Commentary

Do seductive frequent flier programs hurt competition?

If you’ve ever done something for the miles, like Rick Brown has, you probably know the dilemma.

Should you shrug off a higher fare, a less convenient routing or consistently bad service for the promise of a “free” flight?

Brown, who runs a trading company in New York, has done all that — sticking with his preferred carrier, United Airlines, even when the airline struggled. He’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on airfares for himself and his family during his career, “more than on any other airline,” he says.

Research suggests many consumers are similarly seduced, and that the siren song of loyalty programs can lure them into booking a substandard product. The debate is particularly intense now, with United’s’ controversial loyalty program changes taking effect this month. It becomes the latest airline to reward customers based on money spent instead of miles flown.
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Special-needs travelers get a helping hand

Think travel is a challenge? Try doing it with a special-needs child.

Jess Wilson knows what that’s like. Her autistic 11-year-old daughter is prone to anxiety attacks when her family is on the road. So Wilson, a disability advocate who lives in Boston, tries to smooth the way with careful planning.

But you can’t anticipate everything. Wilson recalls an unexpected delay on a recent theme-park vacation, which left her family idling at the entrance of Florida’s Magic Kingdom for about an hour.

“For an autistic child like mine,” she says, “it was torture.”
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Let’s set the Wi-Fi free now!

If it’s 2015, then why are hotel guests still doing something so ’90s, like paying extra for an Internet connection?

Charging for wireless access in the 21st century is as silly as it sounds. An Internet connection is so essential, many guests would sooner do without indoor plumbing, electricity or heat in their room. A 2014 survey by Hotels.com found Wi-Fi was the most desirable in-room amenity.
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Uh-oh! Hotel resort fees are on the rise

Don’t look now, but those reviled mandatory resort fees are on the rise — and in places you might not expect.

Orlando is the surprise No. 1 destination for the surcharges, which can cover everything from the hotel gym to a Wi-Fi connection, according to ResortFeeChecker.com, a site that specializes in resort fee data.
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