Why travel companies should spy on you

SMA/Shutterstock
SMA/Shutterstock
It’s probably a matter of weeks, if not days, before yet another round of troubling National Security Agency leak stories hit the news.

I’m sorry to disagree with a majority of Americans who are outraged by their government’s reckless data dragnet, but I think surveillance is good, at least, if you travel.

Airlines, car rental companies and hotels ought to spy on their customers more often. Collecting information about you to improve customer service — and only for that purpose — could return the American travel business to greatness.

Yes, even airlines.
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Privacy? There’s no such thing on the road

Alex KopjeShutterstock
Alex KopjeShutterstock
Recent revelations of the National Security Agency’s sweeping domestic surveillance programs may have angered many Americans, but for most travelers, it was nothing new.

Surrendering your right to privacy is the price you pay to travel anywhere in a post-9/11 world. You fork over your personal information to the airlines, hotels and the Transportation Security Administration with no expectation, much less a guarantee, that it will be kept confidential.

“There is no privacy,” says Tab Stone, a pediatrician from Los Angeles who’s a frequent traveler. “Reservation information is shared with the TSA if you’re on a flight. If you use a credit card to pay, it’s in a database. For years, many other countries have required hotels to hold or copy passports and give the information to the local authorities.”
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No oceanview room – and no refund

Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Jeff Kinsey/Shutterstock
Question: I recently booked a hotel room for a three-night stay at the DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach through Expedia. I opted to pay the higher rate of $239 a night to guarantee a beachfront room. The lower rate of $199 was refundable but would not guarantee the oceanview room.

My husband and I decided it was worth the risk of losing our $800 so that we can have the oceanview. This was risky since we have four small children and anything could have happened to force us to cancel our reservation.

When we arrived at the hotel on Friday, March 2nd, they gave me a landview room and told me that Expedia booked me a landview room. I thought once I called Expedia, the issue would be resolved but after an hour on the phone with a supervisor who was extremely rude, I had no such luck.
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