A recent “World for $1” promotion by LastMinuteTravel.com promised a room “in any of our 15,000 hotels” for $1 a night. The only catch? You had to book them during a specified 15-minute window.

“As for when those 15 minutes occur,” the site announced. “You don’t know.”

But that wasn’t the only catch. No sooner did the 12-day sale start than the complaints began pouring in. People were being asked to watch a video before they could book a room. One reader timed the sale and found it wasn’t lasting 15 minutes. Others were having trouble accessing the site.

Did LastMinuteTravel neglect to mention a detail or two?

Maybe. But if it did, it’s not alone. The travel industry loves to “forget” important facts about its products, whether it’s a critical airfare rule or an important paragraph in a cruise contract. And yes, these clauses are getting crazier. No surprise, then, that travel companies are being less upfront about them. They know good and well it could affect our purchasing decision.

LastMinuteTravel just seems to be continuing a time-honored tradition in the travel business. Here are the top clauses your travel company probably won’t disclose — and what you need to know about them.

1. We can change the rules of our loyalty program any time

Travel companies basically do whatever they want with their loyalty programs. You’d think they might at least notify you when a rule changes, but they often don’t. And they don’t have to. For example, American Airlines’ AAdvantage program terms warn that “American Airlines may, in its discretion, change the AAdvantage program rules, regulations, travel awards, and special offers at any time with or without notice.” That’s not just boilerplate legalese — for large parts of the travel industry, those are words to live by.

What it means for you: Never assume the rules under which you enrolled in your airline, car rental or hotel loyalty program will remain the same. Or that anyone will tell you when the rules change. It’s up to you to keep up.

Continue reading pn elliott.org

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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