EUROPE

Hidden car rental fees can hurt international travelers – but they don’t have to

We’ve all been there.

You step off the plane after a long flight ready to start your vacation, find your luggage at baggage claim and stride confidently to the rental car desk.

With your prepaid confirmation voucher in hand, you think you’re ready to go. You expect to be handed the keys and ushered into a like-new vehicle that’s two sizes larger than anticipated. You know, the way it happens in commercials.

What happens instead? You’re delayed at the counter. Then you’re hit with additional, unexpected charges.
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The American way of following European consumer protection laws

If I’ve seen Lee Wendkos’s case once, I’ve seen it a hundred times. Delayed on his way from Europe, he tried to invoke EU 261, the legendary and often misinterpreted European consumer protection law. And he failed.

Yes, this feature is called Case Dismissed, but there’s a lot to be learned from our consumer missteps. With the busy summer travel season just around the corner, here’s one lesson you need to take with you: Airlines hate EU 261. Get every promise in writing or you’ll end up with nothing.
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Don’t be a chip-and-pinhead!

If you happen to drive down the Brenner Autobahn between Austria and Italy this summer, here’s a little advice for crossing the wind-whipped Europabrücke, or Europe Bridge: keep a little cash on hand to pay the toll.
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What to do when your river cruise turns into a bus tour

Yiannis/Shutterstock
Yiannis/Shutterstock
It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime for Pat and James Frost — a river cruise in France on the Viking Europe, from Avignon to Chalon-sur-Saône. The retired couple from Concord, Ohio, even added three days in Paris to round off their bucket-list getaway.

But when they arrived at the port, a cruise line representative informed them of a change in plans. Flooding along the Rhône and Saône rivers had made the waterways impassable, and their cruise tour had turned into a bus tour.

“I understand that an act of God causing rain and the rising river isn’t Viking’s fault,” said a disappointed Pat Frost. “But they’ve been cruising this river for years, and I expected that they would have an idea when the river would be navigable.”

All she’d expected was a call to her or her travel agent before she left for France, offering her a chance to re-book the $12,000 cruise.
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Did Carnival do enough for these Destiny passengers?

gary yim / Shutterstock.com
gary yim / Shutterstock.com

Frank and Lucy Pirri are unhappy with their cruise on the Carnival Destiny, and they’re even more unhappy with how the cruise line responded to their complaint.

Sound familiar? Given Carnival’s recent Triumph troubles, it probably does.

But this wasn’t a short island-hopper with a bad ending. We’re talking 18 days in Europe, which was “poorly planned and poorly executed” from start to finish, says Frank Pirri.

How so? Let’s count the ways. (Warning: laundry list ahead.)
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