Weekend what we’re reading: Important hotel amenities, airline credit card perks, most disliked travelers

by Charlie Leocha on December 14, 2013

Photo: Embassy Suites Indianapolis Photo: Embassy Suites Indianapolis


This weekend, we feature a couple of surveys — one about what amenities we like best at hotels and the other about what passengers we like least in planes. We also take a look at the airline credit card wars and how they may affect passengers.

TripAdvisor survey reveals hotel amenities travelers can and can’t do without

Trip Advisor announced the results of the TripBarometer Truth in Travel Survey, which reveals the hotel amenities and services U.S. travelers find most and least important. Do you agree? Which of these amenities would you pay for? Which ones should always be included in the price you pay for the hotel room?

Most important hotel amenities for U.S. travelers

1. Free in-room Wi-Fi (89 percent)
2. Free parking (89 percent)
3. Free breakfast (84 percent)
4. Free personal care items (72 percent)
5. Free lobby Wi-Fi (71 percent)

Least important hotel amenities for U.S. travelers

1. Mini bar (21 percent)
2. Spa/beauty treatments (23 percent)
3. Business center (34 percent)
4. Laundry service (39 percent)
5. Free pool-side Wi-Fi (42 percent)

Airlines’ credit card perks take it on the chin

As airline credit cards become big business, credit card companies are battling each other to gain the upper hand. Affinity cards pour more money back to the airlines, so they are now the preferred cards from the airline point of view and other cards that once provided perks are being squeezed out. According to many experts, airline credit cards are little more than a frequent flier mileage come-on. Few of the miles racked up using the cards can be used for elite qualifications and the mileage value is questionable at best.

Keeping track of travel credit card perks is a chore similar to managing the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament office pool, except you can’t depend on that guy in the office who understands all those complex brackets. You have to do it yourself.

So I was both frustrated and annoyed last week when American Express said that effective in March, my American Express Platinum Card, which has a fee of $450 a year, will no longer get me free access to the airport lounges of American Airlines and US Airways, which have now merged into one giant airline.

What air passengers hate: inattentive parents top seat-kickers
Reuters just reported, “Americans ranked the ‘Inattentive Parent’ as the most annoying type of fellow air traveler, defeating the ‘Rear Seat Kicker,’ ‘The Aromatic Passenger’ and ‘The Boozer,’ according to a list by online travel agent Expedia.com.”

The list, compiled by consulting firm Northstar, ranked the personal annoyances of 1,001 Americans who had flown on an airplane in the past five years.

“Most of us, when we look at the list of offending behaviors, can admit to having committed one or more of the violations,” John Morrey, vice president and general manager of Expedia.com, said in a press release.

Of the respondents, 63 percent said they “often feel annoyed” by parents traveling with noisy children, with 59 percent of those under 35 saying they would pay extra to sit in designated quiet zones if airlines offered them.

Kids’ crying is not the only sound passengers find obnoxious. When asked how they feel about sitting next to talkative passengers, 73 percent said they were filled with “dread.”

While the uproar over using cell phones on planes is cranking up, Southwest Airlines is focused on texting from gate to gate which, from my point of view, is a far more important portion of the communication spectrum. These days, I text far more than I call.

Southwest Airlines is now offering texting to passengers who use iMessage on iPhones with IOS 5 or higher for the introductory price of $2 per flight.

It will offer that capability for Android phones early next year.

The capability is available gate-to-gate.

Currently iPhone users can text using iMessage on any airline that offers in-flight WiFi, but that costs more. In-flight Internet on Southwest, for example, costs $8 per day per device.

Once onboard, customers can switch their phones to “airplane mode” and connect to the Southwest WiFi network. From the WiFi portal home page, Apple users with devices operating iOS 5 or later can select “Messaging” from the “Connect” tab.

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