This “historic” stay was an epic disaster

Somchi/Shutterstock
Somchi/Shutterstock
The historic Rathbone Mansion offers an “authentic” New Orleans experience, with its antebellum architecture and “warm” Southern hospitality. But it was a little too authentic for Cori Maldonado, who reserved his rooms through Bookit.com.

“Our room was strewn with debris, insects and rodents,” he says. “My partner and I were forced to leave the property and check in elsewhere after management refused to move us.”

A hotel representative scoffed at the guests, chiding them because, “Two grown men could not kill a few bugs.”

Then again, isn’t that what you hire exterminators to do?
Continue reading…

52 Comments


This volunteer vacation to New Orleans ended on a bad note

Erik Szabo is “livid.”

Last spring, he was schedule to fly from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. He’d booked a package tour, which included airline tickets, hotel and car rental, through Hotwire.

“When I showed up at the airport for my US Airways flight, I was told that my reservation was for a United Airlines flight,” he says.

Ah, another case of codeshare confusion? Yes, but that’s not all.
Continue reading…

141 Comments


Should the TSA pat down kids?

Should the TSA pat down kids?

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you should. This is six-year-old Anna Drexel getting a pat-down in New Orleans earlier this month. The TSA is taking a lot of heat for the rather thorough screening of this young lady.

Alright, maybe TSA Administrator John Pistole’s reaction was a little inappropriate, calling the screener to basically congratulate her on a job well done.

And maybe the TSA’s overall response was somewhat predictable: Defend something that, for many parents, is indefensible, and then admit that it’s wrong — although not in so many words.
Continue reading…

97 Comments


Can this trip be saved? Cheated by half a star on my New Orleans hotel

Half a star may not sound like much to the average hotel guest, particularly when there are no nationally-recognized hotel rating standards in the United States. But it means the world to Sandi Tanner, who is planning her 20th wedding anniversary in New Orleans.

Hotwire offered her a pre-paid, nonrefundable room at The Inn on Bourbon, which TripAdvisor gives three stars and AAA rates as three-diamond. Even Hotwire gives it a three-star rating at the time of her booking.

Just one problem: She paid for a 3.5-star room.

Now, before you say, “What’s half a star among friends?” consider what fudging half a star rating can mean to a business. Putting guests in slightly cheaper hotels can translate into millions of dollars of additional revenue per year. It’s like skimming a little off the top. It adds up.

Tanner, though disappointed, at first did what the average hotel guest would do: she went along with it.

“I would take the hotel,” she told me. “But it won’t work with me. The woman I spoke with had a very uncaring attitude even when I explained the situation. On the hotel’s own website they are still offering non-smoking king rooms, but according to her they are out of them. How is this possible?”

A downgraded hotel, forced to stay in a smoking room for her 20th anniversary. There’s got to be a better way, right?
Continue reading…

84 Comments


Blocked from checking in – but charged anyway

quarterQuestion: I don’t know where else to turn. I recently booked a room at the Holiday Inn French Quarter-Chateau Lemoyne in New Orleans through its central reservations phone number.

When I arrived, the New Orleans Police Department had the entire block closed off. I immediately called the hotel and told a manager I couldn’t access the hotel. He said he did not know when the blockade would be lifted and couldn’t help get my car or luggage to the hotel.

He couldn’t cancel my reservation because I had made it through Holiday Inn’s central reservations number. After several more attempts to reach the hotel, he agreed to help me cancel my reservation. I stayed at another hotel that night.

Three days later, a $113 charge appeared on my credit card from the Holiday Inn. I disputed the charge, but they told me I couldn’t get a refund because I could not prove that they refused me the room. When I called guest relations they said they needed a cancellation number before they would consider a refund. Otherwise the hotel itself would need to reverse the charge. When I call the hotel, I get only voicemail. Can you help? — Gabriel Medina, Elk Grove, Calif.

Answer: If a hotel representative says your reservation is canceled, you shouldn’t be charged for your stay.

But a review of your correspondence raises a few red flags. First, a manager told you that it was impossible for him to cancel a reservation made through Holiday Inn’s 800-number. Then, a few minutes later, the same manager agrees to “help” you cancel the reservation.
Continue reading…

4 Comments