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American Airlines was the slowest to respond to customers affected by the hurricane, summer holidays can increase productivity, snakes fail to make it onto a plane, and more. Here are the stories that travellers are buzzing about:

Study ranks airline customer service during Hurricane Irene
Despite the cancellation of more than 11,000 flights, Hurricane Irene caused less damage than originally expected. East coast airports reopened yesterday, and most airlines waived change fees and offered refunds for flight cancellations over the weekend. Of course, some airlines proved better than others at assisting customers during the ordeal. Stella Service released a study rating airlines' customer service on Friday. US Airways kept customers waiting an average of only two minutes, 38 seconds, while American Airlines customers waited an industry-worst one hour, 38 minutes. The study also rated the Twitter response times of nine major airlines. While Delta was one of the slowest airlines to answer the phone, the carrier was among the top in Twitter responses, answering 100% of tweets in an average of 14 minutes. United, AirTran and American didn't respond to any Tweets, according to the study. The Los Angeles Times posted a graph rating Twitter customer service.

American Airlines steps up Business Class amenities
While American Airlines may have been among the worst carriers at assisting customers during the hurricane, the carrier seems to be increasing customer service for its highest-paying passengers. The airline announced Monday that it will begin offering "turndown service" for some first-class passengers. While American still has a long way to go if it wants to top Etihad Airways' "Diamond First", the new turndown service -- which includes slippers, pyjamas and duvets -- will help American catch up to the competition in terms of business class amenities, USA Today reports. First-class passengers on select flights to London Heathrow can begin enjoying the new features Thursday.

Snakes on a plane... almost
The TSA thwarted a man at Miami International Airport from bringing snakes on a plane, after finding seven serpents and three tortoises hidden in his pants last week. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife confiscated the animals and police arrested the reptile smuggler for trafficking illegal wildlife, MSNBC reports.

"A 2010 survey indicated that the average American accrues 18 vacation days and uses only 16. The average French worker takes more than twice the vacation time. To some, this statistic encapsulates the difference between American and European workers. We're productive. They're lazy.  In fact, it might say the opposite. ...The secret to being an effective worker is not working too hard."

The Atlantic reports that taking summer vacation helps increase productivity. As the most popular month for vacation, August may be the least productive month in quantifiable financial terms. But the extra time off in the summer can help increase productivity in the long run -- even if, as German professor Siegfried Lehrl suggests, a warm holiday does temporarily lower your IQ.


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