirit has a new fee, its $2 "unintended consequences" fee, which is the airline's response to recent government regulations regarding new fare-disclosure regulations, that 24-hour money-back guarantee and, well, you get the picture.
United's New Pet Fees: You can now wind up paying well beyond $3,000 round-trip to transport a dog or a cat on some of United's international flights because of a pet policy change that now classifies the animals as cargo instead of checked baggage. U.S. military folks and their families in Japan are going nuts because of to a Japanese-mandated law requiring another hefty cargo fee that United tacks on. If Fifi's flying to Fukuoka, open that wallet.
F-Word No. 2: 'Feds'
By "feds," I mean TSA officers, of course, who continue from time to time to confound the public with their security rituals. There was a lot of buzz recently about a woman who claimed she was subjected to multiple X-ray screenings because she was "cute," but she also said she never complained to the TSA, which noted it is not its policy to do multiple screenings.
Still, some believe we need a passenger advocate at security checkpoints and there is proposed legislation that would include that.
Is an advocate necessary? I posed that question to TSA spokesman Greg Soule.
Soule said the TSA doesn't comment on pending legislation but he mentioned the "TSA Cares Hotline" (toll-free at 1-855-787-2227).
"When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares," said Soule, "a representative will provide assistance, either with information about screening that is relevant to the passenger's specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA."
By the way, sometimes the feds are our friends. I can think of no better example than the recently enacted regulations that force airlines and others to include all those mandatory taxes and fees in advertised airfares prices. Our friends at Spirit are not crazy about this new transparency mainly because it's meant the end of their eyeball-catching $9 fares.