Ken Middleton and his girlfriend were flying back to the mainland after enjoying a vacation in Hawaii. At least, they were supposed to be. But their US Airways flight was canceled because of a mechanical problem and they were rebooked on a flight 24 hours later.
Ah, 24 extra hours in Hawaii. What to do? I can think of a few things.
It’s been five short years since the airline industry, led by an ailing American Airlines, quietly stripped the ability to check your first bag at no extra cost from the price of an airline ticket — an act given the antiseptic name “unbundling.”
At about this time in 2008, passengers were beginning to adjust to a new reality, as other airlines eagerly joined in separating their luggage fees from base fares. Now, they’ve finally accepted the fee revolution, according to most experts.
An airline ticket doesn’t have to include a “free” bag or a meal, no more than a hotel room should come with the ability to use the hotel’s exercise facilities, or your rental should cover the cost of a license plate. And that’s the way it should be, they say.
Seth Elsen receives a mysterious $250 charge on his credit card after staying at a La Quinta hotel. Now the property’s general manager is hiding from him, he says. Can he get a refund?
Question: I recently stayed at a La Quinta Inn and Suites in Walla Walla, Wash., with two guests. We were there one night, and everything went fine.
Two nights after I checked out, I noticed a $250 charge on my credit card, in addition to the $100 fee for the room. I called, talked with an assistant manager, and was told that it was a smoking charge, and that I needed to talk to the general manager about it.
I asked when she’d be in, and was told the next morning. I didn’t get a call back. I called again during the weekend, talking to other front desk people, trying to find out when the manager would be in. [continue]
If shelling out $10 for a small bag of M&Ms makes you feel a little scammed, then you’ll love the hotel industry’s latest trend: closing its in-room minibars.
Those tiny refrigerators, armed with sensors that seem to detect when you gaze longingly at the overpriced Pringles or chilled Diet Cokes, are doing a disappearing act. It’s about time.
During the latest round of hotel renovations, these so-called guest “conveniences” are reportedly being unplugged and unceremoniously wheeled away at a growing number of hotels. For example, when the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans upgraded its guest rooms last year, the minibars were shown the door and replaced by regular refrigerators. Some Hyatt properties, including the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, did away with theirs years ago.
But did they go far enough? Simply carting away these money traps, one by one, won’t work. [continue]
Somewhere between a booster stool at the check-in desk and a DJ spouting profanities at the kids’ pool lies the definition of a “family-friendly” resort. No one seems to agree. Maybe it’s time we did.
Let’s start with that step stool, which I saw at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s check-in desk a few months ago. Fairmont is known for catering to its littlest visitors, but I’d never seen a booster before. It allows youngsters to come eye-to-eye with a check-in clerk while Mom and Dad register.
The step-ups were also in the lobby bathrooms. When I told one of the hotel employees that my kids, who were traveling with me, thought the furniture was “really cool,” she shrugged as if to say, “Doesn’t every resort do it like this?” [continue]
A two-night stay at the Driftwood Inn in Chestertown, Md., was supposed to cost Bruce Romano $138 through a Web site called HotelPlus Destination Portal, as long as he prepaid for his accommodations. That seemed like a good deal. After all, it was Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel times of the year.
But it didn’t make sense to the Driftwood Inn, a budget hotel that decorates its rooms with flotsam and other artifacts pulled from the Atlantic. An employee claimed that the hotel didn’t know much about Romano’s reservation when he checked in.
“When I arrived at the Driftwood Inn, they had my name but insisted that I needed to pay them directly,” says Romano, who works for the federal government in Washington, “and at a higher rate.”
He coughed up an additional $157 for his room, paying twice for the same accommodations. [continue]
Although Vivian Olds’ customer-service problem is pretty common, the solution isn’t.
This spring, she made a reservation at an independent motel in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. If you’ve ever been to this part of California, you probably know that it’s beautiful, but that the quality of accommodations can be variable.
Olds reserved a room at a hotel that was on the not-so-good side of that variable. She prepaid $148 for a motel that, once she tried to check in, she discovered was “totally unsuitable.” [continue]