Costa Concordia sinking leaves other cruise ship passengers alarmed — and out of luck

The tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship last week is leaving a line of worried passengers in its wake. Betty Westbrook is among them. The retiree from Allen, Tex., called me hours after the ship sank off the Italian coast, hoping that I could help her. “What are my chances for a refund?” she asked.

Westbrook believes that had she been aboard the cruise liner, she might have been a casualty. “I’m 82, and I couldn’t have made it off the ship without help,” she says. Reading about the Concordia crew’s alleged unpreparedness for disaster has made her nervous about her February cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Magic.
Read more “Costa Concordia sinking leaves other cruise ship passengers alarmed — and out of luck”

Will this be the year for passenger rights?

The travel industry doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation for keeping its promises.

That’s true not just of the lofty low-price guarantees that some hotels offer but hedge with lawyerly fine print. It also applies to something as seemingly straightforward as an airline sticking to its published schedule. (Check the contract; it isn’t required to.)

So travelers might be forgiven for having been a little skeptical last year when they were promised help in the form of long-overdue government regulation and laws that would compel airlines to treat them better and tell the truth about their fares.

Maybe it’s a statement about the process, but the most commented-upon proposed rule had practically nothing to do with enhancing consumer protections. It was a new regulation to limit the consumption of peanuts on a plane.

“It was really amazing,” said Cynthia Farina, a professor of law at Cornell University, which helped create the site Regulationroom.org to collect consumer comments. “We had more comments on that than on all the rest – combined.”
Read more “Will this be the year for passenger rights?”