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The Travel Detective: How to Get the Best Service and the Best Deals from Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Ships, and Car Rental Agencies Paperback – April 24, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

The good news, according to travel writer Peter Greenberg, is that Americans are traveling more than ever before. The bad news is that we hate the process--the delayed flights, lost suitcases, overhyped cruises, and overpriced hotel rooms. We are a nation of unhappy but addicted travelers, doomed by our own inadequate travel planning and geographical ignorance. Never fear, though, the original savvy traveler has written the guide to end all guides on how to get to your destination and have a good time, too, by beating the airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and rental car agencies at their own games, playing by their own rules.

Greenberg is hands down the right man for the job. Here is a guy who, just for laughs, checked in a double porcelain sink as a carry-on, crisscrossed the country on six different airlines over two days to see if the flights would be on time, and tested credit-card company claims of offering global assistance in an emergency by getting stuck in a ghost town in Death Valley. Not only that, he's traveled to 120 of the world's 187 countries.

A tourist, says Greenberg, is a victim waiting to happen. The travel world is full of ridiculous and draconian rules, but there are no shortages of ways to finesse them. You just have to know what to avoid and how to ask the right questions. Greenberg explains how to get the cheapest fares, beat the Saturday-night-stay requirement, and the importance of Rule 240. He tells you the truth about frequent-flyer programs, where the secret flights and even secret seats are, and how to avoid being a PAWOB (passenger without bags). He's got tips for traveling with kids and pets, and the truth about the safety of infants flying on laps (as well as that infamous first-class flying pig). Once you've made it to your destination, he'll fill you in on the best time to call to get the lowest hotel rates, the right question to ask to get a room with good water pressure, and how to avoid hotel and rental-car rip-offs. He's even got advice for finding a cruise that lives up to its seductive description. This is one useful, fun, and readable guide. --Lesley Reed

From Library Journal

In this entertaining book, Today show travel editor Greenberg reveals many insider secrets on how to get the lowest fare, make plane reservations, get the best airplane seat, negotiate the best hotel room deals, and much more. Greenberg, who is also the chief correspondent for the Discovery Network's Travel Channel and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler, devotes about three-fourths of the book to air travel, delighting in offering well-deserved criticism of the airlines. His air travel tips are useful and deserving of all serious travelers' attention, especially those traveling on a budget. Though the book omits three areas of travel that form an increasing part of America's traveling experience organized tours, travel by car, and train travel it is packed with valuable information and features an authoritative, and quite funny, voice. Recommended for all libraries. George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375756663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375756665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,466,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Greenberg is America's most recognized, honored and respected front-line travel news journalist. He is Travel Editor for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and CBS Sunday Morning, among other broadcast platforms.

Greenberg is also host of the nationally syndicated Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio show, broadcast each week from a different remote location around the world. The live, three-hour weekly radio program and a daily short-form travel feature are syndicated by United Stations and are heard on a combined 400+ stations.

An Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and producer, Greenberg is the consummate insider when it comes to reporting the travel business as news. No other journalist brings his extensive level of expertise and experience to the travel process. Travel Weekly named him one of the most influential people in the travel industry, along with Al Gore, Bill Marriott and Richard Branson.

Greenberg was honored with News & Documentary Emmy Award as part of the Dateline NBC team for outstanding coverage of a breaking news story in a news magazine.

He is also a contributing writer to AARP The Magazine, The New Yorker, Parade,,,, and Bing Travel. He has been a featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Dr. Phil, and Larry King Live.

Greenberg is the author of the New York Times best-selling "Travel Detective" series. His most recent book, New Rules of the Road, offers his expert advice and insight on how to travel efficiently - and well - during tough economic times. His upcoming book, The Best Places for Everything, will be published by Rodale in Spring 2012. Previous titles include the New York Times best-sellers, Don't Go There! and The Complete Travel Detective Bible.

He was the creator, co-executive producer and host of CNBC's acclaimed prime-time specials, "Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life" and "Cruise Inc: Big Money on the High Seas."

His investigative work culminated in the one-hour NBC Dateline special entitled, "Black Box Mystery: The Crash of the Concorde," revealing for the first time what really happened when the supersonic aircraft crashed outside of Paris in 2000.

An expert in aviation safety and security, Greenberg is creator and co-executive producer of "Secrets of the Black Box," a special series for the History Channel which investigates the world's most tragic aviation disasters. He produces and co-hosts a series of one-hour television specials called "The Royal Tour," which feature personal, one-on-one journeys through various countries with their heads of state, including the President of Mexico, King of Jordan, Prime Minister of New Zealand and President of Peru.

His Web site,, is one of the premier travel news resources for consumers and industry insiders.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Hoke on August 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
As a seasoned traveler and having worked at a large hotel as Front Desk Manager I have to say most of what is given in this book is worthless. In fact if you try some of his "tactics" in a normal hotel you might get stuck with a hefty bill. I read this book to see how scammers might try to take advantage of my staff. None of my staff ever fell for any of what he suggests and many have tried.

Someone tried the double reservation game with us when we were fully booked. It ended up costing him two nights for both reservations. He tried to not pay and called his credit card to complain about it. Surprisingly the credit card company sided with us on that one. Hotels, as everyone else in the tourism industry, are onto the little scams this guy tries to put out as tips. Also reservations are a form of contract and depending on the state can be hard to break.

His advice on airlines was remedial at best even before 9/11. Now it is completely useless. I read a one page article on airline tips in a Reader's Digest and it had more practical advice.

You can be pretty sure that if you try any of these tactics you will not get an upgrade of any sort. More likely the staff will be onto you and look at you distrustfully for the duration of your travels with that company. If you want to insure bad seats, bad rooms, and bad everything else then try these tactics. Sometimes a bad customer is not worth having. On several occasions I "fired" guests. This is a good guide to making that happen. If you are a true frequent traveler then you should be getting perks already as a valued customer. You won't need this.

This author tries to paint travel industry professionals as some sort of enemy.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Given the massive changes in airline policies and security since 9/11, the vast majority of the advice in this book is no longer applicable. Greenberg focuses so much on flying - almost 240 of the book's 375 or so pages of content - that you'd think there was nothing more to travel than the flight. There's also a bizarre jump from an abbreviated pet-friendly lodging section (a whopping two paragraphs) smack into the middle of a discussion on how to get the best deal on a hotel room. Clearly, whoever edited this cut a big chunk out, and deprived the reader of who-knows-how-much information. There are some useful tips and hints in here, but not enough to justify owning it.
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97 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Heidi Hyndman on May 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
While returning from Florida a week ago, via a major airline, I was almost driven to air rage when the passenger ahead of me fully reclined his chair. My legs were practically around my neck and my tray table lodged in my abdomen. I decided that I would NEVER again fly this airline and that I would SEARCH for a book that had the insider information that I needed to get a better seat on a plane. This book is that and soooooo much more. DETAILED seat information on specific planes was just the beginning. I advise reading with a hightlighter as there is a lot of information to digest. He also includes a great reference section at the end with web sites, phone numbers, etc. For those who like to take an active part in travel plans, this book is a must read..........otherwise, call your travel agent and hope for the best!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is, without a doubt, the dumbest book I have ever read - on any subject.
The core of the book is based primarily on the author buying the cheapest possible tickets and hotel rooms, and then magically being upgraded to first-class and oceanfront suites at no extra charge - every time. All he does is ask for it. Apparently he has the world's greatest personality because everyone he meets can't wait to give him free upgrades. It is truly unbelievable how many people all over the world are tripping over themselves to help this guy out.
The author also stresses that his loyalty to one airline makes him a valued customer, and therefore results in frequent upgrades. I find this hard to believe since he always pays next to nothing for his tickets (something he constantly brags about). If airlines track their customer's flying histories, like he claims they do, his airline would see that he is nothing more than a freeloader who generates very little revenue for the airline compared to the amount of service he consumes. Why would an airline continually reward him for doing nothing for
them? It's not like he actually pays for anything he gets.
Every time I fly I always ask the gate agent for a complimentary upgrade to first-class, and every time I am politely denied, usually with a little chuckle from the agent. We all know that in the real world things don't work like the author claims they do. So if you believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy go ahead and buy this book. If not save your money.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. Huhn on March 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you would like to read Peter Greenberg's stand up act, get this book. If you are looking for clear, concise travel tips, keep looking. Reading this book, it feels like jokes outnumber useful tips 10 to 1. The first 10 pages are Jay Leno's take on traveling!?!? That's not what I call useful travel tips.
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