Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them in 2024

It seems their best method for success is to communicate via polite, concise email inquiries rather than phone calls, online chats, or web forms. Customer service email addresses are sometimes hard to find, but this means they may receive faster attention or better service. Plus, they provide a clean written record that you can forward two weeks later if you don’t hear back.

And if not, aim higher. When Amy from St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote to me asking for help with a $1,172 credit from United Airlines that was proving impossible to use, I suggested she use, a site run by Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit that does Tripped Up-style work and provides contact information for travel providers. She told me she wrote to a customer service representative at United and received a response the same day with a solution. “Magic!” she says.

If emails sent directly to your service provider fail, what might work are complaints to your credit card issuer, the Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general (or the Department of insurance for cases related to insurance) and the Federal Ministry of Transport (for flights).

Passengers often write to me in outrage, complaining that an airline canceled their entire itinerary simply because they missed one step. However, this is a widespread and well-documented rule. Not fair? I completely agree, but there’s nothing I can do other than tell you to (please) write your congressman.

People also often refuse to buy travel insurance because they think that if they get sick, they can just submit a doctor’s certificate and the airline, cruise line or hotel will reimburse them. But this is not elementary school, and even though companies sometimes make exceptions, we can’t count on them. Tong from Sebastopol, California, wrote to me that when his wife, Elizabeth, fell ill with Covid-19 during a trip to Italy in October, easyJet would not reimburse them $390 for an unused Naples-Palermo flight . At the height of the pandemic, this might have worked. No more.