Hyatt charges a man $5,500 for cancelling a reservation (because his father died), American Airlines refuses to seat an 18-month old, taxi drivers in Cancun go Mad Max on Uber and a Dave Ramsey smackdown. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).
It’s Dave vs. Dave. The first Dave is Ramsey, the well-known financial advisor/radio personality/debit card hawker who’s a bit
disliked controversial in the points and miles corner of the blogosphere. This is primarily because he’s historically been a “cash-only” advocate, telling folks that, across the board, credit cards are (trigger warning) “bad”? The second Dave is Grossman, of MilesTalk. Dave (Grossman) is somewhat ambivalent about Dave (Ramsey) and recently authored a subtle critique titled, “Dave Ramsey Should Stick to What He Knows – and It’s Not Credit Card Rewards.” It’s worth a look-see and, while I won’t rehash the whole thing here, suffice it to say that Grossman feels like Ramsey is painting with a brush about ten feet too broad.
Here’s another heartwarming story from the Hallmark Channel of domestic carriers, American Airlines. The basic gist is that a woman was flying from Portland to Florida with her two 18mo daughters (for which she already deserves our respect and admiration). She bought one seat for one infant and one seat for her, since she could treat her second child as a lap infant. They flew from Portland to DFW without issue, but then the clouds darkened in the form of an overzealous AA flight attendant, who said that both the FAA and AA had a policy against children under two sitting in their own seat (which isn’t true). The flight attendant stood her shaky ground and, in the end, the only reason the family was able to actually get to Tallahassee is that a stranger saw what was happening and offered to hold the second infant all the way to Florida (for which she deserves our respect and admiration). AA refuses to refund the seat that they (incorrectly) refused to allow the infant to occupy, saying that a) the flight attendant was perfectly within her discretion to deny boarding to a toddler, even if the reason she did so was incorrect and b) they only guarantee that you get from point A to point B. They don’t guarantee that you’ll have a seat along the way. The woman is now suing AA in small claims court, but the airline is fighting back. After all, refunding a Portland to Florida economy ticket could be $400, but being able to lay claim once and for all to the “Scrooge of the Skies” title is priceless.
Hyatt, normally the upstanding citizen of US hotel programs, gave us another warm and fuzzy recently. A man spent 63,000 Hyatt points on a three-night award booking at the Grand Victoria Hotel on Lake Como, a favorite of our own Nick Reyes. Unfortunately, the man’s father passed away and the funeral was during the stay. So, he figured he’d just cancel and, worst case, be out the 63,000 points. There was a problem, though. When you book an award with Hyatt and cancel after the deadline, although you’d assume that you’d just forfeit those points, its terms say that you’ll actually be on the hook for a percentage of the cash value of the stay – but you’re not told what that cash value will be (Marriott has the same rules). Oftentimes, an agreement can be reached with the property, especially given extenuating circumstances. You’d think that would include the death of a parent. However, in this case, neither Hyatt nor the Grand Victoria agreed and charged the man $5,500 for the missed stay. In fairness to Hyatt, this is a Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) property and so Hyatt doesn’t have full control over reservations. But still, this feels like a case where someone’s heart is two sizes too small. Gary Leff recaps the news here and provides some good advice for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
In general, taxi drivers cast a wary eye towards Uber and its
employees drivers. Especially when it’s new to market, the pricing structures and ease of access can negatively effect taxi ridership. I’ve personally seen Uber drivers get yelled at, flipped off and cut off by taxis, both in the US and abroad. That said, things have reached another level in Cancun this year, causing the US State Department to issue a travel warning back in January (as far as I know the first such warning regarding taxi drivers). Since then, there have been a string of assaults on cars suspected of being Uber rides, including one last month that resulted in the arrest of two cab drivers. There have been numerous social media posts about Uber attacks by the “taxi mafia,” culminating in the government’s recent announcement that drivers who attack another vehicle will now get their licenses revoked. Of course, this bruhaha is nothing compared to the French taxi drivers, who blew up cars, closed roadways and were hit with teargas during protests in 2016. But, then again, can there be any protest like a French protest?
South America is often neglected by points and miles/travel blogs, especially for a continent that offers such a wide diversity of culture, scenery, flora and fauna. That was part of the reason that Nick and I took the team to Chile, Brazil and Argentina during our recent Party of 5 Challenge. We had a blast during our (brief) time on the continent and were especially surprised with how much we enjoyed our LATAM business class flight from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile. While it’s not nearly as private as some other carriers, it was extremely comfortable, friendly and had terrific food. LATAM business can be a bargain from North America using either Alaska miles or British Airways Avios, but it added another partner this week: Virgin Atlantic. Normally, this would be great news, but the award pricing looks like it was put together by the same people who brought you the Marriott Free Breakfast Chart. Some awards are priced by distance, while others are fixed based on origin and destination. Unfortunately, North America to Brazil and Chile is one of the fixed routes and costs a minimum of 95,000 points one-way…an astronomical sum compared to 45,000 miles on Alaska (with a free stopover). The rest of South America is priced according to a distance chart, making the awards much more competitive. JT Genter has the full scoop.