About Me

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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reading Travel Reviews

After my looked into flights to London and Scotland I realized I didn't know much about Air France. The obvious solution was to go look at Airlinequality.com for reviews of Air France. To my frustration I found the same problem that I have at other review websites. There are too many people complaining about things that aren't really related to the airline. There are a lot of people complaining that their flight was canceled and they couldn't get through to the phone support. Well if there were a lot of cancellations for the airline, say due to weather, then of course you can't get through to phone support because everyone is doing the same thing. Or you get the complaints about delays, well every airline has delays and they all have them for the same reasons some of which they have limited control over. Based on one flight they will rate the airline really, really low. I liked the guy who doesn't like the use of the term "bed" when referring to the business seat that doesn't lay flat. Maybe I'm a geek or a dreamer, but I often take a look at airlines premium class cabins and see what you get, if someone is so interested in the terminology, didn't he look at that before flying? He then tried to compare the wine offerings from Business with the offerings on Singapore Coach class - an airline that many consider the best in the world and something that isn't exactly a secret if you looked it up. As for the customer service complaints... First, it's a French Airline, the French suck at customer service why do they think it would stop at their airline? Not that it's an excuse for bad customer service, but if you're expecting great customer service then I wouldn't choose an airline from France. I'm just saying.

But this is a common theme when looking at travel reviews. Chris Christensen from the Amateur Traveler podcast and This Week In Travel once said that you learn more about people's trips in some hotel reviews then you learn about the actual hotel. It's true, and it makes it hard to find good information about travel things. For the airlinequality website I now just skip the reviews with a zero, they're pissed about something on their flight and are on a rant and I know that that person would probably fly with the airline again if it offered the cheapest price. I also suspect these are the same people who get up to the counter and yell at the person and get screwed. You then walk up right after are nice and the person gets you whatever you want. I know I don't think like that person.

Then of course there are the people who visit hotels and tell hotel owners that if they don't do something for them they will write a bad review on tripadvisor. Between those people and the people who complain in their review about every little thing, they walked in behind a tour bus and had to wait too long to check in or the sheets were scratchy in a $50 a night hotel who knows what to believe. Some reviews are entertaining, but not helpful.

So how to find good reviews? I personally like it when websites, though I can't think of any travel websites that do this, that allow readers to rate if the review was helpful or not. Short of that I avoid reviews that give the lowest review possible, this is usually the person who is mad and wants everyone to hear how horrible they were treated, but they don't offer information that is helpful in making a decision. This is especially true if there are a lot of high markings. Do they offer examples of what was wrong. "The room was dirty" is subjective. But, "there were stains on the carpet, and bedding," that tells me what was wrong and is useful in making my decision. I often don't spend much time on the 5 star ratings, they really liked I don't need to read too much about that. I like to concentrate on the middle of the road ratings.

In the meantime you should all know that you can't lie flat in Air France Business class, and you might have to contort to sleep. WHAT? In business class you can actually contort so that you CAN sleep, now that's worth money!