January 2010

Baggage song and dance adds fun to the end of a flight, Automatic license plate recognition — touches of big brother, Christopher Elliott on assertiveness when you travel.

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A couple of weeks ago my next door neighbor, who must travel often from here (St. Louis) to Chicago, summed it up when he said that flying is worse than going to the DMV. And this remark was made before the Christmas Day incident and the resulting increased (and inconsistent) attempts at improving security.

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In this economy, airlines are continually coming up with airfare specials and mileage promotions to increase business. Some of them are truly good deals, some of them have so much fine print as to be unusable, and some of them just seem designed to make as many people unhappy as possible. British Airways’ latest companion ticket offer is a case in point.

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If you ask anyone with any experience in railroad administration, railcar construction or laying railroad tracks, the current administration hoopla about starting to move toward constructing high-speed rail and putting people to work, is just that — hoopla. $8 billion is not enough to construct even one high-speed rail line, let along grants to 31 states for 13 rail projects.

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JAL joins Skyteam, Boeing considers 737 redesign and new engines, IRS says airline fees aren’t taxable

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Editor’s note: We have had plenty of comments about Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ (RCCL) decision to go forward on schedule with visits to Labadee. Ned Levi came forward with a story supporting the efforts. Janice Hough offered her thoughts on the issue. Now, we hear from a non-profit the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), that disagrees with RCCL’s decision to go forward with their stops in Labadee.

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Baggage bins above airline seats are getting more and more crowded. As baggage fees go up, passengers are carrying more on board aircraft. But more and more travelers are starting to gate-check luggage as well. It seems to be a loophole in the airline baggage check fee system.

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The Vancouver Winter Olympics will be taking place from February 12 through the 28th. Hotels are filling up, packages are being offered and leading up to the event, the Olympic Torch is crossing Canada.

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Sometimes booking a trip is an invitation to a potential nightmare, especially, when trying to use frequent flier miles, either with a free ticket or an upgrade. United Airlines’ new cash-and-miles frequent-flier upgrade rules are making the process fraught with questions.

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Yesterday, when flying from Washington DC to Boston, I was struck by the total change in the Washington Ronald Reagen airport stores from what I have seen for the past year. The souvenir stores seem to have changed as quickly as the Massachusetts electorate did. T-shirts, posters and coffee mugs used to proclaim a love affair with Obama. Today, that’s not the case.

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