What do you do if something goes wrong with your TSA screening? Here are a few helpful tips about the agency. Timing is everything when you’ve got a problem with your screening.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, even airlines.
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.
When her hotel is sold unexpectedly, it throws Miriam Ingber’s vacation plans in turmoil. Who should help her fix this problem?
Question: I’m hoping you can help me. My entire extended family booked an expensive vacation at the Veranda Resort in Turks & Caicos for a week. My immediate family had stayed there last spring and we loved it. When we booked it, it was managed by Grace Bay.
We found out less than a week ago that it was being taken over by Beaches, which is owned by Sandals, was being shut down, and they were refunding our deposit (although we haven’t seen a penny of the $16,000 yet).
Beaches would not reimburse us for our flights or any expenses associated with rebooking elsewhere. Our travel insurance also would not pay for any of our expenses.
Sprint promises it will unlock Bill Fuller’s iPhone. Why won’t it?
Question: I have two iPhone 4S smartphones that I bought in 2011 under a two-year contract with Sprint. I made my final contracted monthly payment earlier this month. Both phones are now fully paid for and ostensibly are my property.
Sprint’s service coverage has been largely reduced in my area and I have frequent dropped calls and very low 3G speeds.
I recently received a notice from Sprint that on-network coverage in parts of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, (including along the I-70 Corridor), Southwest Kansas and Oklahoma Panhandle will change to roaming (off-network). Customers with Sprint-branded devices will be impacted when using services in the affected areas.