Hi I'm Jason! Gouge me! New airline charges come out of business travelers' own pockets


When you travel for work, you know the drill: Get receipts for everything. When you spend cash for stuff like meals, beverages, hotels, and rental cars, your employer is likely to pick up the tab as long as you've got proof of purchase.

But what if you have to spend money on the road but can't get a receipt? It's happening more and more. The major airlines have deployed their newest fees with such haste that they are not always equipped to issue receipts for on-board purchases. Ask a flight attendant for one, and on some carriers you're more likely to receive a blank stare than appropriate documentation.

Take U.S. Airways. As of Aug. 1, the carrier began charging for drinks of any sort, including $2 for water. Passengers are not permitted to carry their own beverages through security, and buying drinks in the terminal is not always possible either because of a time crunch or because of personal dignity over gouging. If you, a business traveler, decide during Hour Three of a flight that you're thirsty, the staff will sell you a drink but they won't be able to give you a receipt.

I called U.S. Airways to ask if any of its flight attendants were equipped to furnish receipts for this newfangled charge. The answer was no. Right now, an airline rep told me, there are "plans" to give on-board staff hand-held devices for printing receipts by the first quarter of 2009, but for now, they have nothing, and those nebulous "plans" could not be elucidated for me. U.S. Airways' flight attendants also have neither the training or the equipment to write receipts by hand.