Consumer Reports

Survey: luggage fees a big travel woe

Travelers have many reasons to be annoyed, but what bugs them most are luggage charges and add-on airline ticket fees, according to a survey by Consumer Reports. Travelers were also very annoyed by rude or unhelpful staff, whether at airlines, hotels or rental-car companies.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted 2,000 interviews in a nationally representative telephone survey.
CR asked respondents to score three lists of travel gripes covering rental-cars, airlines and hotels for a total of 24 items on a 1-to-10 scale, with “1” meaning an experience “does not annoy you at all” and “10” meaning it “annoys you tremendously.”
Luggage charges (8.4 overall) and added airline ticket fees (8.1) top the list, but rude or unhelpful staff at rental-car companies (7.9), hotels (7.8) and airlines (7.7) were also among the more annoying things that rub Americans the wrong way while traveling.
Among the highlights:
— Poor communication about airline delays (7.1) annoyed people slightly more than the delays themselves (6.8).
— Airline travelers who hog your seat (7.0) and carry-on space (6.7) are less annoying than some other irritants. Many people give crying babies and unruly kids (4.9) on planes a pass and have apparently gotten used to puny or no airline snacks (5.1) and long lines for security and check-in (5.2).
— Women travelers are somewhat more annoyed than men. Among complaints for which the gender gap was sufficient: pricey in-room hotel snacks (6.8 women, 5.2 men); insufficient or chintzy hotel bedding (7.2 women, 6.2 men), and high-pressure pitches for extra rental-car coverage or upgrades (7.1 women, 6.0 men).
— Some gripes annoyed respondents under age 50 much more than those 50 and older. Those included rude or unhelpful airline staff (8.6 under 50, 8.0 50 or older), rental-car pitches (6.8 under 50, 6.1 50 or older), and absence of the ordered car (6.5 under 50, 5.4 50 and older).
CR also offers ways to have fun, stay healthy and be safe:
— Watch your back. Today’s air travelers often carry and hoist their own luggage to avoid paying baggage fees and the hassle of waiting at baggage claim. As you lift heavy objects, try to hold them close to your chest; bend your knees, not your back; and reposition your entire body, rather than twisting or reaching as you lift.
— Move around. Walk the airplane’s aisles about once an hour and frequently flex your ankles and knees when you’re in your seat to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs, which can cause a life-threatening lung embolism.
— Mind your diet. Diarrhea, the most common illness among travelers, strikes from 30 to 70 percent of visitors to underdeveloped countries. In those areas, avoid unpasteurized dairy products, tap water, ice cubes made with tap water, and raw produce unless you peel it.
— Be safe in the sun. Avoid sitting out too long under the sun’s potent rays. When you’re out there, shield your eyes with sunglasses, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and protect your skin by using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
— Tread tides carefully. When you’re at the shore, be alert to any warnings about rough tides. Don’t ever swim alone and swim only when there is a lifeguard present.
— Avoid seasickness. To get some relief from motion sickness, try closing your eyes or gazing at a faraway, stationary object. To feel better overall, move to the boat’s center, where the waves might not feel as rocky.
— Wash up. Perhaps the most notorious hazards on board cruise ships are infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses in particular. If there’s an outbreak, don’t shake hands, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.