A traveler to Australia/New Zealand is quickly introduced to fees and add-ons of all kinds, some examples:
- Booking fees on some airline websites
- Fee to connect international and domestic terminals in Sydney (unless connecting to Qantas or Virgin Australia)
- Depending on route, only coffee/tea/water free in flight, with various pre-flight and in-flight upsells for everything else
- Hotels charging for everything from airport shuttles to wi-fi to checking out at noon (instead of 10 am as many set their policy)
- Even the fish and chips place in Norfolk Island charging 60 cents for thimbles of ketchup!
Economists can make the argument that having everything a la carte brings rationality to the transaction. You get what you pay for, no more, no less.
Or you get people to pay a price incorrectly assuming basic services are included, then ream them for more. Such is the case of a hotel like the barracks-esque ibis Budget Sydney Airport that appears slightly cheaper than competitors until you show up and get hit for charge after charge for what the others include.
I don’t like these models for myself because my first thought when hit by a charge such as for wi-fi is to try to make do without or conserve, rather than relax in my stay. With everything so transactional, even more of the personality and hospitality is removed from the travel experience. By the way, I am writing this from Olini Lodge in Tonga where the garrulous caretaker insists guests feel at home and have run of the many fruits of the garden. What a change.
I don’t know the history of Australia/New Zealand in this regard, so I am curious.
- How did Australia/New Zealand adopt this extreme a la carte model to pricing in their consumer economy?
- How do Australians/New Zealanders feel when they visit countries where prices are typically more inclusive? Better travel experience or feel they are paying extra for stuff they won’t use?
- How do the rest of you feel when visiting Australia/New Zealand and encounter these charges? Does it make sense irk you?
- US airlines have adopted much of this, will other parts of the US economy move in this direction?