What you need to know before returning to tourist sites after disasters

Bad things can happen to good places. Read more “What you need to know before returning to tourist sites after disasters”

Echoes of WWII — and a loud explosion or two — on a Southern road trip

There’s a moment in an historical re-enactment when you start to question reality. Read more “Echoes of WWII — and a loud explosion or two — on a Southern road trip”

A decade after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is back

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is back.
Read more “A decade after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is back”

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?
Read more “This “historic” stay was an epic disaster”

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.
Read more “This volunteer vacation to New Orleans ended on a bad note”

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.
Read more “Should the TSA pat down kids?”

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