Dulles and Reagan National Propose a Tax on Hotel Shuttles

Upgrade: Travel Better has the story on my local airport authority run amok. They don’t like consumers choosing airport hotel ‘park and fly’ rates, they lose revenue, and so they’re going to require the hotels to pay to pick up and drop off passengers at the airport.

The authority will hold two public hearings next month on a proposal to adopt, “with the full force and effect of law,” a requirement that area hotels pay a $2.50 fee every time a hotel shuttle picks up passengers at Ronald Reagan National or Washington Dulles International airports.

The reason for the fee:
“In effect, by offering competitive off-airport parking and providing courtesy service to the airport’s primary curbs, local hotels are diverting a portion of revenue that would otherwise be received by the Airports Authority through either the public-parking operation or taxicabs’ services,” the report states.

This is eerily similar to GM going to the federal government for a bailout (“you wouldn’t buy our awful cars, so we’ll make you pay for it anyway.”). Hotels offer a competitive product that travelers actually want, instead of paying the airport. So the airport wants its money anyway and will use “the force of law” to get it.

Driving a friend to the airport also takes money away from airport parking lots, and shouldn’t they be legally entitled to that revenue? They need it, after all! So by force of law drivers should have to pay a toll to get onto the airport property if dropping off or picking up passengers.

The airports authority does claim “The hotel shuttles are the only ground-transportation providers at the airport that are not charged a fee currently.” suggesting that increasing fees is ‘fair’ rather than questioning the underlying fee itself.

But of course there aren’t that many different types of ground-transportation providers at the airport, and taxis at Dulles are granted a service monopoly along with their fees (a whole other problem, the company with the monopoly contract is terrible).

Big thumbs down to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. You are correct. This is not a good idea at all.Example:
    Fly into or take a cruise from San Juan PR. and you soon realize local transport is all controlled by the taxi/tourist board mafia. It’s cheaper to rent a car to go to local hotels.

  2. The friendly folks running Sydney Airport changed the International Terminal so now it’s impossible to pick someone up without parking (at a minimum cost of AU$7 for 30 minutes). If you try to pick someone up from the Departures level then they’ll hit you with a $100+ fine (though they *do* still let you drop someone off without charge…..for the moment).

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