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This week’s poll
Which grade would you give airline customer service in 2007? Vote now.

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Tripso Columns

Frequent-flier foolishness
Frequent-flier programs can certainly benefit frequent travelers. But sometimes travelers get so caught up in the game that they make foolish mistakes. This is especially true of only-occasional travelers, who may not benefit from frequent-flier programs at all. Charlie Leocha gives seven tips for avoiding frequent-flier trouble. (Charles Leocha)

Too many pesos for my room
Bernard Horwath is quoted a room rate of $425 a night at a Mexican resort. But when he checks out, he’s in for an unpleasant surprise: $276 in additional charges because of currency conversions from dollars to pesos. His agency, American Express Platinum Travel, tells him the extras are his responsibility. But are they? (Christopher Elliott)

Travelers’ hotel reviews: Are they helpful?
Online hotel reviews — we’ve all seen them. One guest complains that his oatmeal was cold, another praises the towels in the sauna. With a click of a mouse, some guy from Schenectady becomes an expert on hotels in Hamburg. Are these reviews really worth your while? Joel Widzer weighs in. (Joel Widzer)

Making a scene at the airport
Have the frustrations of air travel ever made you see red? Have you ever crossed the line and gone really berserk? Many have, and I am not talking about just the psychopaths or the easily irritated; I’m talking about your average housewife, businessman and vacationer. Given the right provocation, even your granny could make a scene at the airport. (James Wysong)

Botox… no more laugh lines at sea?
Last year, passengers on the big three cruise lines spent $4.4 billion for onboard extras like premium wines, gourmet dining and spa treatments. All that money has cruise executives salivating for new ideas to generate more revenue. At a recent cruise convention, industry insiders talked about new dining and wine offerings, targeted sales promotions and exotic spa therapies. But the big bomb was Botox. Is it coming to a cruise ship near you? (Anita Dunham-Potter)

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This week in travel

WHO: Air travelers should exercise
The World Health Organization recommended Friday that passengers on long flights exercise their legs and resist taking sleeping pills to reduce the risk of potentially fatal blood clots.

Northwest blames pilots for cancellations
Acrimony between Northwest Airlines pilots and management may be to blame for hundreds of canceled flights in recent days, but analysts say the airline needs to resolve the situation quickly to avoid further damage to its reputation.

State Dept. issues plea for help with passport backlog
The State Department has issued an urgent plea to its diplomats worldwide to help clear the backlog of 3 million passport applications.

Northwest’s flight cancellations surge
Northwest Airlines has canceled more than 850 flights in the past week, mostly because of crew shortages that management blames on disrupted work schedules from past bad weather. But pilots blame it on bad planning.

Customer service a casualty of U.S. airline recovery
As frustrated as travelers may be with crowded planes and delayed flights, these are the realities of the leaner U.S. airline industry as it claws its way back to profitability after a brutal years-long slump.

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