Travel briefs

Government fees aren’t the ones air travelers hate

Here’s a surprise: Most air travelers wouldn’t mind paying more in fees — if it helps cut lines at airports.

Airlines have vehemently opposed proposals to increase government fees on airline tickets, saying higher costs would dampen demand for travel and hurt tourism.

But 60 percent of leisure and business travelers say they would support an increase if the money pays for improvements that reduce delays at airports, according to a new survey of 1,031 U.S. travelers.

The survey, commissioned by a travel industry trade group, found that government fees ranked as the least frustrating fee or tax imposed on travelers. The most frustrating fee, according to the survey, was the $200 charge that airlines impose on passengers for changing or canceling flights.

“I was surprised that the government taxes and fees were at the bottom of the list,” said Erik Hansen, senior director of domestic policy for the U.S. Travel Assn., which conducted the survey. “But if you think about what it pays for, it’s aviation security and infrastructure. You need every single one of those.”

Asked what bothers travelers most about taking a commercial flight, 30 percent said delays and 26 percent said airline fees. Near the bottom of the list was taxes, with only 1 percent.

Website offers a rail option

The Internet is jammed with travel websites to book airline flights. But the operators of CheapAir.com say they are the only air search site that gives travelers the option of booking a trip by rail.

Jeff Klee, chief executive of the Calabasas-based website, said the idea to add rail was initially aimed at East Coast travelers who might need to go from Washington, D.C., to New York or Philadelphia. A trip on Amtrak between those destinations could cost less than a quarter of the price of a flight.

“We did it primarily for East Coast routes, where train travel is a real viable alternative,” he said.

But Klee said Amtrak can also be an alternative for Southern Californians traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego or Santa Barbara.

What about adding express bus services or commuter rail lines to the search site?

“We are open to anything if it’s technically feasible,” Klee said.

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