It is time again to vent as part of the “Things That Tick Me Off” series — an arbitrary list that helps keep me sane by periodically raving at the world. This week’s addition is wi-fi charges, particularly at high-end hotels (though this remains the case with some mid-range hotel chains as well) I am staying this week at the Waldorf-Astoria while I speak at the ABA’s Legal Malpractice conference. Not only does the hotel charge $15 bucks for wi-fi in the rooms but $15 for each and every device such as iPads. The Waldorf-Astoria is a beautiful and historic hotel and it is certainly not alone in this practice. However, it is irritating to be clipped for such costs after checking in. This is less common in Canada and Europe hotels.
I have always been struck by the fact that budget hotels largely offer free wi-fi. However, luxury hotels charge customers ridiculous rates. While someone else is footing the bill, Waldorf-Astoria charges $750 for a standard room. Yet, even at $700 a night, the hotel still clips customers for wi-fi — for each and every device. A recent survey showed that wi-fi is the most important feature for most travelers — over such features as coffee makers and other standard items.
I realize that the hotels are bilking business and well-healed travelers but it would be refreshing for a luxury hotel to offer the same services as Comfort Inn. While some top hotels have moved away from the imposition of fees for wifi, hotels like Waldorf-Astoria continue to rip off customers. Thus, you can get free wi-fi in any number of cafes and pizza joints in New York, you will pay for wi-fi at the Waldorf-Astoria and other luxury hotels in addition to some of the highest rates in the world.
Notably, I just took Amtrak to New York and was again pleased to have free wi-fi on the train. Amtrak asked what travelers wanted most and offered the free service. Conversely, I just got off a United flight that not only charged me $60 each way for an economy seat with added room to be able to open my laptop, but also demanded separate fees for wi-fi and access to the programming on the television screens at each chair.
However, it is the charges at high-end hotels that is the most galling. I realize that, for those of us traveling on accounts, we should not care, but it is a rip off.