Help! It’s Almost 2024 and Travelers Keep Making the Same Mistakes.

Dear Travelers,

Seth here — writing to you to gripe this time, rather than the other way around. The Tripped Up column helps travelers with problems they encounter (and sometimes even wrangles refunds), but no matter how much great advice I give, readers keep making the same mistakes! It’s almost as if you prioritize your families, jobs and health over memorizing my suggestions.

So instead of using my last column of the year to get one specific traveler out of a jam, I’ve decided to rehash the crucial lessons I’ve learned — and hopefully help a few travelers along the way.

Based on nearly 2,000 reader submissions (so far) in 2023, here are my top six guidelines for minimizing travel trouble in 2024. Seth, Queens, N.Y.

Avoid online travel agencies (mostly)

I get so many complaints about huge O.T.A.’s like Expedia and that I’ll have to spin the wheel to find someone to help. OK, let’s take John of New Port Richey, Fla. Last February, he found a British Airways flight for four passengers from Tampa, Fla., to Venice, Italy, on Priceline. He tried to book twice, with different credit cards, but both times was told his purchase was unsuccessful.

Surprise! He was charged twice anyway, for a total of $15,153, and never got even one reservation code from either Priceline or the airline.

He went to Priceline, as he should have, but after what he said were hours of phone calls and several emails, he gave up and contacted British Airways directly. They responded as most companies would: He had to go through the company from which he had made the purchase.

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