David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
The Bottom Ten List
The worst travel experiences (so far) of 2022 – October 2022
As you read this I am likely in a hospital bed recovering from some needed surgery. I wish I could say I’m a ‘trooper’ about all this, but I don’t do pain well and am likely miserable to be around right now. Rather than keep the misery to myself I figured I’d share it with you. No, not to make you go through all the pain (heavens no) but instead, to share with you my bottom ten miserable travel experiences and travel misery causes of 2022. And I’m qualifying it with “…so far…” as two months is a loooong time left for firms to continue to mess things up.
10. The TSA: As I come close to the end of my flying calendar year I have to point out (again) that the entire point of the TSA is ridiculous. When I fly from EWR and go through the Pre-Check lanes I am hassled, my bags are ripped-open and rifled-through, my pockets need to be completely emptied, and after nothing bad is found I’m left to put everything back together in the middle of a terminal. When I fly from many other airports in the US I simply present my ID only (boarding pass not needed) I put my bags on the belt, and I walk through without a hassle. What terrorist is too stupid to realize that avoiding EWR and flying through another airport will avoid a more significant inspection? Is that the point of the TSA – to push people to less equipped airports? Someone in charge of this mess needs to really re-think this – but honestly has needed to for years.
9. Newark Airport: As I recently wrote about, EWR is clearly the worst airport in the US, and it has been that way for quite some time. Nothing is ever done purely to improve the passenger experience. Everything can be tied to the greed of the airline flying out of there. It’s really a shame.
8. United Airlines Mileage Plus: I still can’t get past the royal screwing United’s lifetime passengers got. We spend decades on the promise of getting one from the top elite status for life and when we finally get to the mountain top we find out it was a bait and switch. When United was sued by a frequent flyer over this, United won the case because (the judges found) United reserved the right to change the program at will. The judges however did say that United’s promise of “lifetime” benefits might be “misleading[,] perhaps even fraudulent,” and called their defense “a confession of consumer fraud.” United will always, permanently carry the stain of cheats and liars until and unless they fix this.
7. Sandals Resorts: When my wife and I scheduled a holiday at one of their all-inclusive resorts at the full, premium “butler service” level we did not expect rats on the patio, ants on the bathroom sink, and just about all promises unmet and unfulfilled. When we complained about it we were completely ignored. Apparently the only time they respond to customers is when we publicize the poor experience, so publicize it is exactly what I will continue to do.
6. Capital One / Visa: We were totally floored that our credit card company for the above Sandals trip – Capital One Venture Visa – completely ignored the detailed and specific evidence of the terrible experience at Sandals and found in their favor when we disputed only a fraction of the charges. They said we didn’t try to speak with Sandals (even though we gave them the names of the people we spoke with) that we didn’t provide the answers to their questions (even though we confirmed over the phone that they had received said answers) and said we didn’t have evidence of our claim (even though we sent them screen captures of Sandals’ website lies and, again, ACTUAL FREEKING VIDEO OF ANTS IN THE BATHROOM!) When we told them we’d cancel our account if they continued to fraudulently back the vendor in the face of evidence, they blamed VISA for their position. We now have a daily credit card from another bank and will also publicize this experience as long and loud as we can.
5. Hilton’s Hampton Inns: What used to be an excellent value property pre-pandemic has devolved into a free-for-all, dirty experience. To save money the entire chain has eliminated housekeeping service in their rooms (except upon request.) The results are exactly what you’d expect – dirtier, smellier rooms. And while I’m mentioning it, be sure to check with all Hilton chain hotels as many if not most are pulling this BS.
4. United Airlines Domestic First-Class: The only firm to make my list twice, United Airlines has severely diminished the value and quality of their domestic first class service, and has made the meals they serve on it completely inedible. Years ago all airlines realized that they could make the coach experience terrible so that people would pay more for first class. Now they realized that only the unfulfilled promise of first class is actually enough of a carrot to dangle as their bean-counters deposit the saved pennies in the bank.
3. Las Vegas: Hiding behind the excuse of the pandemic, Las Vegas resorts have begun cutting services to the bone. Buffets are disappearing as quickly as change in a slot machine, fees are being added onto complimentary and discounted stays, and the bean counters there are competing with the bean counters in the airline industry for the Scrooge of the Year award.
2. Car Dealers: Sliding sideways into a travel complaint list are the US car dealerships. More people are traveling by car than ever before. And with supply chains strained around the world these dealerships have taken-it upon themselves to radically change their model of selling cars. No longer paying to have cars in stock they are selling cars they don’t have yet and delivering them to customers when they arrive. This saves them a ton of money in financing, and the perception of scarcity allows them to charge thousands of dollars over MSRP price. How real is the crisis? I don’t really know, but the dealerships have surely hidden behind it to rake in cash and jack-up prices.
1. COVIDIOTS: The number one traveling pain-in-the-rear for this year (and the two prior ones) has to be COVIDiots. These selfish, stupid people, refusing to extend the courtesy of wearing masks and ignoring the science of getting vaccinated are the single largest reason that the COVID pandemic has lasted for three years now. They are walking petri dishes allowing the virus to continue to mutate, all while thinking the simple courtesy of wearing a mask to help slow down the spread of infections is somehow a political stunt. Congrats to them for creating the world we now live in.
As I mentioned, there are two more months to go in 2022, and these include Thanksgiving and holiday season travel. Hold-on as “the ride ain’t over yet.”
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.
Copyright 2022 David Danto
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