Vegas hotel + opaque site + resort fee = T-R-O-U-B-L-E

What do you get when you put a Las Vegas hotel, a mandatory resort fee and an opaque Web site together? If you said “trouble,” you’re absolutely correct.

Ben Huynh made a bid on a Priceline hotel in Las Vegas recently. He got the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, but he also was charged an additional, mandatory $15-a-night resort fee. He appealed to Priceline for a refund, but it turned him down, saying that the fee had been adequately disclosed in its terms and conditions.

Depending on the city and property you stay in, you may also be charged resort fees or other incidental fees, such as parking charges. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout. When you check in, a credit card or, in the hotel’s discretion, a debit card will be required to secure these charges and any incidental fees (phone calls, room service, movie rentals, etc.) that you may incur during your stay.

Huynh wanted to know if that was Priceline’s final answer.
Continue reading…

47 Comments


TSA orders pat-down of all passengers during boarding

The Transportation Security Administration has ordered airlines to perform a manual pat-down screening of all passengers on inbound international flights, “concentrating on upper legs and torso,” according to a memo sent to US Airways employees. The search must be performed by airline personnel during the boarding process, in addition to the regular screening at the checkpoint.

The TSA, meanwhile, has said nothing about its new security measures — either on its site, blog or Twitter feed — in the last 24 hours. However, an administration official confirmed earlier today that the president had ordered a review of airline screening procedures.

Here’s the full text of the memo, which was sent to crewmembers this morning:
Continue reading…

56 Comments


Flying in the snow: 6 lessons for coping with winter-weather delays

Last weekend’s blizzard was a warning to air travelers: Winter is only starting, and when bad weather moves in, your flight schedule isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Nicholas Holland learned that when he tried to fly from Reagan National Airport in Washington to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a Christmas party on Dec. 18. US Airways canceled his original flight and rescheduled him with a connection through Cleveland. But when a record snowstorm slammed Washington on Saturday, US Airways canceled the new flight, too.
Continue reading…

4 Comments


Two-faced TSA ticks off air travelers: Here’s what you need to know

No wonder we’re so confused. The Transportation Security Administration is telling airlines one thing, and it’s telling us another.

“Passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a prepared statement yesterday. “These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere. Due to the busy holiday travel season, both domestic and international travelers should allot extra time for check-in.”

Meanwhile, the TSA has been busy ordering airlines to take specific actions (Emergency Amendment EA 1546-09-01, which I can’t confirm or deny that I have received from several sources). The interpretation of this order is certain to inconvenience travelers. Airlines have already turned off their in-flight entertainment systems, forced passengers to remain in their seats an hour before landing, taken away pillows and blankets and limited the use of electronic devices and in-flight wireless Internet connections.

Worse, TSA hasn’t said a word about these directives to the flying public, despite repeated requests for comment.

It’s as if TSA is operating in a parallel universe: In one, everything is just fine; in another, it’s having a kneejerk reaction not unlike the kind the government had after 9/11, when it federalized airport screeners. Based on some of the comments I’m getting from air travelers, I’d say no one is happy with this duplicitous behavior.

Here’s what we know so far:
Continue reading…

32 Comments


The unofficial guide to traveling in 2010

The unofficial guide to traveling in 2010


Steph Ulyett’s airline ticket should have said “Stephanie” of course, but she’s always gone by Steph, so that’s the name her partner typed into Expedia when he reserved their flights to Chicago.

Unfortunately, a commonly misunderstood Transportation Security Administration initiative called Secure Flight, almost made her miss her plane. At least that’s what she thought. A new government rule says the name you use when buying your ticket must match your ID — which Ulyett’s did not.
Continue reading…

4 Comments


I canceled my room — where’s my refund?

Question: I hope you can help me. I booked a hotel through Hotels.com recently. It was the first time I’ve used them, and it will be my last.

I had a two-night stay in Sedona, Ariz., at $105 a night. I had to cancel one of the nights, so I called Hotels.com and spoke with a woman who was very difficult to understand. She kept putting me on hold and seemed as if she didn’t know what she was doing. I thought I had canceled the room, but when I got my credit card bill, I noticed a charge for two nights, for a total of $228.

I wrote to Hotels.com, asking it to adjust my charges. I received a letter from the hotel stating that they showed no record of the cancellation, and that we were listed as a “no-show” for the second night. Can you help me with this? — Elaine Farkas, Parma Heights, Ohio

Answer: If Hotels.com canceled your room, you shouldn’t have been charged. But according to the online travel agency’s records, your room wasn’t canceled.

So what happened? I contacted Hotels.com to find out.
Continue reading…

10 Comments