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SPECIAL FEE REPORT: Traveling with Pets

May 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Pets | 7 comments

Since Southwest just announced it will soon start transporting pets – in the cabin, only – I thought this would be a good time to review the other airlines’ policies on pet travel.

Here’s a list of 12 carriers and their domestic fees/charges for transporting Fido or Fluffy. Just click on the airline name, and you’ll be linked to that airline’s specific pet policy.

NOTE! Do review the policy of your carrier before you and your best friend take off – some airlines won’t carry pets to certain destinations, and others don’t allow specific breeds at certain times of the year (United, for example, won’t transport “short-nosed” breeds – think Pugs – in the heat of the summer).

AIRLINES


PETS – CABIN

PETS – CARGO

AirTran

$69

No Pets

Alaska

$100

$100

American

$100

$150

Continental

$125

Must Call

Delta

$150

$275

JetBlue

$100

No Pets

Midwest

$125

$150

Northwest

$150

$275

Southwest

$75

No Pets

United

$125

$250

US Airways

$100

$100

Virgin America

$100

$No Pets

See all airline fees on FareCompare’s U.S. Domestic Fee Chart – right here.

FEE ALERT: Southwest Adds “Minor Child” Fee, Raises 3rd Bag Fee

May 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Southwest,Travel Tips | 1 comment

Compared to most fees, I see these new charges by Southwest as “small potatoes”. Tell me what you think…

New “Minor Child” Fee: beginning June 17, Southwest will add a $25 each way service charge for children ages 5 -11 traveling alone (some airlines charge as much as $100 for this service).

3rd Checked-Bag Fee: Southwest remains one of the few airlines that will let you check two bags for free, but its fee for a third checked-bag (or overweight bag) now rises from $25 to $50. Southwest figures this will effect only about 1% of its customers.

See more details on Southwest’s website.

Good News, Sparky – Southwest to Start Transporting Pets!

May 29, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Multimedia,Pets,Southwest | 3 comments

For years, Southwest Airlines has a “No Pets” policy – but now, that’s changing.

Starting June 17, the no-frills airline will begin transporting small cats and dogs – in the cabin only. Pets will not be accepted as cargo.

The cost will be $75 each way, and pets will need reservations.

More rules: pets must travel in a carrier that fits under a seat – a carrier that is large enough so the animal can stand up in it and turn around – which typically limits transportation to animals weighing 15 pounds or less. Pets will have to stay in their carriers throughout the flight. Also note that a pet carrier counts as a passenger’s carryon bag.

All airlines are looking for ways to snag some incremental revenue, and I think the pet community will be just fine with this new charge. You can see the full details here – but we can tell you that, per Southwest, pets will not be eligible for frequent flier miles.

For the highlights of the new pet policy – see the Southwest video, below.

REMINDER: Passport Deadline Looms

May 28, 2009 | Posted in: Destinations,Security,Travel Tips | 2 comments

We’ve blogged about this before but I think it’s time for another reminder:

Starting June 1, you will need a passport if traveling throughout the Western hemisphere – a passport or the new passport card or other new ID — and you can see full details on here on the U.S. State Dept. website.

Some of you may be saying, wait – didn’t we always need a passport to get into a foreign country? Yes – if traveling by air. But for years, road-trippers could get into Mexico, for instance, with little more than a birth certificate. The new rules apply to land and sea travelers, so cruise-lovers, take note.

Read up on the rules, so you’re not caught unprepared.

New Take on an Old Frustration – Squashing Your Carryon into the Bin

May 28, 2009 | Posted in: Flight Attendants,Passengers | 1 comment

Just read a witty post by TheStreet’s Stanley Bing – it was a simple story about an everyday frustration that hit home with me – the power-mad flight attendant who messes up your neatly stowed carryons.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs:

“As always, there is always one butthead who appears just as the doors are closing and requires immediate assistance for seating and stowage. Indeed, here he came, and with him, following close by, a very neat, very tidy, very trim gate agent with the passenger’s wheely bag in tow.

The flight attendant began to look for an overhead compartment to put his bag. He selected ours, which was already rather full not only with our possessions but those of several others.

The flight attendant opened the compartment door and immediately began violently jamming the new bag into a space that he perceived existed somewhere in the interstitial zone between everybody’s luggage.” - Stanley Bing, TheStreet

There’s no big denouement – just a laugh-out-loud take on a situation we’ve all been in.

Smart Tips: Do’s and Don’ts for Safer Hotel Stays

May 28, 2009 | Posted in: Tips and Tricks,Travel Safety,Travel Tips | 5 comments

Whenever the economy goes sour, we start hearing at least anecdotal evidence about an increase in crime – especially, theft and burglary.

According to USA Today, some experts say the hotel industry is being hit – or maybe it’s just that hotels can be easy targets-of-opportunity — anytime. Now, I generally feel perfectly safe in the hotels I stay at, but there are precautions we should all take — it’s a matter of common sense.

Here are some of my favorite tips – safety “do’s” and “don’ts” that will help travelers enjoy a safer stay in their accommodations. Take a look:

  • DO – shut and lock your room door anytime you’re inside, no matter how briefly — and always use the bolt and chain.
  • DON’T – bring expensive jewelry with you when you travel. If you absolutely must, keep it in the hotel safe – but you might want to ask about the extent of the hotel’s liability, just in case the safe is robbed.
  • DON’T - leave anything valuable in your room, ever. I know you don’t want to haul your laptop with you everywhere you go, but sorry – you really must, unless it will fit in the hotel safe – or unless you can afford to lose it.
  • DON’T - open the door to strangers. And I suggest, don’t order-in food – unless you’re prepared to pick it up at the front desk. If you’re too tired to go out to eat, pick up something on your way back to the hotel.
  • DON’T – meet that online “match” in your hotel room. You know that boring advice about getting together with your internet date for a cup of coffee in a public place during the daytime? Follow it.
  • DO – discard that little cardboard folder that your room card-key came in, the one that has the name of your hotel and room number on it. No point in letting strangers know where to find you, and yes – the front desk will be happy to remind you what your room number is.
  • DO - have fun. But not too much fun. Drunken tourists are easy marks.
  • DON’T – hesitate to contact the front desk if you notice anything odd about your room or see people hanging about in the hallway that shouldn’t be there. Insist the desk send someone to investigate.

Readers, what have I forgotten?

Delta Changes Course (Partially) on International Checked Bag Fee

May 27, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Delta | 1 comment

Back in April, I alerted you to a change in Delta’s International checked-bag fee policy; the airline said it would charge $50 for a second checked-bag – to all international destinations.

Well now Delta is saying, the charge still stands – but only for flights to-and-from the U.S. and Europe.

It seems Delta’s major competitors did not leap aboard this bandwagon with anywhere near the enthusiasm shown for domestic bag fees, and – since the carrier was all alone out there, it decided to limit it to European flights. It goes into effect July 1.

And remember, you are exempt from this fee if you are in first and business class, if you are an elite frequent flier or are active military.

American Airlines Joins the “Cashless Cabin Carriers”

May 27, 2009 | Posted in: Airline News,Ask Rick,Tips and Tricks | 3 comments

I love this phrase: “Your money’s no good here!”

Except, these days –on the airlines anyway –that usually means — whip out your credit card.

American Airlines is the latest to go cash-only – the new policy will kick in June 1, for flights in the U.S. and Canada.

American joins quite a crowd – other carriers that only accept credit or debit cards include Southwest, Frontier, JetBlue, AirTran, Midwest, United, Virgin America and Alaska. For some, this may seem a tad inconvenient – but believe me, it’s a blessing for the flight attendants, who no longer have to go up and down the aisles begging for change.

I’ve also heard the suggestion that it could make the airlines more money (imagine that!) – and I can see it – sort of like running a tab in your favorite tavern.

TIP: If you have a youngster traveling solo on a cashless flight, talk to the airline ahead of time – I’m confident some sort of arrangement can be made so the child doesn’t go hungry (that’s assuming they’ll serve any food onboard).

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