CHARLESTON — Analysts expect a record number of Americans to travel during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and with most trips just days away, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey offers the following advice for a less troublesome trip.
AAA estimates 100.5 million people will travel from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3. It projects more than 90 percent, or 91.3 million, will drive with another 5.8 million planning to fly.
For many the holiday season means time with extended family, while others may opt for an elaborate vacation destination. Either way, travelers should remember these tips regarding methods of payment, lodging and airfare as compiled by the Attorney General’s Office, Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Transportation
“There’s a lot that goes into making sure any vacation runs smoothly,” Morrisey said. “That can be especially important during the holidays as travelers must slow down so as not to forget something small amid the hustle and bustle.”
Morrisey urged everyone to track their spending online. He also recommended travelers set spending limits with credit and debit cards and keep a watchful eye for any fraudulent expenditures, adding that traditional credit cards offer the best protection.
The attorney general recognized many holiday travelers will stay with family and friends, but urged those booking separate accommodations to consider the following tips:
- Get recommendations from family or friends.
- Double-check any hotel offering “five-star” or “luxury” accommodations. Third-party travel advisers and websites can alert you to companies that market below-average accommodations in such a manner.
- Watch for extra fees. For instance, “resort fees” can be mandatory and add additional costs per night to your stay regardless, if you use the services or not.
Travelers also should be very aware of cancellation fees. Such knowledge is crucial in booking accommodations and scheduling airfare. Travel insurance can offer added protection, but consumers should make sure the policy is from a licensed carrier.
For those taking to the friendly skies, Morrisey offers these tips:
- Know your rights before voluntarily giving up your seat for travel vouchers on an overbooked flight. Airlines must tell passengers about any material restriction on the use of those vouchers beforehand.
- Those involuntarily denied boarding because of an overbooked flight must be given written notice explaining their rights. They are usually entitled to compensation, usually a check.
- Mailing addresses must be made available by U.S. and foreign airlines for any consumer complaints, after which the airline has 60 days to respond.
- Airlines experiencing weather or mechanical issues are prohibited from keeping passengers aboard an aircraft for more than three hours on domestic flights. Food and water must be offered after two hours, and bathrooms and medical care must be provided.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam or consumer-related matter, call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.com.