Doug Lansky dedicates The Titanic Awards “To all the travelers who overcame annoyances and obstacles to make it to their destinations and then willingly decided to set out traveling again.” If you’re an occasional traveler and suffer through an ant infested hotel room, a flight with repeated delays, nasty food, or nasty locals you might think, “Why let one bad experience sour you on travel?” When you read some of the experiences outlined in The Titanic Awards, you may wonder if any of these travelers ever left home again.
The Titanic Awards details — celebrates — the very worst in travel. Winners of Titanic Awards are 1) chosen by survey (Readers’ Choice Award); 2) named in travel industry studies (Official Study Award); or 3) based on specific incidents garnered from media reports (Editor’s Choice Award). Each award is identified by category. There are also reminiscences from travel writers about some of their very worst — and sometimes scariest — travel experiences.
There are five parts (think “divisions”) of Titanic Awards; the first is air travel. How bad is air travel? It merits 74 pages of awards. If you travel domestically, or to western European capitals, you envision flight delays, lost luggage, stale pretzels, unfair fees, and rowdy passengers. But if you think globally, you find those things are mild compared to traveling with chickens and livestock in the aisles or having half a wing ripped off by another plane. Wonder what airport, of the 50 biggest, has the worst security? Bad news, it’s in the United States — LAX. Other awards in this division go to the most inexperienced pilot, worst napping (by pilots), and rudest flight attendants. There are awards for airports, facilities, policies, food, breast-aversion, and personnel. And what airport has the worst shopping in the world? Ooops. It’s LAX. Again.
“Surface Transport — Overland and Sea Travel” is 34 pages crammed with such tidbits as: Italy is the country with the worst drivers, the worst traffic jams are in Shanghai, and India wins for both worst highways and “country with the worst back roads.” Okay, so much for driving; what country has the worst trains? India. Want to rethink that visit to the Taj Mahal?