April 2004

Icelandair rocks

by Charlie Leocha on April 25, 2004

I haven’t flown on Icelandair since the early ’80s. Back then, Icelandair was the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic. The airline flew stretch DC8s out of Luxembourg with bus connections to about a dozen cities around Europe.

Say you book a nonrefundable flight to Washington, but discover that you’re not really flying to Washington? What if your travel agent refuses to fix it? That’s the problem one reader has when she buys a ticket through discount travel site Hotwire. She discovers her ticket actually goes to Baltimore, some 30 miles from Washington, and she’s disappointed that the site didn’t disclose her actual destination. Did Hotwire screw up, and if so, what does it owe her for the trouble? Find out, plus learn how to avoid getting your wires crossed when it comes to airports.

Have a seat

by James Wysong on April 18, 2004

With the evolution of the seat and the benefit of modern technology, don’t you wonder how the airlines manage to perfect the art of making the seats in economy so uncomfortable?

The low-fare/low-cost airline industry seems to be edging back towards the foolish ways of the majors. JetBlue has always had the best in-flight entertainment and others are trying to emulate it. Frontier, AirTran and America West are all adding business class seating. There are even reports that Southwest is planning some sort of entertainment system on its aircraft.

Remember Murphy’s Law, the rule that says anything that can go wrong will? Ever wonder what would happen if Murphy took a cruise? One reader’s elderly parents, who recently sailed on Carnival’s “Conquest,” have a pretty good idea. First the ship was delayed by an accident. Then it missed several ports of call. And Carnival only offered a 50 percent-off certificate as compensation – not enough to make up for the ruined vacation. Should the cruise line have done more?

Pilots might lie, as I claimed in last week’s column. But so do flight attendants.

The phrase “allow six to eight weeks” is so overused in the travel industry, it’s practically a cliché. But what happens when six weeks becomes nearly two years? That’s the problem one reader has with American Express. In order to process an insurance claim, she needs a denial-of-claim letter from the charge-card company, but for some reason it isn’t budging. Find out what’s going on – and how you can avoid getting the runaround from a travel company.

Passengers demand to know the reasons for a flight delay, especially a mechanical delay. And maybe you can handle the truth, but I know from experience I can’t always stand to listen.

No, no, no

by Christopher Elliott on April 4, 2004

There’s no industry that knows how to say “no” quite like the airlines. Two recent unsolved cases make that abundantly clear. In one, a Northwest Airlines passenger asks the airline to extend the date on her gift certificate. In another, a US Airways passenger is charged $400 in change fees, even though her flight delay is another airline’s fault. Have the airlines been taking lessons from my two-year-old, whose favorite words are “no, no, no”?

It is not safe for Americans to travel overseas. Never has been. Never will be.