You know the ding-and-dent car rental scam? Sure you do.
Rent a car, and the agents tell you “not to worry” about the little scratches and bumps on the high-mileage vehicle. But when you return it, they give it a careful once-over and pressure you to sign an incident report, acknowledging you’ll pay whatever repair bill they send you — usually something suspiciously close to your car insurance deductible.
Well, Chelsey Johnson thinks she’s a ding-and-dent victim. Let’s hand the mike over to her to hear her story.
A few months ago, Johnson rented a car from Advantage in Minneapolis. [continue]
The TSA offered Sue Speck an early Christmas present when she checked in for a recent flight from Columbus to Los Angeles: a coveted Precheck designation on her boarding pass, which allowed her to avoid removing her shoes, taking out her laptop and most important, get around the agency’s dreaded full-body scanners when she was screened. Why can’t it do that for everyone? The answer is in my USA Today column.
□ WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I need your resort-fee stories, please
Got any resort-fee horror stories? I’m working on a story about the problem of these mandatory charges, and what we might do to get rid of them in 2014. Have you stayed at a hotel recently that surprised you with a mandatory resort fee for “free” Internet access, exercise facilities, and whatever else not? Do you think these fees should be included in the price of your room? As always, don’t forget include your full name, city and occupation.
That’s the surprise fee Karin Melick-Barthelmess saw on her bill for an American Airlines flight from St. Louis to New York. It was listed as an “American Airlines Internet surcharge,” she says.
One dollar may not sound like a lot, but when American businesses in general — and travel companies in particular — build their entire ventures on fees like that, it is a big deal. (American raked in $266 million in ticket change fees and $255 million in baggage fees during the first half of 2013. It’s on track to collect more than $1 billion in fees for the year, with most of them coming in a few dollars at a time.)
Here’s my prediction for 2014: more nonsense fees. [continue]
Ask travelers what the federal government did for them this year, and you’ll probably get a shrug, at best — or a rant about sequestration, national park closings and the Transportation Security Administration, at worst.
But there’s actually a specific answer: Federal agencies did a lot more than you might think. And, in at least one prominent case, a lot less.
When it comes to consumer protections, two agencies carried much of the water in 2013: the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees airlines and motorcoach safety in the United States, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has a broad jurisdiction ranging from time-share sales to hotels. This year, the U.S. Department of Justice also played a central role in protecting travelers with a halfhearted attempt to block the creation of the nation’s largest airline. [continue]
It’s probably a matter of weeks, if not days, before yet another round of troubling National Security Agency leak stories hit the news.
I’m sorry to disagree with a majority of Americans who are outraged by their government’s reckless data dragnet, but I think surveillance is good, at least, if you travel.
Airlines, car rental companies and hotels ought to spy on their customers more often. Collecting information about you to improve customer service — and only for that purpose — could return the American travel business to greatness.
If you’ve ever traveled on business, then Chris McGinnis’ name is probably synonymous with smart traveling. He’s the co-host of the Friday afternoon #Travelskills chat on Twitter, and has been a columnist, consultant, on-air television commentator and blogger for media outlets ranging from the BBC to Fortune. He publishes two popular business travel blogs, The Ticket, for Atlanta-area road warriors, and the Bay Area Traveler, for business travelers from the San Francisco Bay Area. [continue]