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Hilton opts for candor about added fee

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Hotel fees are on the rise, and so is the frustration from hotel guests who are often surprised to find their checkout bills weighed down by charges for extras such as wireless Internet, parking and newspapers.

Hospitality giant Hilton Worldwide may have found a way to collect extra revenue without annoying guests with hidden fees.

Under a new program called Little Extras Upgrade, Hilton’s DoubleTree hotels will offer guests who are staying in a standard room a package of extras such as snacks and drinks for an added cost of $25 to $35 a night, depending on the package.

The packages will include high-speed in-room Wi-Fi, snacks, candy, water, fruit, drink vouchers and an in-room premium coffee brewer. The food and drinks can be delivered to the room or guests can be given 24-hour access to a snack room.

Hilton announced the idea this month, saying it is now rolling out the deal to DoubleTree hotels across the nation.

By the end of 2015, U.S. hotels are expected to collect $2.47 billion in fees and surcharges, compared with $2.35 billion in 2014, said Bjorn Hanson, an expert on hotel fees and a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.

A rule change for minors flying alone

With little public notice, United Airlines has expanded the age range of children who must use a $150 service when flying without an accompanying adult.

For tickets that were sold after Dec. 14, any child ages 5 to 15 flying solo must pay for the “unaccompanied minor service.” Under the service, airline employees chaperone children to their seats and ensure they are united with designated adults upon landing.

For tickets sold before Dec. 14, the charge was required only for ages 5 to 12.

There is a better way to pull off such a change without angering travelers, said Jay Sorensen, a consultant on airline revenue and president of Wisconsin-based IdeaWorksCo.

Because the change will mean more parents must pay the $150 fee, Sorensen suggests that United offer an upgrade to the service to ease the pain of the extra cost. For example, he said, Air New Zealand recently announced that it plans to give unaccompanied minors wristbands embedded with computer chips to send text messages to let parents know where the children are throughout the flight.

“Obviously, they are going to generate more revenue from this,” he said. “They should make an attempt to improve the product.”

Delta and American Airlines charge $150 for unaccompanied minor service for children ages 5 to 14. Southwest Airlines requires the service for children 5 to 11, with a $50 fee.

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