Where’s the best place to drive — and the worst? Here’s the list

Where’s the best place to drive? Dave Fortney loves to drive in Greensboro, N.C. The roads are impeccably maintained, uncrowded and, well, fun.
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And the most annoying passenger on the plane is …

Here we go again. Expedia is out with yet another survey on the most annoying passengers on a plane.

It’s a predictable effort to capitalize on the upcoming holiday travel season (here’s last year’s survey and the 2013 poll).
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Do Americans really make 15 million “bogus” hotel reservations a year?

At first glance, the results of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s latest survey look alarming: American travelers make approximately 15 million “bogus” hotel bookings a year — far more than the 2.5 million reservations previously believed to have been made through what the organization calls “rogue” affiliates sites.
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What do airline passengers really want — besides a good fare?

What’s the first thing you look for in an airline ticket?

If you said, “a low price,” you’re absolutely right. In a survey of air travelers conducted last week, 77 percent said they consider the fare first.

But airlines have used that answer to justify cutting customer service and “unbundling” prices — removing everything but a base fare — without asking the simple question: What else do you want?

So we decided to dig a little deeper. In a survey of more than 800 readers of this site and Consumer Traveler, we continued the conversation. Here are the results.
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Air travelers want up-front, all-in price for tickets

A majority of airline passengers want to see an all-inclusive price for their tickets up front, according to a new survey.

Asked how they preferred to view airfares when they shopped for tickets online, two-thirds of respondents said they want to select optional fees at the start of their search, view an inclusive price quote, and compare airfares with the same options. The technology currently exists to generate such quotes, but airlines have not released their fee information in a meaningful and comprehensive way, making such a comparison impossible.

A smaller number of air travelers (15 percent) say they don’t require as much information up front, and are happy with seeing a menu of airfares and a list of extra fees from which they can choose, but that they don’t need to compare fares between air carriers.

Slightly fewer (14 percent) said they don’t mind the current system, which requires them to visit each airline site, check airfares, look for possible fees, and then write them down to compare them.

About six percent said they want the airlines to choose what fees and options they’ll be offered, which is a system currently being created by American Airlines.
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Need an airline ticket? Surprisingly, “meta” search is where most travelers start

Conventional wisdom says most airfare searches start at an online travel agency or airline website.

But the conventional wisdom could be wrong.

Asked where they begin a ticket query, a new survey points to so-called “meta” search sites such as Hipmunk.com, Kayak.com and Mobissimo.com, which cull fares from multiple airlines and online agencies and then display the choices.

A slim plurality of travelers polled in a new Consumer Travel Alliance survey (37 percent) say they click on a meta-search site first. Another 35 percent begin with the airlines’ own websites, such as AA.com and Delta.com.

About 1 in 5 travelers go directly to an online agency, while only 7 percent call a travel agent and 2 percent visit a search engine like Google or Bing.
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Travelers say they’ll skip the airport and hit the road in 2011

How are you traveling in 2011?

In some ways, like you did this year. And in some ways not, according to a new survey.

Asked what mode of transportation they planned to use in 2011, most respondents indicated they would stay the course by cruising, driving, flying and using mass transport roughly the same as they did in 2010.

However, a significant number of travelers said they intended to fly less and drive more.

The poll of about 500 travelers, conducted last weekend by the Consumer Travel Alliance, suggests next year could be a busy one for motorists, while demand for air travel could weaken slightly.
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Who had the worst customer service in 2010? (Hint: it wasn’t airlines)

The US airline industry, which has an unenviable record of failing practically every customer-service survey for the last generation, has a new rival: The Transportation Security Administration.

A new poll says the agency charged with protecting the nation’s transportation systems offered travelers the worst customer service in 2010. The survey, conducted last week by the Consumer Travel Alliance, found half of all travelers believed TSA offered the worst service, followed by airlines (29 percent), car rental companies (10 percent), hotels (5 percent), cruise lines (3 percent), online travel agencies and bricks-and-mortar agencies (roughly 1 percent each).

Travelers say they picked the federal screeners not because TSA’s service is universally bad, but because it is inconsistent.
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Weekend survey: When should a car rental company charge you for damage?


That’s not an academic question, given all the recent stories about excessive car rental claims on this site.

And yes, it still is the weekend. I’m in another time zone. (But I’ll be back on the mainland tomorrow.)

Here’s the link to the survey.

I’m also interested in your comments. Should car rental companies go after the last person who rented the car, or should they be more conservative, and only pursue claims that have been acknowledged by the renter?

You can comment here or email me.

Should airlines disclose fees before you buy your ticket? Survey says …


Yes. Heck, yeah.

Only 6 people out of the initial 812 respondents — just 0.7 percent — said “no.”
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