Please cancel my nonrefundable hotel room, Priceline

Nuno/Shutterstock
Nuno/Shutterstock
Tami Alloway needs to cancel her hotel stay because of “extenuating” personal circumstances. Just one problem: the reservations are non-refundable.

Question: I recently reserved a hotel room at the Hawthorn Suites in Charleston, SC, through Priceline for a family trip with my mother. A few days later, my sister’s children were removed from their home and taken into state custody. I was awarded foster care for all three of them and they have been with me since then.

The older children, prior to removal, were homeschooled, so the dates of the trip were not an issue. With them being in my care, they are now in public schooling. The children range in age from 22 months through 9 years of age.

When we realized that the time frame would mean I would still have the children with me in March (and not during spring break, so they would miss a week of school), I called to cancel the reservation and was told there is no refund, even in extreme situations.
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Want to double your travel pleasure? Cut your itinerary in half

Sailing with the family. Eileen Ogintz (center) with her family in the British Virgin Islands. From left to right, with husband Andy Yemma, son Matt Yemma, daughters Melanie and Regina Yemma and Regina's fiance, Dan Foldes.
Sailing with the family. Eileen Ogintz (center) with her family in the British Virgin Islands. From left to right, with husband Andy Yemma, son Matt Yemma, daughters Melanie and Regina Yemma and Regina’s fiance, Dan Foldes.

Eileen Ogintz started traveling with her kids Matt, Melanie and Regina, when they were babies, and she never looked back. She took her children everywhere, from exploring the Galapagos, to hiking in Montana, to sailing the Caribbean. Along the way, she not only created the popular syndicated column Taking the Kids and a travel guidebook series written for children, but also became a role model for other families who want to give their offspring the gift of travel. Ogintz sees herself as a bridge-builder, showing families how they can get there and “helping the travel industry appreciate and better meet the needs of family travelers.” Her latest project is co-creating a series of conferences which bring together those who write, blog and influence family travel.
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Lufthansa stranded my 16-year-old son in Detroit

Carolina Smith/Shutterstock
Carolina Smith/Shutterstock
It’s something out of every mother’s worst nightmare: Your child is stranded at the airport and won’t be able to fly home unless he forks over thousands of dollars for a new ticket.

That nightmare came true for Gloria Castillo-Ibrahim and her 16-year-old son, Kareem Amir Gharib, recently. They’re inexperienced air travelers, but in a way, nothing could have prepared them for the trouble they experienced.

Castillo-Ibrahim wants me to help her fix this problem, but I’m not really sure if I can, or if I should. Your thoughts on this case would be helpful.

The problem began when Castillo-Ibrahim’s husband decided to surprise her son for Christmas by booking two roundtrip tickets from Cairo to Detroit on Lufthansa’s website.
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Should fee-hungry airlines profit from your kids?

Chungking/Shutterstock
Chungking/Shutterstock
How far would airlines go to collect a few more bucks from you? If nothing would surprise you anymore, then you should hear Hesha Duggirala’s story.

Earlier this year, she booked a summer vacation to Europe for her family of four on United Airlines using frequent flier miles. As a reminder, having lots of frequent flier miles suggests you’re a loyal, and valued, customer.

“The representative who helped us told us that since our youngest child would be under two years when we began the trip he could be ticketed as a lap child,” she says. Duggirala gave the agent her son’s birthdate to verify that he was, indeed, a lap child.
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Who’s responsible for those little brats on a plane?

Alexei Losevich/Shutterstock
Alexei Losevich/Shutterstock
When kids misbehave on a plane, adults like to play the blame game. Who’s responsible for the little brats: the kids, the negligent parents, or the laissez-fare airline?

That’s what Claire Muller-Moseley, a college professor from San Francisco, wanted to know after enduring a recent Air France flight from Paris to San Francisco. And it’s a timely question, given the recent report of a family who was removed from a United Airlines flight amid a disagreement about the inflight entertainment choices.

“The yelling, screaming, and seat kicking of the two children seated behind us was not once stopped by the parents,” she remembers. “I issued disapproving glances over the back of my seat several times, without the parents’ reaction or effort to stop the ear-piercing vocalizations and bad behavior.”
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Does JetBlue owe her anything for amorous passenger incident?

Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
To say that Cristi Mitchell felt uncomfortable on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Phoenix to Boston might be something of an understatement.

During the redeye flight, an amorous couple seated across from her partner and her 8-year-old son engaged in several sex acts. No need to go into details, but let’s just say they covered every angle.

“I was shocked and really uncomfortable,” she said. When she mentioned the behavior to a flight attendant, the crewmember tried to stop the copulating passengers.
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Airline seat fees separate mom from five-year-old twins

Ever since airlines added new economy-class seat reservation fees, they’ve insisted that the new charges would not lead to families with young kids being separated.

And I believed it — until I heard from Vicki Wallace.

Wallace was flying from Philadelphia to San Diego on US Airways recently, when the fees led to her being separated from her five-year-old twins, she says.
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