How to avoid a long wait at the car rental counter

If you rent a car this summer, don’t forget to pack your patience.
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Thanks to Travelocity, I’ll never make Silver Elite

Chris Joseph’s flight doesn’t get booked the right way on Travelocity. Can his ticket be fixed?
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Should airline extend elite benefits for soldier in war zone?

Airlines offer waivers of their often incomprehensible rules all the time. Robert Lytle wants this to be one of the times, and he’d like me to help him make it so.
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Can you fix American Airlines’ loyalty program?

Joyce Zaritsky’s case is almost certainly impossible to solve. But you know me – I’m a sucker for seemingly intractable problems.
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Read this before you sign up for a loyalty program

luchnyu/Shutterstock
luchnyu/Shutterstock
For years, consumer advocates like me have been warning consumers like you that loyalty programs aren’t the “win-win” propositions companies claim they are.

To which loyalty program apologists, whose judgment is too often distorted by the intoxicating Kool-Aid of points and miles, countered: Prove it!

Well, now we have that proof.

A new study of hotel frequent-guest programs suggests that, far from costing companies money, the programs increase their share of room nights by anywhere from 150 percent to 500 percent. Just over 7 of 10 guests purchased at least one additional room night with real money, according to the study by Phoenix Marketing International.
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Why loyalty programs are dead — and why that’s good news for almost everyone

Gui Jun Pen/Shutterstock
Gui Jun Pen/Shutterstock

Loyalty programs as we know them are dead.

After years of playing the game, frequent customers like John Peppin are saying, “enough is enough.”

Peppin, the director of a medical center in Lexington, Ky., said he wondered about the endless bait and switch airlines pull — demanding absolute loyalty in order to be treated with a little dignity.

He often flies to China on American Airlines, to which he has given his business in exchange for the possibility of an upgrade to business class.
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Weekend survey: Are airline mileage programs worth it?

We had some interesting news last week, with Delta Air Lines’ announcement that its miles wouldn’t expire, and before that, Southwest Airlines’ loyalty program changes.

The subject also was brought to my attention by a recent article reminding all of us that you could buy your way into US Airways’ program as an elite.

Does this change anything? Are you more likely to give your loyalty to an airline, as opposed to shopping around for the best fares and booking your flight based on price and schedule?

Full disclosure: I’m not neutral on the topic of loyalty programs — I think they do more harm than good. But I wonder if the recent changes have changed the dynamic, and whether more frequent travelers will participate in a program.
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