Friday, July 31, 2009

Know Your Rights if You're Bumped from a Flight

Even though there has been a significant decrease in air travel recently, airlines are operating fewer flights, so planes are still packed.

Typically airlines sell more tickets then there are actual seats, in anticipation of cancellations and no-shows, or sometimes airlines have to substitute a smaller plane with fewer seats. These things sometimes result in a shortage of seats. Last year, approximately 63,000 passengers were bumped from their flights, according to government figures, and this year is shaping up the same way.

It is good to know that if you get bumped, the federal government has set rules on bumping and occasionally fines airlines for breaking them. This month, the Transportation Department fined Delta Air Lines $375,000, although it may waive about half if Delta improves its procedures for handling oversold flights.

Airlines must ask for volunteers first, and pay passengers some type of compensation who are bumped against their will. If you are bumped from a domestic flight, the airline must pay you the price of a one-way ticket, up to $400 cash if you are rescheduled to reach your destination between 1-2 hours of the original arrival time. If it is longer, the maximum doubles to $800.

While there are federal rules on bumping, there is no requirement for airlines to provide accommodations or meals for passengers who are stranded overnight, even if it's the carrier's fault, according to the Transportation Department.

Sometimes gate agents put out a sign or simply announce that they're looking for volunteers to skip the flight. It's often best to wait until departure time nears to accept any type of offer, as the bidding will usually get stronger. Experts warn about accepting travel vouchers, as they can be hard to redeem, especially at peak travel periods. Make sure you understand any limitations before accepting one.
Since summer airline travel often comes with delays, experts advise that you know what flights are available if yours is cancelled. Also, if your flight should be delayed or cancelled, get on your laptop or phone to see if you can rebook, rather than waiting in long lines.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent for assistance booking your next trip!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some of Mexico's Beaches are Being Restored

In an effort to preserve Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, Cancun, the Riviera Maya and Cozumel are having their beachfronts restored in time for the winter vacation period this year. The plan will add sand to an 11-mile stretch of beachfront, helping the area guard against erosion for the next 10 years.

In five months, the dredging company that presented the winning bid, Mexicana de Dragados, plans to extract nearly 247 million cubic feet of sand from underwater and use it to widen the beachfront. When the project is finished, Cancun’s beaches will be 44 yards wide, Playa del Carmen’s 33 yards wide and Cozumel’s 22 yards wide.

The project is supported by the Quintana Roo State Government and Tourism Secretariat, Mexico’s Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (SEMARNAT) and Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission, by a 900-million-peso (68-million-dollar) trust with federal, state and municipal (Riviera Maya, CancĂșn and Cozumel) government funds.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Airlines Increasing Baggage Fees

Airlines are raising fees again, this time it's for checked bags. American and Delta have recently joined US Airways, United and Continental in raising fees for checked baggage.

Each of these airlines are now charging $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second bag checked at the airport. Some of them offer a $5 discount for checking your bags in online.

Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines are still charging $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second.

Southwest Airlines is still allowing checked bags for free.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Looking for an Inexpensive Trip? How about Argentina?

Looking for an inexpensive, yet exotic trip? Argentina is a great choice right now! With the Argentine Peso at 3.80 to the US Dollar, the lowest it's been in over 6 years, the dollar goes farther here than most other countries.

There is plenty to see and do in this beautiful country, from Ushuaia in the far south to Iguazu Falls in the north, and Mendoza and it's beautiful vineyards to the west. Buenos Aries is known as the Paris of the West and is as beautiful as the major cities in Europe.

If you've ever wanted to visit Argentina, now is the time!

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next vacation!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Former Nuclear Missile Site Now a Tourist Attraction

A former nuclear missile launch center that closed as the Cold War was winding down, opened on Monday to a public curious to see what life was like at the once-top secret site.

The Ronald Reagan Minuteman site in eastern North Dakota is surrounded by wheat and soybean fields and looks pretty much the same as it did in 1997 when it was still being used.

Visitors can now go underground and view where Air Force officers once sat to wait for a possible nuclear war. It was their job to monitor 10 nearby Minuteman III nuclear missiles - and to launch them if ordered. The former living quarters, a building that stands about 60ft above the underground nuclear missile control center, still has the kitchen equipment, televisions, pool table and magazines it did when the site was closed.

On Monday a freight elevator took about 30 visitors to two cavernous rooms that resemble railroad tunnels, where the underground air smelled faintly of diesel fuel and parts of the floor were sticky with hydraulic fluid. One room housed diesel generators and air conditioners to cool the equipment. Another was for two officers who worked 24-hour shifts.

The missile site, about three miles north of Cooperstown and about 70 miles northwest of Fargo, is one of a handful of US locations that commemorate the Cold War. The National Park Service operates a former Minuteman II launch center and missile silo in South Dakota. In Arizona, historic preservationists operate a former Titan nuclear missile site.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Climbing Uluru (Ayers Rock) May be Banned in the Future

Under a new plan released on Wednesday July 8, 2009, by the National Parks Service of Australia, climbing Uluru, Australia's famous red sandstone monolith, may be banned in the future, citing cultural, safety and environmental reasons.

Climbing the rock has long been opposed by the Nguraritja, the Aboriginal tribe who regained title to the land in 1985 and consider it sacred territory. The tribe and federal parks service jointly manage the site, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There are signs at Uluru that say it is a spiritual place for Aborigines and warning that the steep, slippery climb can be dangerous. More than 30 people have died while climbing the rock, which is higher than the Eiffel Tower and about six miles in circumference.

The park draws about 350,000 visitors a year. The parks service said the number of visitors that choose to climb Uluru has dropped to about 38 percent from 74 percent in 1990.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What to do in Adelaide, Australia?

Adelaide is the capitol of South Australia. This vibrant city sits between the Adelaide Hills and the Gulf St. Vincent. It is adorned with pristine beaches, numerous water sports and activities, national parks and is surrounded by parkland.

Some of the most popular features of Adelaide are;

Glenelg is an historic and very popular beachside community. It offers many restaurants, cafes, and shopping.

South Australian Museum was founded in 1856. It is home to the largest collection of indigenous Australian artifacts in the world. Open daily, entry is free!

National Wine Center of Australia promotes awareness of over 10,000 Australian wines. There is an extensive list of wines available for tasting, and one can even talk with a hologram of famous Australian winemakers. Open year round, except for national holidays.

Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve approximately 25 miles outside of Adelaide. It was created as a reserve for endangered Australian wildlife in 1969. Today it is home to over 100 species of native birds and mammals. It is a great place to visit for an opportunity to get up close with Australian wildlife in a protected environment. Open daily, free admission!

Art Gallery of South Australia is renowned for the extensive collection of Australian art, and housed in a beautiful histroc building. Open daily 10am-5pm. Admission is free. Entry fees may apply to some special exhibitions.

Adelaide Zoo is home to over 1,800 animals and almost 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish exhibited in magnificent botanic surroundings. Open daily 9:30am-5pm.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens is comprised of three botanic gardens, Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga, that provide visitors with an exceptional range of cultural, recreational, educational and scientific facilities which enhance people’s enjoyment and understanding of the plant world.

The seaside suburb of West Beach. Its white sands on the eastern shore of Gulf Saint Vincent and boating lakes are some of it's most notable features.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to get started planning your Australia vacation today!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Continental Now Offering Flights to Cuba

On Tuesday Continental Airlines began offering direct flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Havana, Cuba.

Cuba Travel Services Inc. will offer a chartered flight every Tuesday on a Boeing 737-800 operated by Continental Airlines. The flight will take off from LAX at 11 a.m.

Most travel from the United States to Cuba has been banned since an embargo was imposed on Cuba in 1962. Cuban-Americans were allowed to visit their families under various policies, however. About five years ago, President George W. Bush placed a three times a year limit on such trips for Cuban-Americans. His administration also more tightly regulated who could accompany them as family members on the trips.

President Obama repealed those restrictions in April. Cuba Travel says it hopes its new flights will be possible with the 100,000 Cuban-Americans living in California, some 85,000 of those in Los Angeles. The company also hopes to serve "journalists, government officials and researchers, as well as sports teams, educational facilities and other groups."

Cuba Travel Services was formed by a group of Los Angeles business professionals to facilitate a better understanding between the United States and Cuba.