How Resort Fees Trick Consumers

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The resort fee issue boils down to simple business ethics. It’s unethical to mislead customers on price. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if the unethical practice yields higher profit. In any case, attribution of profit to various sources like resort fees is a complicated statistical endeavor that hoteliers are ill equipped to undertake.

  2. @ Gary — As a Globalist and Royal Ambasador, I LOVE waived resort/destination fees. They LOWER the price.

  3. It was very old, antiquated, and needed to be demolished but as an AVGeek there was something that you just couldn’t beat flying in to T7 and seeing four or five BA 744s parked there. I fear that’s going to go away with BA moving to T7 and not just because BA is slowly dumping their 744s. I think the BA jets are going to be strewn all over T8 if that artist’s rendering is any indication.

  4. Haha I can’t think of a better way to further alienate AA’s foreign customers than to rely on Google Translate for customer service. It is barely adequate to the task, at least in Japanese.

  5. Resort fees are a bit like going out to eat in some cities in the US. You look at the menu and don’t fully appreciate the 32% taxes and tips on top of the prices on the menu. Europe is so much cheaper.

  6. Resort fees are stupid. Build everything into the price. This so called “unbundling” is nothing but a scam.
    Also, if I refuse to pay resort fees, does that mean that I cant use the swimming pool?

  7. @747always, it almost always means you can’t stay at the place at all. I accidentally booked a place with “resort fees” once (what a joke, it was the caliber of a roadside Motel 6 which I certainly explained the review later), but I absolutely refuse to book one intentionally. If they have “resort fees” they are lying about their prices, and if they’ll lie about that, why should I think they won’t lie about everything else too? As it turned out, the pool was out of service even though it was included in the “resort fee.” Do you think they refunded my “resort fee”? Fortunately this time it was a relatively small amount that taught me a lesson about doing business with these crooks. These false prices are fraudulent and should be banned. People who stay at places despite this scam are part of the problem.

  8. We just booked a room in Las Vegas for this weekend and purposely looked for a hotel with NO resort fees. We found one downtown.

  9. A quick glance suggests nobody hit on the ‘real reason’ for resort fees. Huge bookings come from online sites other than the hotels own website; hence with resort fees they pay commissions ONLY on the room rate portion, and not the ‘resort fee’ portion. Aside deceiving consumers, what they’re also doing is reducing 3rd party commission payments, substantially. But yes; such fees are a joke and if a hotel has a pool; that’s part of what you booked; and WiFi should be a ‘utility’ these days (for that matter cruise ships are worse and they know inclusive WiFi is coming; not inclusive spas haha).

  10. OK! Let’s have some fun starting 2020 off with one of my longer…rants!…er reader comments! Hehehe 😉

    But hey, there just might be some observations & juicy tid-bits about one airline’s so NOT subtle attempt to “discourage” use of its lounge by biz class pax of a partner airline when that airline’s metal taxis up to the now very far away and oh so NOT convenient to get to gates before departure clear across the biggest terminal at JFK included that may be unique and interesting, too, even if it’s it turns out to be a tad too long of a slog to read for some.

    I think it just may be worth the ride, though!

    However, with topics broken down and set apart, into 3 sections appearing in 3 separate reader comments pertaining to/inspired by the above multi-topic VFTW post, it’s easy to pick and chose only what what one wants to read – plus best of all, everything comes without being forced to read endlessly about topics one has no interest in reading, or of course, being bullied airline/hotelier style into paying additional fees for the convenience/“luxury” of not being forced to read about the topics they’re not interested in! 😉

    So, let’s get this 2020 party started!

    1.) RE BA’s MOVE TO T8 FROM T7 AT JFK:

    Although many bemoan that BA’s JFK T7 is old, cramped, lacks a shopping mall-like experience featuring an array of varied brands and dining options that in reality usually are “concepts” offered to captive audiences at wildly inflated prices by a single 3-letter named company (for example, OTG or the much older and far more predominant HMS) the trade-off for what T7 lacks in amenities is that it also lacks the mile long (plus?), 10+ (or even 15-20 for many) mins, schlep/trek/hike from check-in to the further end of the “B-side” at JFK T4 one has to endure to reach Delta’s/other airlines using B34 and higher (as in the gates beyond the dog leg where the SkyClub and “2nd” Shake Shack are) gates, or the half-mile or so treks (that is, when NOT including the *VERY long* walk from the parking garage or AirTrain station, which adds another 1/3rd [or more?] mile one must endure with their bags, children and/or pets in tow) at JetBlue’s T5.

    So, yeah, sure T7 lacks the distractions and other wallet emptying “amenities” that the much bigger, and newer Terminals 4 and 5 at JFK have, but what it lacks is more than offset by the elimination of having to endure the seemingly never ending schleps one has to endure to/from far away gates found at many of JFK’s other terminals – or of course the endless treks on the other side of the pond at London Heathrow.

    And you won’t risk any chance of facing the recently introduced super long, 10-15 (maybe even 20 for some) minutes long trek from your airlines’ lounge to the absolute furthest away (A6 or A7) gates clear across the entire building that ITSELF is BIGGER than all but the biggest airports around the world in comparably sized cities just so your airline can “discourage” premier classed partner airlines’ passengers from stopping by the lounge before their flights, say the way Delta now does for passengers who are booked on AeroMexico operated flights.

    [SIDEBAR: Sorry, Delta, you know I love you – but just between us friends, we both know that’s the reason why the morning (daytime) and afternoon AeroMexico operated flights to/from Mexico City were shifted over to the “A” gates at JFK T4!

    To better inconvenience AeroMexico’s biz class passengers who for AM operated flights enjoy access to the SkyClub, but for DL operated flights, don’t get to partake in SkyClub nibbles and drinks even if they’re in the pointy end of those ancient 757s flown JFK-MEX-JFK twice per day.

    Seriously, Delta, those dowdy JFK T4 “A” gates where all of the premium class passengers for the Middle East 3, Singapore Airlines, or of course, Virgin Atlantic’s LHR flights all get to hide as they’re being cosseted in those airlines’ very nicely appointed, amenity filled lounges while everyone else gets stuck/left to rot waiting to board in the oldest, dowdiest and most amenity starved/deprived section at JFK T4 that better resembles what airport purgatory is is where the AeroMexico operated flights now must operate from?!?

    I know, I know, the press releases rescinding AM biz class pax access to the JFK T4 SkyClub claiming passengers asked for/demanded/begged for that “perk” of pre-departure SkyClub access to be taken away from them have already been written and are just waiting official release come one late Friday afternoon in the future since it’s crystal clear by the shunting of AM’s painted aircraft to the furthermost most possible distant gates at T4 (short of T2 which, come to think of it, actually if that terminal could be used for international flights would make SkyClub access way “too convenient/accessible” for AM operated biz class pax anyway) that that’s what’s intended anyway.

    Just sayin’ (please don’t hate me for calling you out on that!)].

    Continuing from before that Sidebar about Delta not being nearly as clever as it thinks it is about the “method” it’s using to (de facto end)/rid its JFK T4 SlyClub…er SkyClub…of AM operated biz class pax:

    And with 4-“gates” slated to be used as outdoor hard-stands for “jumbo jets”, with their 2-story high stairs to ascend/descend before/after the bus ride to/from the T8 headhouse (especially during inclement weather, heat waves in summer and/or polar vortexes during the winter), not to mention the mediocre food offerings at JFK T8 (at least the existing ones), other than eliminating the change of terminals for connecting passengers for their anti-trust immunized joint venture duopoly/cartel they control with Delta’s ATI-JV and its 49% owned quasi-subsidiary, Virgin Atlantic, on the world’s sole $1 billion route between NYC and London Heathrow, this is not much of an improvement for O & D passengers.

    Sure, it’s great for the two carriers (and other oneworld alliance airlines that also relocate from T7 to T8) as it allows them to make the most of their combined, shuttle-like schedules of code-shared flights.

    But other than the financial benefits accruing to those two predominant airlines’ bottom lines, and perhaps, enhanced connectivity for some passengers (although this route is both premium class and O & D heavy, and therefore less reliant on connecting traffic) from bringing both airlines under the same roof versus the current split terminal arrangement that makes for time consuming, and extremely undesirable connections, in so many other ways, and possibly for many O & D passengers, this has the potential to becoming an unwanted downgrade when compared to BA’s current T7 even with its shortcomings.

    I guess we shall see!

    But thus far, the comparatively chintzy $344 million (no doubt using taxpayer subsidized NY State below interest financing, too), 4-hard stand gated/bus ride away, T8 announced earlier this week sounds more like what one expects to see for an Ultra Low Cost Carrier terminal than what one would like to think a pair of unabashed monopolists who enjoy a government sanctioned, virtually impenetrable fortress-like stranglehold of the world’s single most lucrative route and who get away with charging a Queen’s ransom for what most regard as 2nd rate and nominally passable “premium” service (at best) SHOULD be offering.

    Just sayin’ 😉


    Only see TWO – yes, just 2 – BA tailfins among the many Greyhound buses parked at that planned future (maybe upscale?) bus terminal!

    btw, do note that NO 747s are seen in the rendering – and perhaps more significantly also note the absence of Airbus A380s AND that there’s NOT a single mention of A380 capable gates (sorry, A380 fans, looks like you’ll still have to wait for the occasional Norwegian Air flights aboard Hi-Fly’s ex-Singapore Airlines A380s if you want to experience the Airbus “Whale” between New York and London 🙁 ) being added – just five more widebody (as in likely only 5 more gates for those “Bloody Awful” and yucky 10-abreast densified 777s and those equally awful/nasty/horrible densified 9-abreast 787s for both airlines, or maybe if we’re really lucky, an occasional Airbus A350-900 operated flight) gates, plus of course, those four more downmarket, ULCC-like, outdoor, bus ride and two-story high stair climb away, hard-stand parking spots.

    But, the absence of BA’s A380s in the rendering is a glaring omission, and the failure to include any specific mention for the addition of A380 capable gates sure does leave one with the impression that those who may have had any hopes that BA’s departure from its longtime home at JFK T7 that was NOT upgraded to allow for using its A380s to American Airlines’ T8 would also usher in a future featuring the addition of flights using any of BA’s A380s, too, it sure does look like that’s sooooo NOT happening if the information gleaned so far is any indication.

    Sorry to disappoint on that.

    Maybe BA or AA will want to clarify which widebody aircraft will be regularly seen parked at those five new T8 gates and say one way or the other if A380s are included – but seeing as most airlines/airports typically include a specific reference about A380 compatible gates when they’re adding them, the absence of anything suggesting A380s in words or images is hard to overlook as having been “overlooked”.

    Wearing my “avgeek” hat instead of the “Green Eyeshades” of the airline’s pencil neck beancounters (or the investment banker overlords the beancounters kowtow to), I only wish BA would replace its beloved, but alas so geriatric, current sub-fleet of “Super High-J” (Club World heavy) configured Boeing 747-400s with an equivalent number 747-8i’s instead of those horrible, and vastly inferior/ghastly 777-300ERs (which, btw, do also note BA’s future “Super High-J” sub-fleet will be its current generation [as in by 2024 kinda OLD] 77W “classics”, and NOT its brand new 777-9s…just sayin’) because no matter how much some airlines try to (or rather, lie as they) insist the nine inch narrower 777 fuselage and an aircraft with several fewer lavatories is comparable to a 747 (or A380), it’s NOT – and **NEVER** will be.


    Especially for the poor souls who pay $1,000 (or more; which is hardly chump change for most) for nothing more than the “privilege” of subjecting themselves to the seemingly endless array of abuses and humiliations starting with the 10 super narrow, “no legroom” seats densely packed among aisles so preposterously narrow one has to pivot sideways and shimmy/shuffle to move about the cabin, and of course, let’s not forget those teeny-tiny toilets for teeny-tiny people airlines like AA and BA now insist is all we deserve to squeeze/back into when nature calls for the princely sums of a thousand (or more) bucks, pounds, or euros (sorry, but those too, goofy Boris Johnson “Brexit” fans).

  12. @Gene,

    Yep, well said and spot on!

    In some countries, Resort Fees are deemed so deceptive and fraudulent they’ve been outlawed.

    Because they’re exactly that:

    Deceptive & Fraudulent

    Such a shame so many in our country adamantly refuse to accept that patently obvious, but alas ugly, truth!

    Proving yet again that “Denial is so much more than a river in Egypt” – as that classic expression goes!

  13. Thanks Howard. And your long post about JFK etc. was also spot-on; I made the trek from SkyClub in T4 to the furthest gate and also twice to T2 only to find my connecting flight gate-changed back to T4 .. hah!. But for me there is NOTHING WORSE than international TO domestic Delta at Atlanta. You go down and they dropped Mobile Passport or global Entry making everyone do biometrics; and then a single horrible line after dropping bags to go thru domestic security … they have errors for Clear and TSA Pre; but it all takes you to the same impossible line (que). I gave feeback repeatedly on the Atlanta mess but nothing changes. Now (even though I’m an old Flying Colonel loyal to Delta for years); I make a point to connect anywhere but Orlando on returning to the U.S. Outbound ATL is ok; inbound ugh. Last trip back I took AMS nonstop to MCO thanksfullly; and next time from LA or LAS or PVR I would rather connect in Mexico City with AeroMexico metal than deal with Atlanta until they publicly announce a fix to the international-to-domestic issue.

  14. Thanks, @Gene!

    Yeah, Delta thinks it’s so clever downgrading/degrading the airport experience at JFK T4 for biz class pax whose flights are operated by AM by using the furthest away, and least desirable gates located on the amenity starved “A” side it’s practically hilarious they actually think nobody would see that effort to “discourage” use of its so remote and time consuming to get to, then from, SkyClub for what it is.

    But, given the 10 mins time it takes AFTER clearing security to get to the SkyClub, followed by the even longer trek it takes to get all the way back (10 mins) AND across the hallway/shopping arcade at the headhouse side of the terminal (another 5 mins), plus the last part to get all the way to the bitter end where the A6 & A7 gates now frequently used for AM operated JFK-MEX flights (yet another 5 mins) that alone is ~30 mins of time (and effort) to be “discourage” use of the SkyClub by AM biz class flyers even if technically AM’s biz class fares still includes pre-flight access to airport lounges for its international flights now that Delta has done its level best to place every obstacle possible in the way to make going to the SkyClub all but impossible for all but the most determined pax seeking to make the most of that component of the airfare that Delta denies to biz class pax for the JFK-MEX flights it operates within their anti-trust immunized joint venture (which, btw, is now so nearly a virtual monopoly between AM and DL that even JetBlue, despite its very large market share in NYC couldn’t keep up with and recently exited).

    And that’s the “obstacle course” erected by Delta as barriers for entry to the T4 SkyClub those face who have the wherewithal to walk briskly with a just a backpack strapped to them as opposed to those who are bogged down with other types of carry-ons and/or rolling suitcases to make that long trek that much more of a test of patience and endurance.

    And if one is not quite as zippy as they used to be when they were younger and in the prime of life – or are a passenger with reduced mobility – then for all intents and purposes that Delta SkyClub at T4 is the functional equivalent for wanderers in a desert that have become so dehydrated they’ve begun hallucinating about the lush oasis that lies ahead that’s nothing more than the cruel joke that is the mirage of their salvation that they’ll never ever get to.

    Of course, Delta seems to think it’s efforts to eliminate access to the T4 SkyClub for AM flights parked at gates A6 and A7 is so slick and clever it’s as if it’s worthy of being “too cool for school” when in reality it’s nothing more than the airport equivalent to intentionally degraded seats and the other contrivances used in recent years to make flying more miserable than ever as long as regulators, and hapless flyers facing fewer and fewer choices (especially with these truly deceptive competition killing anti-trust immunized price fixing/gouging alliances that really are nothing more than collusive cartels who are allowed to carve up markets for themselves like mobsters who decide who controls which “stops” and which “territories” for the industries they’re often associated with controlling in cities like NY).

    Sorry, Delta, but you’re NOT fooling anyone with that sleazeball move that forces AM operated biz class pax to “go through the exhausting paces”/endurance test to access JFK’s T4 SkyClub, that no doubt many find too long and time consuming to bother with at all for flights that depart from gates A6 and A7 (or any “A” gates) for JFK-MEX flights.

    Just sayin’ 😉

  15. And in the above, that incomplete paragraph should be:

    “…as long as regulators and hapless flyers facing fewer and fewer choices […] continue to allow our airlines to get away with offering less and less but charging more and more in the present era where government sanctioned/enabled collusion that’s the dirty little secret better describing what most of these anti-trust immunized, joint venture alliances like Delta and AeroMexico’s have become have become normalized and accepted even despite their increasingly taking on nearly all of the most egregious business practices that for most other industries remain not just outlawed and subject to regulatory disciplinary action, but even are subject to criminal prosecution up to and including serving time in prison like thugs and garden variety common criminals.”

    So, perhaps it’s time to rethink if these anti-trust exemptions that apply to most other industries – for good reason – are delivering their long ago promised benefits for consumers?

    Of if instead they have morphed into the category of “unintended consequences” that were not foreseen nearly 30 years ago when they were originally envisioned as a tool to unleash competition featuring a bevy of consumer friendly “benefits” that increasingly no longer exist now that there’s just three major legacy network airlines domestically, and but for the Middle East 3, Norwegian Air and a handful of other “unaligned” airlines, just three international “alliances” who seem perfectly happy controlling and carving up the world’s most lucrative routes among themselves?”

    With apologies for the incomplete paragraph in the above.

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