Just following orders

What’s travel insurance worth? If you booked your airline ticket through Priceline and Uncle Sam comes calling, not much. Even though one traveler takes out a cancellation policy to cover a possible change in his fiance’s schedule, the site won’t budge after he’s redeployed. Should it? How can you prevent this from happening to you? And what, exactly, is in the fine print of those insurance policies?

Gender air

He was Michael by day and Michelle by night. Our airline had hired him as a male and would not recognize his preference to be female until specific surgery was completed.

Virgin’s artificial reality

We’ve all seen those airline ads that tout splendid service. They’re good for a few laughs. But the rhetoric in the magazines and on TV never seems to match the reality in the sky. Normally, this disconnect is something that I let roll off my back. It has never really bothered me. Until recently.

Lost my rental in a hurricane

Opaque travel Web sites like Hotwire offer deep discounts on everything from airline tickets to rental cars. But there’s a tradeoff: the purchases are completely nonrefundable. Or are they? When one traveler is held up by a hurricane, she finds her travel agent and airline bending backwards to accommodate her. Shouldn’t Hotwire do the same? Find out if the site will reschedule her car rental or pocket the $105.19 she spent on the vehicle, even though she couldn’t use it.

Stupid slogans

Travel industry advertising is a joke. Who is coming up with all of these stupid slogans, anyway?

A burning question

Being awakened in a hotel in the middle of the night by the sound of a fire alarm is nothing new–certainly nothing new to me. Over the years, I’ve evacuated a dozen hotels in three countries in response to fire alarms. Sure, most of the alarms turned out to be false, but four–four!–were the real deal: Lights, sirens, fire trucks, firefighters, smoke and flames! There were no casualties in the fires I escaped, but people did die in other hotel fires during those years.

In-flight survivor

What if you had to live on airplane food for a full year? Sound like a fate worse than death? I know of one crewmember who tried.

Aspen on the cheap

Winter is approaching, and that can only mean one thing: Ski and snowboard season is almost here. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I have my reasons. I’m the author of Ski Snowboard America and Canada, the most comprehensive guide to major ski and snowboard resorts in North America, as well as Ski Snowboard Europe, which covers the top European resorts.