Soup of the day

Ever wonder about karma and air travel? Once in a while a nasty passenger comes along that gets what he deserves. There is a line between inconvenienced and downright rude. The following is a perfect example. He boarded the aircraft with a growl and a snicker. “I hope your airline goes under and everybody suffers in the unemployment line. It’s just another day with this nickel-and-dime operation.”

Captain Jack

Jack was a new and fairly shy pilot for our airline, and right out of the military. At our pre-flight briefing, everyone could tell by his wide-eyed grin that he was looking forward to our international trip.

“It’s my first time to Amsterdam, and I am bringing along my digital video camera to capture the trip. My buddies in the military will get a kick out of it,” Jack said, like a schoolboy getting ready for “Show and Tell.”

Car insurance confusion

Car-rental surcharges aren’t unusual. Fuel-purchase options or upgrades can add a little extra to the cost of your vehicle. But what if you’re billed nearly $800 more than what you were quoted by the car-rental company? That’s what happens to Jessica Spiegel when she rents a car from Hertz in Europe. The company insists she ordered optional insurance, but she denies it. Is there any hope for a refund? And how do you prevent this from happening to you on your next rental?

Best rate? No guarantee

A lot of hotels promise you’ll find their best rates on their Web sites. But what if you see a better price somewhere else? When one hotel guest tries to make file a claim on a hotel chain’s best-rate guarantee, he finds out how difficult it is to get a hotel to honor its pledge. Impossible, actually. Find out what a best-rate guarantee is worth – and how you can file a successful claim the next time you book a hotel room.

Plane superstitious

Some people need to physically touch the outside of the airplane before boarding. Others won’t travel unless the flight number has one or a combination of certain digits. Through the years I have witnessed many flight superstitions but never quite as interesting as a passenger named Nick.

The future according to Hollywood

Last week the creme de la creme of the online travel industry met at the PhoCusWright Executive Conference in Hollywood. The presidents and CEOs of hundreds of companies who are involved with online travel gathered to learn what to expect in the coming year and to wheel and deal in marathon networking.

Promises, promises

If bad weather grounds your flight on a stopover, what should your airline do to help you? According to most airline contracts, the answer is “nothing.” But after one passenger experiences a string of delays on her way from Memphis to Vail, Colo. – some of them mechanical-related – the airline’s claim that it’s off the hook starts to ring hollow. Now her daughter is stuck with a hotel bill that the airline agreed to pay. Find out who is responsible for what – and how you can prevent this from happening to you on your next flight.


AA (American Airlines) – Always Awful, A Mere Can.

ALITALIA – Air Line In Tokyo And Luggage In Amsterdam, Always Late In Takeoff Always Late In Arrival.

Travel safety ‘experts’

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on – and an eye out for – the competition. So the other day I ran a search on Google for travel safety expert.” The search returned 69 listings, nine of which pointed to columns I’ve written or articles where I’ve been cited. Not a bad percentage I suppose, except that the search also returned 24 listings for Kevin Coffey, my one serious competitor in the corporate travel safety biz. What’s more Coffey captured the top listing as well. (Rats!)

Full hotel, half a room

You booked a standard, double-occupancy room online. But when you check in, the hotel is oversold and you’re offered half a suite and a rollaway bed. Should you get your money back? One upset hotel guest thinks so. Find out what you are – and aren’t – entitled to when your hotel is overbooked and see how this case is resolved. Plus, learn how to get better results when you’ve got a dispute with any travel company.