Thursday, January 22, 2015

No Expedia - You Can't Rip Me Off!

The other morning I received an email from Expedia saying they changed the return date on my flight, what!  Airlines often make little changes to flight times but completely changing my return date for no reason, I couldn’t believe it.  Which is pretty much what I said when I called.  Expedia blamed it on Lufthansa airlines saying they had made a schedule change but that wasn’t a schedule change it seemed more like a cancellation.

 I let Expedia know this date change was not acceptable and I needed them to move me back to my original return date.  They put me on another flight however they downgraded me from premium economy to economy.  When I pointed this out to the agent he said that there were no premium seats on this flight so I would just have to do with economy.  When I asked if I would be getting a refund for the difference in the price of the two tickets I was told no, I would just have to eat the loss and Expedia would just have to benefit from it apparently.  I called Lufthansa to see if they could help me.  They informed me that since the reservation was made through Expedia I had to go through them for any changes but they did tell me that I lost my premium economy seat on my original return flight because Expedia never confirmed my seats not because of a schedule change or the flight being cancelled. 

I called Expedia back and spent 3 ½ hours on the phone with them.  Eventually I reached a manager named Ryan who told me I just had to accept my downgrade because there were no other flights with premium economy san told me he wasn’t seats available on them.  When I once again asked about getting a refund for the difference in ticket price Ryan told me he was going to give me any refund and that’s how it was.  I explained to him you can’t sell someone an iPhone 6 and then tell them sorry we’re all out of the 6’s but I have an iPhone 5you can have instead but we’re going to keep the extra money you paid for the better model.  But Ryan couldn’t  care less and stood his ground that he was keeping my money.

For the next six days I called Expedia demanding that they find me a premium economy flight or refund the difference in price of the tickets.  I let them know that I had called the airlines and knew that it was Expedia’s error that caused me to lose my seats in premium economy in the first place and if they couldn’t get me back onto a Lufthansa flight they could put me on a partner airline. 

Finally after speaking to a third manager, I was rebooked onto a new flight in premium economy class.   Funny how a flight suddenly became available. 

It took several days and many hours but I finally got Expedia to fix what they messed up in the first place.  It can be a long, hard process and even though you may get a hundred no’s you just need one person to say yes and if you let them know your not going to just take your lumps and walk away and your not going to let them bully you, you have a better chance of getting your issue resolved.  Remember, be firm but keep your cool.  Screaming won’t help even though you may want to rip somebody’s head off.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Transportation Website

Rome2Rio is a new website that helps travelers plan their travel routes.  Not only does it help you figure out how to get from point A to point B but it will also provide you with several options on how to accomplish this as well as how much it will cost you. 

For example I put in that I wanted to travel from Krakow, Poland to Zurich, Switzerland.  I was told the fastest way to get there would be to take a 21 minute bus ride from Krakow city center to the airport, fly 2 hours to Zurich and then take a 10 bus ride from the airport to the city center in Zurich, all for a cost ranging from $152-$312.  Other options included a 16 hour train ride for $224, a 21 hour bus ride for $90 or a 12 hour drive for $230.  I was also given information about things to do in Zurich and hotels.

This is a great site to use when trying to figure out how to get to your destination as well as how much it will cost and how long it will take you.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Delta's New 5 Level Ticketing Options

Delta Airlines is introducing a new five tiered ticket category pricing system.  They  will offer five different levels of service from Delta One which is a step up from First class down to Basic Economy which is a step down from regular economy.  The five levels are:

Delta One – Available on international flights and long hauls for New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  With this service you will get access to Delta’s Sky Clubs, as well as luxury amenities such as flat bed seat with aisle access, plush in-flight bedding, premium food and wine, noise reducing headphones, complimentary entertainment and access to Wi-fi and power ports, and Amenity kit with Malin+Goetz skincare products.

First Class – You will get dedicated overhead space, pre-departure drinks, premium snacks on shorter flights and complimentary meals on longer ones, complimentary entertainment and access to Wi-fi and power ports.
Delta Comfort – Up to 4” of extra leg room vs main cabin seating, Priority boarding and dedicated overhead space, complimentary drinks including wine, spirits and beer, premium snacks on domestic flights over 900 miles, premium entertainment and access to Wi-Fi.

On international flights: extra seat recline, meal service and a pillow, blanket and sleep kit.

Main Cabin (the old economy class) – Pre-assigned seat selection, flexibility for flight changes, non- alcoholic drinks and snacks, access to Wi-Fi and Delta Studio entertainment when available.

Basic Economy – With one of these tickets you will get a seat n the plane and, well, that’s it.  There are no advance seat assignments so you will get whatever seat is leftover from passengers who purchased a ticket with an advanced seat assignment option.  In other words, I hope you like the middle seat next to the bathroom.  This also means unless there are a lot of empty seats on the plane there is a good chance you won’t get to sit next to anybody you are traveling with.  Once you purchase your Basic Economy ticket that it, there are no changes or upgrades allowed.  You are stuck with that ticket just as you purchased it, for that flight, at that time, on that date,  so make sure you don’t miss your flight or you will have to purchase a whole new ticket.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cruise Buffet Eqituette

When it comes to the buffet on a cruise some passengers act like it’s a limited time offer.  If you don’t get in there and get your food within the first 20 minutes you will have to go hungry until the next meal.  Next thing you know, there’s line cutting, elbows are flying, and there’s some very creative usage of words.  But the reality is there’s enough food to go around several times over so there is no need for this type of behavior but of course there is always that one.  For those who are newbies to the cruising world seasoned cruisers take cruise etiquette very seriously so in order to avoid the scorn of the pros here are a few buffet etiquette guidelines (according to Cruise Critic):

1.      Don’t cut in the line: Oh… this is bad, very bad.  Nothing will set off passengers faster than someone cutting in front of them in the buffet line, just don’t do it.

2.      Always Go with the Flow of Traffic: Starting at the wrong end and making your way through the line in the opposite direction then everyone else just messes with the flow of things and is plain ole irritating.  So just go with the flow.

3.      Keep an Eye on Your Kids: I’m not sure who needs to be smacked more the child or the parent, but when you have kids running around the buffet, cutting in front of you in line, putting their hands all over the food, bumping into you causing you to drop your food, grabbing handfuls of stuff, its seriously irritating.  So parents please escort your young children to the buffet and make sure they are acting appropriately. 

4.      Don’t Handle the Food:  Do not pickup food with your finger that is what tongs and other utensils are for.  Nobody wants to eat something that you have just had your fingers all over. 

5.      Don’t Take the Tongs: Not only is it considered impolite to grab the the tongs from one platter so you can use them on another one but somebody may have food allergies and you may be cross contaminating the tongs which could make them seriously sick.  So wait politely for the person in front of you to finish using the tongs for the food item you want, it’s not that big of a deal and seriously how long could  they take to get their food.

6.      Don’t Eat While in Line: Unless you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, it’s considered rude to start eating while in line.  Personally I don’t care if you nibble on a little something but some people apparently are offended by it.  Me, I think if this is what offends you, maybe you have bigger issues but to each his own.

7.      Don’t Take More Than You Can Eat: Your cruising that big beautiful buffet line and everything looks so good so you just start piling it up on your plate.  You start eat and about half way through you can’t eat another bite which means the rest of that food goes in the garbage.  It’s better to take what you know you can eat and after finishing it if you are still hungry you can go back for more.  Just because you don’t have to pay for it doesn’t make it ok to needlessly waste food.

8.      Always Use a New Plate: In order to prevent the spreading of germs and cross-contamination of food, you should always get a new plate every time you go back to the buffet.  Don’t take your used plate back with you and refill it.

9.      Cleanliness is Next to Godliness:  In other words wash your hands.  At the entrance to the buffet you should find a hand sanitation station.  The simple act of washing your hands goes a long way in preventing the spreading of germs and viruses. 

10.  Don’t Do the Doggie Bag: It’s not cool to take food from the buffet with you when you leave.  If you want to grab an apple or piece of fruit to take with you it’s no big deal but loading up a napkin full of rolls, chicken wings and cookies is not cool.  There is food available around the ship pretty much anytime or you can order room service so there is no need to feel like you need to hoard food.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Luxury Airplane Suites

Experienced travelers know all too well that those long haul flights can seem like torture at times, especially when you are trying to sleep.  Twisting and turning in that tiny seat with your head flopping from side to side.  No wandering passengers getting off these flights look like something from the Walking Dead!
But now some airlines have a solution for you, private suites.  That’s right, you can have your very own little mini suite right on the plane. 
Singapore Airlines offer luxury suites complete with sliding doors for privacy and a lay flat bed with a plush mattress that does not utilize part of the seat for the sleeping surface.  Each suite has a chaise lounge, luggage storage and person coat closet.  The height adjustable table makes a great work station and the in seat power supply and USB outlet make working (or playing) on your laptop worry.  The on board entertainment system offers over 100 movies, 180 TV programs plus music and games.  Passengers will also dine of first class food, wine, champagne and spirits.
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines

Air France’s La Première cabin doesn’t have the sliding doors that Singapore Airline’s have but they do have a closing curtain for privacy.  Each suite has a 24” touch screen TV.  The seat lays flat and when a passenger is ready for bed a crew member will place a mattress on top of the flatten seat, give you a fluffy pillow and duvet. 
Air France
Air France

British Airways has a 26 sq ft suite with a 23” flat screen TV and a lay flat seat that converts into a 7 foot long bed, the longest you will find on any airline.  They offer over 200 of movies and each passenger has a person wardrobe.  Sliding doors give passenger complete privacy.

British Airways
British Airways


These suites are the ultimate luxurious way to fly but it will cost you, they are expensive.  But if I could afford it, this is how I would fly.


Friday, October 24, 2014

 Countries that Offer the Best Exchange Rates for Americans

With the ever increasing prices of airfares, budget minded travelers need to get creative in ways they can make their money stretch farther.  One way to do this is to travel to a country that offers a better exchange rate for the dollar.   There are some places such as England where 1 your dollar will only get you about .62 Pounds, not a good exchange rate.  There are much better options than this, here are a few:

ThailandExchange Rate: $1 = 32.4 Thai Baht
Thailand has gotten some negative press lately with its protests and major flooding so they are eager to lure travelers back, showing them not only that they are an amazing destination but also an affordable one.   

Exchange Rate: $1 = 243 Hungarian Forint
Hungry is a beautiful country filled with historic towns, castles and spas.  With this amazing exchange rate it makes this European country a great value.

Exchange Rate: $1 = 8.48 Pesos
Over the past few years the exchange rate has improved in favor of the US dollar which makes Argentina easy on the wallet and its breathtaking views and modern streets make it a hit with travelers.


Exchange Rate: $1 = 121 Krona
While airfares to Iceland can be expensive once you arrive there are many free things to do.  Many of Iceland’s incredible natural sites including waterfalls, lava flows and geysers are all free to see. 

Exchange Rate: $1 = 61 Rupee
The exchange rate has only gotten better over the past few years and in a country where bargains are around every corner that’s great news for American travelers. 

Exchange Rate: $1 = 8018 Lao
Laos is known for its laid back lifestyle.  Nobody here seems to be in a rush.  With this amazing exchange rate visitors can get a massage for a mire $6 or dine at an upscale restaurant for as low as $20.  Add to these bargains stunning landscapes and views and it’s a sure winner.

Looking for destinations that offer better exchange rates can save you a ton of money allowing you to do more once you arrive. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Crazy, Cool, New Ships

Cruise lines are going to new extremes to lure and entertain passengers.  They are constantly trying to outdo each other which is good for passengers for a couple of reasons.
First of all, there is more on board entertainment.  Many people choose which cruise they will take based on the ship and it’s on board activities and options rather than solely on its ports of call.  For some passengers, they just want to get away, relax and enjoy a cruise and aren’t really concerned with the ports so what the ship has to offer is extremely important.
Secondly, with the rush of people trying to get on board these new mega ships, people will be able to find some good deals on the smaller, older ships.  Cruise lines will want to keep these ships filled as well so they will be offering discounts and amenities to attract passengers to them.

This month’s new ship:

Quantum of the Seas

The two-story loftThe Quantum of the Seas from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will offer two story lofts, the Royal Loft Suite and Owners Loft Suite.  These stunning lofts will be larger than the average stateroom and include a living room, dining room and private deck.

Quantum - Owners
Quantum - suite

(Owners Loft Suite)                                                                                                     (Royal Loft Suite)

The North Star
Get a bird’s eye view of your surroundings with this glass capsule that rises 300 feet from a giant arm and rotates 360 degrees.   It actually extends out over the side of the ship so there is nothing to block your view and you feel like you are flying over the sea.
Royal north star

The skydiving simulatorIf you have ever wanted to try sky diving but just can’t bring yourself to jump out of a perfectly good plane, like myself, you will love RipCord.  This wind tunnel sky diving simulator lets passenger try sky diving without ever leaving the ship.  After taking a training course you can take two one-minute flights: one practice and one freestyle.

The SeaPlexThe SeaPlex is a crazy cool activity space where passengers can roller-skate, drive some bumper cars and even checkout the circus school with flying trapeze.

The giant projections

At the Two70degrees you can relax and enjoy the 20 foot tall, 100 foot wide digital-projection screens with changing scenes.  You will be lost in the crystal clear, breath-taking scenes on this one of a kind entertainment system.
This is also where the over the top production of Starwater is hosted complete with dancers, singers, aerialists, and musicians.
r1 r4

DiningThere are 18 dining options including a throwback to the formal attire cruise-ship dining restaurant The Grande, for passengers who like getting dressed up in grand style for dinner.