Dec 24, 2014
Dateline: The North Pole - I woke up this morning snowbound. It will be a white Christmas. Reflecting on a year's worth of travel and assorted adventures with so many highs and lows, good and bad.
I thought "What would Santa do?" Here's a quick, down and dirty 2014 Travel Naughty/Nice List….and yes, I checked it twice…
First, the one’s that would make Ebenezer Scrooge proud and the lumps of coal part (the list seems longer than last year’s?!):
● Marriott hotels for ripping us off by jamming our Wi-Fi hotspots. That $600,000 FCC fine wasn’t enough!
● Chicago Midway (MDW) airport managers for creating a 1.2 mile long security line. 1.2 miles!
● All US Airlines… with 50% lower fuel costs, when will we be getting a price break passed down to us? Greedy! (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/16/opinion/no-relief-for-air-travelers.html?emc=edit_th_20141216&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=61253876)
● Polish LOT Airlines for being wholly uncaring to your customers. Fool us once…
● Hyatt & Hilton hotel chains for both making significant devaluations to your loyalty programs.
● The makers of the ridiculous travel products: Ostrich Pillow and Pillowing. WTF?!
● The makers of Knee Defenders…aren’t the skies uncivil enough without this provocative product?
● Airline passengers that exceed their carry-on limits…a tad selfish don’t you think!
● United Airlines for, oh, let me count the ways: suing Skylagged.com, going to a revenue based frequent flyer mileage plan, crappy service…. Thanks for everything! What’s next United; you going to start charging us $10 to get our bags back?
● Delta Airlines for creating an even worse economy class and making its loyalty program unusable.
● Bah humbug to Spirit Airlines for charging an additional $2 on luggage fees to those who travel over the holidays.
● Air passengers in Texas who continue to lead (Woohoo you’re #1) the civilized world in trying to board planes with illegal guns. I fear for the Republic.
● Et tu, JetBlue? For joining the dark side by adding fees and reducing legroom. Shame on you. Naughty, naughty, naughty!
● Korean Airlines for serving bagged macadamia nuts instead of warmed up nuts on a plate to First Class passengers. Oh the horror, the horror.
● LaGuardia airport (LGA) for making the world’s worst airport list, again. Do you even care?
● Putin’s military thugs for shooting down Malaysian airlines MH 17, and then saying you didn’t. Bullies.
● All travel-related selfie contests. Stop encouraging this, please, now! (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/04/selfie-holidays_n_5240007.html)
● Canada's electronic spy agency (CSEC) that uses the free Wi-Fi systems at YVR and YYZ to collect data from unsuspecting passengers' wireless devices.
● The company, captain and crew of the Korean ferry MV Sewol, who let hundreds of high school students die in April due to your greed, willful disregard and shameful unprofessionalism.
● Malaysian Airlines for not doing a better job explaining what happened to missing flight MH 370 in March.
● The new multi-million dollar BioMuseo in Panama. Nice Frank Gehry building…but where’s the beef?
● Climate change deniers; because the more I travel the world the more undeniable the changes I see are.
● Il Giardino, the Cap-Ferret, France, restaurant that sued (and won!) when a customer gave them a bad review! Oh how very French.
● Broadway Hotel in Blackpool, England who charged guests 100 pounds ($156) for violating the hotels "no-bad-review policy" terms and conditions.
● Gun tourism promotors. Really? What could go wrong? Oh yea, people die.
● The Australian travelers who bombard their overseas consulates with requests about: how to watch Australian rules rugby games on local TV; about feeding their forgotten pets back home; and for getting a loan to pay prostitutes. Pack some sense folks.
● FOX News for “vacation shaming” President Obama (and other hard working Americans) for actually taking their allotted vacation time.
● Travel PR flacks who continue to makeup ridiculous buzzwords to hype products. The list is as endless as it is mindless: ecotourism, staycation, daycation, babymoon, voluntourism, honeyteering, glamping, bleisure and now poshtels. Please, stop it!
● The US media and politicians for their hysterical kneejerk calls for an EBOLA travel ban and ruining tourism for the whole (rather large) continent of Africa. Fear the disease, not the continent.
● Venice’s City Council for attempting to ban (with $620 fines) the runaway use of wheeled luggage along the precious fragile streets and bridges of their magical floating city.
● United, Alaska, Southwest, Spirit and Hawaiian airlines who have added slim-line seats--that 83% of passengers found less comfortable than traditional seats—in order to create denser (but profitable) configurations.
● U.S. State Department... for continuing to make Americans the only people in the world who can't visit Cuba.
● Newspaper travel editors who continue to publish uninspiring travel puff pieces to assuage their travel sections industry advertisers.
● GOP-controlled House for passing the not so transparent Transparent Airfares Act—that isn’t!
● Anonymous flying vigilantes who use Facebook and Instagram to shame fellow travelers online for their crude, nasty and uncivil flying transgressions.
● Anonymous flying vigilantes who use Facebook and Instagram to shame fellow travelers online for their crude, nasty and uncivil flying transgressions. (I can’t decide if it is a bad thing or a good thing?)
● The many people of Oman, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Seoul, Kyoto, Rajasthan, Krakow, Krems, Amman, Chicago, Budapest and Brazil, who so sweetly took care of me this year traveling. Thank you.
● Samsonite for creating the micro-luggage scooter. Fun, I want one!
● Skiplagged.com for helping travelers find the lowest prices flying between A and B and C. Why are United and Orbitz suing you again? Oh yeah, finding cheaper prices. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-18/united-orbitz-sue-travel-site-over-hidden-city-ticketing-1-.html)
● The TSA for expanding its Pre-Check program that usually works well.
● The Palms hotel in Las Vegas for offering visitors a full 24 hours in their hotel rooms. Thank you!
● #noshittyphotos for helping rid the world of crappy travel photos.
● The Global Scavenger Hunt... for 11 years of putting on a great around the world travel adventure competition.
● Starwood Hotels for giving members free Internet starting Feb. 2--if you book on their site. (It is a start…Marriot too!)
● Vancouver International airport (YVR) for creating such an inviting international terminal complete with real fresh air, soothing waves and birds chirping. Ah.
● Christopher Elliott for continuing to fight the good fight against travel-related rip offs. Thank you.
● The people for Brazil for showing the world such a good time at the 2014 World Cup. Obrigado!
● Congressman Alan Grayson for his call to audit changes with frequent flyer programs without notice. They ripped us off and they should pay the piper—not us!
● Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler for figuring out the perfect time to arrive at the airport to make a domestic fight--one and a half hours before your flight (5% margin of error).
● Air New Zealand for their fun safety video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOw44VFNk8Y#t=41)
● The EU for eliminating continent-wide roaming charges for cell phones. I wonder if we could get that in North America. Ho Ho!
● The Passport Party Project for helping young women get their first passport and promote global citizenship.
● Vegas’s High Roller Ferris Wheel…fun. (But $36.95 is a tad steep!)
● The Government of India for instituting a 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival plan. Go now… (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html)
● Rio de Janeiro’s new Museum of Image and Sound. Cool!
● The new Musee Des Confluences in Lyon, France. Wow!
● Pack for a Purpose for helping travelers make thoughtful and meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit.
● Randy Petersen for sticking up for us frequent fliers.
● Yapta.com... for letting us know when our purchased flight cost has gone down and how to get a refund.
● American Airlines…but only because they have NOT (yet) made their frequent flyer program a revenue-based one. We will see about 2016 list!
● Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Thai and Emirates Airlines... because you know how to treat your customers.
● President Obama for finally moving on his pledge to let us freely travel to Cuba.
● And speaking of nice, I want to thank Pauline Frommer, Christopher Elliott, Randy Petersen, Johnny Jet and Tim Winship for their input in helping me compile this year’s naughty/nice list. Thank you all and Merry Christmas.
That's my 2014 Travel Naughty/Nice list, who's on yours? Merry Christmas everyone.