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Darron Cummings, Associated Press

Travel Troubleshooter: Smoking mad about hotel air quality

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
  • May 10, 2013 - 10:34 AM

Q: I recently stayed at the Days Inn in Fernandina Beach, Fla. I made a reservation for a nonsmoking room and was given a smoking room when I checked in.

I spoke with a manager, who told me he was sorry he couldn’t offer me a nonsmoking room. The only rooms the hotel had left to sell were smoking rooms.

So my question to Wyndham is: Is it their policy to accept a reservation for a nonsmoking room when no such room exists? I wrote to Wyndham, but after several e-mails, it stopped answering.

I understand that a hotel cannot always guarantee a nonsmoking room. But the manager admits none was available when I made my reservation. I never would have completed the reservation had I known that. They would have charged me a day’s stay had I not shown up; they should compensate me a day’s stay for not having the room.

I do feel Wyndham and Days Inn should somehow be accountable for this misleading action.

 

A: Let me state my bias upfront: I believe that smoking should not be allowed in a hotel room. Ever. Unfortunately, at the time you stayed in your hotel, Florida state law permitted smoking. A look at the Days Inn site also showed that the room type you booked said your room would be “nonsmoking,” which led you to conclude you wouldn’t have to inhale trace amounts of carcinogens.

You should have said something to the Days Inn manager as soon as you checked in. If you couldn’t be accommodated in one of its nonsmoking rooms, it might have sent you to another Wyndham-owned property close by, at its expense. But once you unpacked your belongings and decided to stay, the hotel more or less assumes the room is acceptable and that you’ve agreed to pay for it.

Wyndham shouldn’t have dropped the matter when you contacted it. It owed you an explanation, at the very least, if not an apology for giving you a smoking room. As far as I can tell, it didn’t give you either.

I contacted Wyndham on your behalf, and it offered you a free room night to make up for the mixup.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for travelers. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.

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