Does this blizzard expose the travel industry’s cold heart?

An epic blizzard bearing down on the East Coast of the United States today is forcing passengers to ask difficult questions about compassion and the travel industry that supposedly serves them.
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“I never forgot how kind this hotel was to us”

Kimberly Palmer/Shutterstock
Kimberly Palmer/Shutterstock

I’m researching an article about hotel cancellation policies for the Washington Post, but one of the stories shared by a reader resonated with me so much that I just had to pass it along. It’s another heartwarming, almost too-good-to-be-true tale of customer service.

Last winter, Lauren Staley and her husband were driving from Colorado back to California, where they live. They’d planned to spend the night at the halfway point, in Elko, Nev. But they never made it.

“A huge snowstorm caught us unaware,” she remembers. “We ended up stopped on the Salt Flats [in Utah] for several hours due to an accident, and by the time we got moving again the sun had gone down and the roads were completely iced over.”
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After the storm, who has your refund?

The recent superstorm and series of nor’easters that slammed into the East Coast grounded tens of thousands of travelers, including Neil Weiss.

Fortunately, most travel companies waived their usual rules, offering those delayed by the storms a refund or a credit. But not all travel companies. Weiss, an editor for a trade magazine based in Cherry Hill, N.J., found an unlikely roadblock to his refund: his online travel agency.
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They canceled the flight anyway — can I get a refund?

Here’s a problem I run into every now and then, and which I normally refer back to the airline – which usually tells the passenger “tough luck.”

But this one is a little different. It comes to me by way of Laura Lee, who had made reservations to fly from Sacramento, Calif., to New York on United Airlines for Nov. 6.
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Unnatural disaster: What to do when your hotel doesn’t have room

The deadly storms that left large swaths of the East Coast without power just before the Fourth of July holiday provided an uncomfortable lesson to hotel guests like Ken White: Always call to confirm your reservation — especially when the place you’re visiting is reeling from a natural disaster.

White lives in Charlottesville, Va., an area that was hit hard by the hurricane-force winds. Many residents were struggling to stay cool in record-breaking heat, and checking into an air-conditioned hotel nearby was a popular solution.
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