Ask any frequent traveler if the travel industry is fair. You’ll likely hear a litany of complaints: Travel companies routinely charge you for services they don’t have to deliver, punish you with onerous restrictions and flout the time-honored rules of American business. And now, travelers are pushing back.
It was a random thought at the end of a recent column about unfriendly TSA agents. “I wonder if the rude agent is a reflection of an even ruder traveler,” mused David Kazarian, a pharmacist from Tampa.
It started a debate with a real purpose.
“I’m weary of those entitled passengers who are continuously whining and complaining,” says Lisa Thomas, a veteran flight attendant based in Denver. “I feel like telling them, ‘Take some responsibility for your choices.’ ”
Thomas’s comments, made to me after a recent column about the rise of fees in the travel industry, triggered a fascinating debate. Many travelers say that they think fees are out of control, particularly in the airline business. The top 10 airlines collected more than $28 billion in revenue from extra fees and services last year, up from about $2 billion a decade ago, according to a recent study by the consulting firm IdeaWorks.
At the same time, many in the industry say that they think people are getting exactly what they paid for: a quality product at a ridiculously low price. Industry employees like Thomas suggest that travelers have become spoiled.
Imagine a world where your cruise line or airline pays you if it fails to keep its schedule, you aren’t penalized for a canceled reservation if your hotel is able to resell the room and ticket change fees are related to the actual cost of changing your flight schedule.
Maybe you’ve heard about Jason Puerner, or someone like him. Puerner, a transportation planner from Lakewood, Colo., says he recently rented a Chevrolet Cruze with a pre-existing scratch from Enterprise. After returning the vehicle, he refused to cough up $412 for repairs and ended up on the company’s infamous “Do Not Rent” list.
The travel industry seems to always have its hand out — sometimes literally.
Derrick Lawson had been looking far and wide for an airline ticket from Atlanta to Bangkok when he contacted me in exasperation.
You may have heard about Friday’s attack on a hotel in Egypt, an event that is unfortunately becoming all the more common.
So what happens behind the scenes in the travel industry when an attack or other disaster takes place?
Haven’t smokers suffered enough already? You can’t help but wonder when you talk with someone like Efrin Knight, a French professor from Miami who enjoys an occasional cigar.