January 2004

Flying with the senator

by Charlie Leocha on January 28, 2004

I’m sitting on a Northwest Airlines Airbus A319 way in the back, squeezed into row 17. I’m on my way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for an editorial meeting of the contributors to my ski and snowboard guidebook, Ski Snowboard America & Canada.

When you book a hotel room on the Web, but your online agency fails to make a reservation, what recourse do you have? That’s the question asked by a reader who buys a hotel through Travelocity and ends up with nothing but a credit-card bill. Even though the dot-com agency helps her find a new room, she’s still left with the charge – and a maddening amount of paperwork. Find out what happens next.

If you book a cabin with three beds, but only get two, what does your cruise line owe you? That’s the question one reader asks after her travel agent promises her a big cabin on her Caribbean cruise. But when she and her family board Carnival’s Destiny she discovers no third bed in her room. What’s going on?

What if you book a flight online and your credit-card company bills you for it, but you never get a ticket? That’s what happens to a traveler who buys a ticket for her daughter on Spirit Airlines. Her credit card charges her, but Spirit has no record of the transaction. Find out what happens when she discovers the “ghost” reservation and learn what you can do to prevent the same thing from happening the next time you book an airline ticket online.

Old tricks won’t work

by Charlie Leocha on January 11, 2004

The machinations of the major airlines as they find themselves facing escalating competition from Southwest, JetBlue, AirTran and Frontier on their bread and butter routes is disheartening. Once again, the majors are continuing to offer below cost airfares, mileage goodies and free flights to entice passengers to stick with the old-line carriers. Triple-mile deals here and a buy-two-fly-free here used to work, but not any more.

If your car-rental company offers you a smaller vehicle than you reserved, do you pay less for it? Not necessarily. The Travel Troubleshooter unravels the case of a reader who is billed $310 more after accepting a downgrade on a Sixt rental in Milan, Italy. He also details her 14-month odyssey to get her money back and offers tips on how to keep the same thing from happening to you.