You said it: Virgin America is “thinking outside the box”

I‘ve written about Virgin America several times in the recent past, and have even had a chance to fly with it.

Despite the occasional glitch, I think it would be fair to call me a fan of the airline.

I’m not alone. Here’s a note from reader Jeff Allen. He works for an engineering firm in Boston, and decided to give Virgin America a try for his weekly commutes to LAX.

“I fly a lot,” he says. “These folks at Virgin seem to have figured some stuff out that is really interesting.”
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Can this trip be saved? Email scam cost me $6,600 — can you get it back?

Think you’ll never fall for one of those email scams — you know, the ones where someone hijacks a friend’s Gmail account and pretends to be a traveler in distress?

Well, if you think you’re too smart to become a victim, think again. Carlo has a doctorate in math, and I’ve agreed to use only his first name, because he lost four months’ salary just before Christmas to this electronic swindle.

“I wouldn’t like to be publicly known as a dupe in my school,” he says.

Carlo wants to know: Is the money gone forever? Or can I help him recover some of it?

I’m fascinated by how this crime unfolded. For the first time ever, a victim has allowed me to republish the entire correspondence between himself and the perpetrator, in its entirety. (One thing to note is that English isn’t Carlo’s first language.)
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So who really socks it to ya with fees? Airline and hotel complaints, compared

The following exercise is highly unscientific, journalistically questionable, yet somewhat entertaining. In trying to determine which industry is socking to travelers with fees in the worst possible way, it’s down to two contenders: airlines and hotels.

(Yes, car rental companies have a place in this discussion. As do cruise lines. But I’ll get to them soon enough.)

So I decided to query my “in” box, which contains all of the complaints I receive. And here’s where it gets a little unscientific — my email also contains all of my other correspondence, which includes my interviews of experts and sources on the topic.

I’ll let that slide.

Anyway, the results are pretty revealing.
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Overbilled for my Venice hotel — where’s my travel agent?

Shannon Stark’s mother is about to leave for Venice, but there’s a little problem with her trip. Someone overcharged her by $400 for her accommodations, and she’d like to get that taken care of before her vacation begins.

Seems like a reasonable request. But finding the right person to talk to about the overbilling issue at her Northern California AAA office hasn’t been easy.
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