Need to sound off about a travel problem? Plenty of Web sites let you do just that. Going by names like Travelsucks.com, they often offer a satisfying soapbox for frequent travelers.
Need to solve a problem? That's not quite so easy. Lorraine Sileo, an analyst with PhoCusWright, a travel research company based in Sherman, Connecticut, says it's one thing to vent, "but actually solving a travel problem is difficult and elusive."
This summer, as the airline industry begins a slow recovery and tourism bounces back from the events of September 11, the Web will try to do both. Here are a few of the contenders:
- JoeSentMe.com is a new dotcom launched by industry gadfly Joe Brancatelli. While much of the information is "how-to" advice, the site often incites readers to lobby for a particular cause-and tells them how to do it.
- PassengerRights.com offers listings of rules and regulations that can help you find out what your rights are. The site also offers an easy-to-use complaint form and helpful tips on how to file a grievance.
- Ticked.com publishes a weekly column that fields questions about travel problems. It also links to articles on the Web that help travelers determine what their rights are and how to avoid having a bad trip.
- TravelProblems.com charges a fee for its help in resolving your complaint (a $30 flat fee for claims up to $200).
The government doesn't track the effectiveness of these sites. However, it publishes a troubleshooting tract of its own called "Tell It to the Judge" about resolving travel complaints in small claims court. You can find it online at www.dot.gov/airconsumer/telljudge.htm .
Christopher Elliott is a writer and commentator and the editor of www.elliott.org .