July 2004

When you’re a no-show at a hotel because of an airline delay, who’s responsible for your room? That’s the question one traveler has after he and his family are delayed on their way to Boston. The airline won’t cover the cost of his accommodations. Neither will Hotels.com, the agency he booked it through. Who’s to blame? And how can you prevent it from happening to you?

You’re checking into a hotel for a long-overdue family vacation. But when you get to the front desk, a rude hotel clerk informs you your rate has gone up by $70 a night. The reason? You’re traveling with two kids. When that happens to one traveler, she asks to see a manager. But instead of finding a resolution, the executive kicks her family out of the hotel, saying she doesn’t want any “unhappy guests” staying at the property. To make matters worse, Priceline won’t refund her money, either. What’s a homeless hotel guest to do?

There’s probably no such thing as a perfect vacation. That’s because travel rarely goes as you planned it. Your hotel bill is slipped under your door with a surprise surcharge. Your luggage is lost. Or your cruise is ruined when you’re infected by a painful gastrointestinal virus. Believe me, I know. Not only have I experienced these problems firsthand (yes, I caught the Norwalk virus on a recent cruise). But as this column’s author, I’ve also helped travelers like you solve these snafus when they crop up – reversing the fees, getting compensation for your misplaced luggage, and at the very least, securing an apology for catching a pesky food-borne illness.

Low-fare lies

by Charlie Leocha on July 2, 2004

We’ve all seen the tables of “lowest air fares” in the Sunday papers. I remember using them regularly. But I’ve never really examined them for accuracy. I always assumed they were a true listing of low fares. Not so. They’re often flat out wrong.

No excuse

by Christopher Elliott on July 2, 2004

It was the kind of hotel that Basil Fawlty, the inept innkeeper from the TV show “Fawlty Towers,” would have been proud of. Snippy service. Peeling paint. No running water in the shower. But it wasn’t the sort of room anyone would pay $146 a night for. When one guest does, she asks Orbitz, the travel agency she booked it through, to remove the charges. When she doesn’t get a response, she asks for help. Find out what you’re owed if your hotel visit isn’t up to your standards – and how you can spot a bad hotel when you book online.