Saturday, November 8, 2008

Escape to Tahiti

Even French Polynesia is on sale! I'm very familiar with the properties in this promotion (see slideshows).

If you needed any additional enticement to visit Bora Bora, Vince Vaughn is staying at the St. Regis Bora Bora filming "Couples Retreat" with Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happpy Halloween!

Readers Beware. Here is a list of the 13 creepiest places in the world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tipping Guide

We all want to do the right thing when traveling, and tipping can be confusing. Travel & Leisure has just published a worldwide Tipping Guide which you may find useful.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Royal Princess

On Saturday, I toured Princess Cruises small ship "Royal Princess" at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. I'll post a review soon, but here's the Slideshow.

Celebrity Constellation

On Friday, I toured the "Celebrity Constellation" in Cape Liberty, New Jersey before she headed North on a Fall Foliage cruise. A detailed review will be posted soon but meanwhile, here's my Slideshow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

October Cruise deals

October is National Cruise Vacation Month according to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). Every cruise line has heaps of specials this month: reduced deposits, reduced fares, free upgrades, on-board credit, etc. A few companies are offering the best values for bookings made October 16-18, but most go through the end of this month. All sail dates and all destinations are included, although Fall 2008, and Europe and Alaska 2009 are especially promoted. The specials can be combined with past passenger and Virtuoso offers. Call me for more details!

My husband Michael and I just attended a seminar in Toronto on hosting Virtuoso Voyager and Explorer Club sailings. Perhaps you'll receive an invitation to join us on a future cruise. Later this month, I will be touring two ships in New York (stay tuned for more details). Here's a link to my website for these October cruise deals.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall is here

Now that summer’s over, you might consider thinking about your winter travel plans sooner rather than later. Although the media has been gloom-and-dooming about gas prices, airline crisis and economic downturn for months, the truth is there are some fabulous deals out there.

-The airlines have cut back their schedules, so booking early is more important than ever.
-Resorts are nervous about the economy so they have released great Early Booking incentives with discounted rates and free-night promotions (many require booking by October 15 for 2009 travel).
-Cruise rates are lower than last year according to trade publication Travel Weekly.
-Continental Airlines’ new service has decreased fares from Ithaca across the board.
-Fares to the Caribbean and Mexico are the same as last year.
-Fall travel deals are the best I’ve seen in years, so consider a getaway during Fall Break or Thanksgiving.

On a personal note, it’s been one year since my association with Linden Travel and it’s been a very successful one (even better than I had hoped). Linden Travel’s technological support, the Virtuoso amenities for resorts and cruises, and the International partnerships I’ve gained have all helped me provide better value and service than ever before. Thanks to all for your support, and I hope to help you soon with your future travels.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Non-stop Elmira-Orlando!

The Elmira-Corning Airport is getting non-stop service to Orlando’s Sanford Airport starting this November. Allegiant Airlines (no, I’ve never heard of them before either) is flying Thursdays and Sundays and the schedule is offered through February 2009 as of this posting. The flight times aren’t ideal: Elmira-Sanford 10:20am- 1:00 pm; Sanford-Elmira 7:00am-9:40am.

No way will I recommend them until service actually starts, and with such a limited schedule, I would never trust them for a cruise departure. I vividly remember Transmeridian flying to Sanford from Syracuse until they went belly-up stranding thousands (not my clients though). It is a decent option for folks visiting family and Thanksgiving flights are available for $89 each way plus tax (round-trip ticket is $196.50 with taxes included) if purchased before October 15. February Break prices are considerably higher already.

Allegiant Airlines is based in Las Vegas , so let’s hope that if this Florida service is successful they will consider adding a non-stop flight to Vegas too (a girl's gotta dream).

Here is the Ithaca Journal story.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

US Airways "stingiest airline"

A Time Magazine article describing the myriad fees airlines have recently imposed on the public has named US Airways the stingiest airline in the industry. We are not surprised. Not only do they charge for the first and second checked bag, but they also charge you for a soft drink in flight. They've also increased their fees for issuing tickets by phone, change penalties, and escort fees for kids traveling alone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sailing the South Seas


You must add Bora Bora to your list of places to see before you die. One terrific way of exploring French Polynesia is by ship, and there are lots of choices.

Nomade Yachting Bora Bora

This is my first choice for cruising in Paradise — superb cuisine, contemporary Polynesian décor and lots of special touches make this the ideal way to experience Tahiti. A maximum of 40 lucky guests are pampered in style by a crew of 43. (That’s me enjoying the sunset aboard the Ti'a Moana in the photo above.) Classic six-night itineraries are available from Bora Bora sailing Mondays year-round, which combine nicely with a few nights stay in an over-water bungalow.

Instead of flying, why not cruise to paradise? Holland America has my favorite South Seas itinerary aboard the ms Ryndam. This unique 30-day cruise starts and ends in San Diego, sailing to Hawaii and French Polynesia on Jan. 4, 2009. It’s perfect for snowbirds looking for a more exotic experience than a condo in Florida! Visit Maui, Kauai, both sides of the Big Island, and spend two days in Honolulu. (Be sure to explore the Polynesian Cultural Center.) Continue to Tahiti where you’ll enjoy Raiatea, Papeete, Moorea, and spend two perfect days in Bora Bora. The last port of call is Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas before sailing back to California.

Silversea has just announced that their luxury expedition vessel, Prince Albert II, will be cruising the most isolated and remote islands of French Polynesia with roundtrip itineraries from Papeete. From March through October 2009, there are 10 to 15 day itineraries exploring the Marquesas, Tuomotus, and Australs. Up to 132 passengers will go where very few tourists have gone before on what is sure to be a fabulous cruise experience.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is my favorite cruise line, but they sold the Paul Gauguin to another company and now merely manage ship operations. That means the cuisine and service are still first-rate but the accommodations may not be maintained to Regent’s usual high standards. Nevertheless, this remains a top choice for a classic itinerary on a luxury cruise. The ship’s 330 guests can enjoy ocean-view staterooms and suites (more than 50% of which have balconies), three restaurants, a watersports platform and spa. During school breaks, they feature a wonderful youth program for kids 9-17 through Jean-Michel Cousteau (and he occasionally sails aboard as a guest lecturer).
Special offers on Paul Gauguin

I have an exclusive promotion available aboard the Clipper Odyssey, a 110-passenger expedition vessel. These special Fall 2008 departures are hosted by Abercrombie & Kent’s superb guides.

Star Clippers
The Star Flyer is based in Papeete, cruising French Polynesia year-round with 7-, 10- and 11-night itineraries. These tall sailing ships are the real deal, and guests can help hoist the sails or climb the mast if they desire. The rest of the 170 guests can enjoy a relaxed adventure. This is a unique experience and a very good value, but cabins are small. Free air promotions are available for pre-holiday December sailings. They also have great deals for honeymoons (brides sail at 50% off; restrictions apply).

Princess Cruises
From October to December, Tahitian Princess sails 10-night itineraries roundtrip from Papeete. Pacific Princess takes over in 2009. These are Princess’ “small ships” with 670 passengers and most of the amenities of a larger vessel. Staterooms are small (and bathrooms are very small) unless you book a suite.

Charter your own yacht (with or without crew) for a completely private adventure with Tahiti Yacht Charters. I enjoyed a delightful afternoon on one of their four-bedroom catamarans and inspected several others and heartily approve. Swimming off the ship anchored in an isolated lagoon was absolute bliss.

Hop on a freighter to Paradise aboard the Aranui (much more exotic than back-packing across Europe).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Continental returning to Ithaca -yay!

Very exciting news for Ithacans: Continental Airlines is resuming service from Ithaca to Newark, New Jersey, starting this October. This will expand our travel options exponentially, especially for international travel. After months of gloom-and-doom reports and speculation that airline cutbacks could result in the airport closing altogether, we are thrilled with this new development. Travel industry gossip speculates that United is talking with Continental about forming an alliance after negotiations with US Airways fell through. Here’s the story from the Ithaca Journal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Travel Deals!

Fall for Europe.
There are some fantastic values for fall cruises in Europe and space is still available. Book before July 31 to receive special rates and amenities.


Head to the beach:
Hawaii, Mexico, Tahiti and the Caribbean all have fantastic offers for summer and fall travel. Discounted rates and free night promotions make flying your family to the beach an alternative to driving. Many 5-star resorts have special offers making a romantic long weekend irresistible. All Inclusive resorts have prices so low you can’t afford to stay home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

St. Regis Bora Bora review


We were met at the Bora Bora airport by a gorgeous yacht (a smaller boat is sent for smaller group arrivals), which whisked us to the resort’s reception dock: marble walkway under thatched roof. Spread out on 44 acres and five motus in Bora Bora’s lagoon, within sight of the Four Seasons (opening soon) and Le Meridien, this luxury resort opened in 2007.

My Deluxe Overwater Villa was 1,550 square feet big. The entry hall led to the living room with sofa, glass coffee table for viewing fish below, dining table for two and floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls. Sliding wood doors enclosed the spacious bedroom with King bed and luscious linens. All villas here include butler service, twice-daily maid service and ultra-modern amenities including not one but two 42-inch plasma TVs, Bose CD/DVD player, wifi, an espresso maker, etc. They also have snorkel gear, a beach bag with beach towels, and outdoor showers.

The bathrooms are enormous, with sliding mirrors that separate to allow for lagoon views from the shower and vanity. There is a separate WC, a walk-in closet, his-and-hers sinks, and an open shower with rain showerhead. Tempting bath products, including two varieties of bath salts, make the huge soaking tub irresistible. A glass panel in the floor of the bathroom reminds you this superb granite bathroom exists in paradise.

Sliding French doors from both the bedroom and the living room lead onto the deck, where there are loungers, a shaded dining area and steps leading into the lagoon. The water was sublime. My villa had a fantastic view of Mt. Otemanu from the living room.

The Overwater Villas are fairly close together, although it’s possible to strategically open blinds to create a sense of complete privacy from inside. Royal Overwater Pool Villas have unobstructed views so they will feel more private, but the Pool Beach Villas and Private Oceanfront Pool Villas are the most secluded. For families, there are the Royal Oceanfront Pool Villas with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (the resort has a Kid’s Program too). The Royal Villa was amazing, with three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a private pool, sauna, hammam, Jacuzzi and beach.

All the amenities you expect from a five-star resort are available, including a 13,000-square-foot Spa and Fitness Center, and a swim-up pool bar. There are three restaurants. Lagoon by Jean-Georges (Vongerichten) is the signature restaurant here, and the over-water setting with indoor and outdoor seating enhances the dining experience. Complimentary bicycles are available during the day, and a golf cart pickup is just a phone call away.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa


Located on a private motu across from Vaitape, the main town of Bora Bora (7 minutes by complimentary resort ferry), this property feels isolated but is very convenient to shops/restaurants. The traditional Tahitian décor is enhanced with lots of art and sculpture. The 160-foot infinity pool is stunning. Maru Spa is beach front with two tree house treatment rooms.

Premium Motu Bungalows and Motu Suites are steps to beach with private plunge pool. Two-bedroom Villa has two bathrooms (both with outdoor shower) and private infinity pool, making it perfect for families or two couples.

This Orient Express property has great specials for travel through December 21, 2008: Stay 4 nights (or more) in Overwater Bungalow, and the meal plan is free! Stay 6 nights (or more) in Overwater Bungalow and you get the Meal Plan plus a free night at the Radisson Plaza in Tahiti. The American Plan includes continental breakfast, a la carte lunch (main course plus dessert), three-course dinner. Contact me for more details.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

InterContinental Resort & Thalasso Spa, Bora Bora


This was a very sexy resort with contemporary Polynesian décor located on a small islet in Bora Bora's lagoon . They have a huge infinity pool with great Mt Otemanu view.

Their over-water Chapel (also with great Mt Otemanu view) can be used for private functions, as well as weddings where couples seem to walk on water to the alter (not legal service for Americans). Lagoon location allows groom to arrive by canoe in Traditional dress for a romantic Tahitian ceremony.

This property is the first hotel in the world to use deep sea water for all of it's air conditioning, which is a great idea in eco-hotel engineering. They credit Marlon Brando with the concept in the resort brochure (he owned an island in French Polynesia). The thermal heat transfer is extremely efficient, and the pure sea water is also used in the spa.

The Deep Ocean Spa, operated by Algotherm, was amazing (gorgeous setting with a variety of appealing treatments performed by French beauticians). Marine treatments, contouring treatments and Tahitian treatments are all offered on the spa menu. The spa facilities were the most extensive of the Tahitian resorts toured, including deep sea plunge, lap pool, deep chiller walk, etc. Please note the thalasso treatments utilize water from 90 meters deep, but it is not considered “Thalasso Therapy” (because the water has a bit too much copper to be regarded as therapeutic). I suggest clients start with a Thalasso Bath (hydro-massage in sea water) before the signature 90-minute Deep Blue Massage. Over-water couples' treatment room is available with glass floor so you can watch fish swimming below you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa review


This is a very special place. For those dreaming of a tropical escape in Tahiti, their fantasies will be fulfilled here. On a private motu off the island of Taha’a (the “vanilla island” which is a beautiful, unspoiled island without an airport). You fly to Raitea and are transferred to the resort by boat (or take the helicopter transfer from the Bora Bora Pearl for a spectacular arrival). This Relais & Chateaux property offers luxurious accommodations and facilities without sacrificing the authentic Polynesian spirit. Quiet and peaceful, with gorgeous grounds, we may have discovered paradise.

From my over-water bungalow, I could feed the fish from bed or the canoe-shaped tub by opening the glass tables! The separate shower was slate with coral accents. Room amenities included a cd-player, expresso machine, and bamboo vase with incense sticks stuck into sand.

The Beach Villas have private plunge pool and indoor/outdoor shower. For two couples traveling together, the Two-bedroom Royal Beach Villa is the same price as 2 bungalows with lots of extra space and amenities including a big pool and outdoor dining area. Three restaurants (with great food!), two bars, Manea Spa (see photo) and lots of activities are available if you can get yourself out of the water. I recommend snorkeling in their coral garden with a guide to see a multitude of brightly-colored fish.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

welcome home

I made it back safe and sound.

I made myself get up this morning so I can get back on East Coast time asap, and I feel OK. Not great, but OK. If only I could book a spa day at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa; I could really use a 90-minute “Deep Blue Massage” and Thalasso Bath.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Last day in Tahiti

Last night, we attended the Polynesian Show at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort in Papeete and it was amazing! The dances are a bit similar to Hawaii (fabulous grass skirts, those graceful hand gestures and there's some ukelele. The drumming is fast, the hips are hopping in every direction. Fire dancers blow huge plumes of flame and twirl flaming batons. The dancers were so dreamy that one woman almost got the vapors!

This morning we went to Le Marche, the local market. It's Sunday and the locals were out doing their shopping (no souveniers for sale today and the stalls closed before Church at 10am). Every kind of fish we saw snorkeling were on ice and machete-weilding guys decapitated and filleted them with lightning speed. Lots of French pastries, and produce too.

Then we had breakfast with the Tahiti Tourism Board, before heading to our last site inspection at Le Meridien and then lunch. Now I have a couple hours to relax, pack and get ready for the flight home. This has been an great trip and I love Tahiti. Stay tuned for resort reviews when I get home...

Bora Bora, Day 9 and 10

We managed to see 7 resorts in Bora Bora, which was all the Virtuoso properties: St. Regis, Bora Bora Nui (Starwood Luxury Collection), Bora Bora Pearl (Leading Hotels of the World), InterContinental Resort & Thalasso Spa, InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana, Hotel Bora Bora (AmanResort), and Bora Bora Lagoon (Orient Express). As rushed as it was, they tried to give us the grand tour, including a meal. I took good notes and lots of photos! It may really be the most beautiful island in the world- crystal clear water with so many shades of blue in the lagoon, and the main island's mountains are so dramatic and green.

The big news is that the Hotel Bora Bora is closing October 1 for two years. They will level the entire property and start from scratch, opening in time for their 50th anniversary with fewer rooms. They wouldn't show us the plans, but all the new units will have private pools and (gasp!) televisions. The resort will also have a pool, spa and gym. The style will be Aman meets Polynesia. It's a fabulous location, and the resort has a very loyal clientele who will resist change, but it's overdue. Most of their staff will be picked up by the Four Seasons, but they'll be offered their old positions when she re-opens...

My last night in Tahiti is at the InterContinental Resort Tahiti in Papeete. They had a great Polynesian show, by far the best we've seen. Lovely ladies in grass skirts, bare-chested men in pareos playing with fire, and great drums. I had a great view of the spectacular sunset and the island of Moorea from my room.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tahiti Day 8

Another busy day in paradise- we are the only people rushing in Tahiti! It was so sad to check out of my villa at the St. Regis. First stop was the InterContinental Thalasso for tour and breakfast. It was gorgeous- sexy contemporary Polynesian décor with a huge Thalasso Spa. Then we went to the Bora Bora Pearl Resort, which was re-scheduled from yesterday. This is a lovely property, one of the Leading Hotels of the World, with a very authentic feeling. The landscaping is especially appealing, and the spa was special. Then off to the InterContinental Le Moana for tour and lunch. Quick stop at Bloody Mary’s and then check into Hotel Bora Bora. We had just a couple hours to play before dinner.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tahiti Day 7

Another early morning for a breakfast meeting and a tour of the Spa and the Royal Villa at the St. Regis Resort in Bora Bora. This 3-bedroom villa has 5 bathrooms, a private pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steamroom and outdoor shower, and a professional kitchen. (Call me for rates!).

The Bora Bora Pearl had to cancel our site inspection and lunch this afternoon so I will FINALLY get a little to time to play. Shall I snorkel in the Lagoonarium, enjoy the infinity pool, relax at the beach or just swim from my villa? It is so beautiful here I can hardly belileve it.

Tonight we have dinner at the St. Regis' signature restaurant "Lagoon by Jean Georges" hosted by the General Manager and the Starwood Regional Manager. I think it'll probably be pretty good.

Tahiti Day 6

Woke up early to snorkel in the coral garden- beautiful with many fish. Took a dip from my bungalow before going to breakfast. Was very sad to leave Le Taha'a but was curious to see how the St. Regis compares. The resort's boat dropped us off directly at the airport in Raitea where we boarded the scenic 20 minute flight to Bora Bora. The airport is on a private motu (small island) where the St. Regis had a boat waiting to transfer us to the resort.

We had lunch and toured a few rooms before dashing off to the Bora Bora Nui Resort for a site inspection and dinner.

My over-the-water villa at the St. Regis is enormous with fabulous views of Mount Otemanu.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tahiti Day 5

Woke up at Le Taha'a Private Island Resort feeling wonderful. The bed in my over-the-water bungalow was great, the views were even better and this is paradise! Did a little work before breakfast and then took the ferry to th emain island of Taha'a for an island tour by 4x4 jeep. What a thrilling ride through tropical rainforest with lagoon views. We visited a vanilla plantation and a black pearl farm also.

Then we boarded the Ti'a Moana, a Bora Bora Cruises yacht. This intimate ship accommodates 40 guests and 40 crew members and it's gorgeous. Guests aboard said the food was fantastic. We enjoyed champagne and the sunset before returning to Le Taha'a for a wonderful dinner.

We have an early start tomorrow and will check into the St. Regis Bora Bora.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tahiti update

Day 3.
Got up early and went to a Catholic mass. The people are so charming and welcoming! Lots of wonderful singing. Then we toured the InterContinental, the Sheraton and the Sofitel. Moorea is very lush and mountainous with beautiful bays.

Day 4.
Got up early for a flight from Moorea to Raitea (via Papeete). Then we boarded a Tahiti Yacht Charter catamaran for a private cruise to Taha'a. Lunch was on-board and the swimming was sublime. The water is turquiose and crystal clear, soft and warm. The ship dropped us off at Le Taha'a Private Island Resort where we were met with music and Tahitian dancers and then we toured the property. Checked into my over-the-water bungalow-fabulous! Dinner was excellent, computer troubles, and finally bed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tahiti Day 1.

Friday May 2.

My flight itinerary had a major schedule change yesterday, and my new plane leaves 2 hours earlier than anticipated. Luckily, I followed my own advice (see April posting “avoid travel nightmares”). So I left the house in Ithaca a bit after 7am to catch the 720am bus to JFK. Got there about 2pm. Check-in and security were a breeze. They changed our departing gate 3 times but we left almost on time. The America Airlines flight to LA is completely full. The Air Tahiti Nui flight was also full, and on-time.

Day 2. Saturday May 3.

Golly, what a day. After 30 hours of traveling, we arrived in Tahiti. They gave us day rooms at the Sheraton Tahiti Resort, so we were able to shower (priceless!). Then we toured the resort and had breakfast, ferried to Moorea, toured of the Moorea Pearl, ate lunch. We had 45 min to get ready for dinner before the bus departed for the InterContinental for the resort tour and dinner show.

It's 11pm Tahiti time and we've been going non-stop since 530am! My computer tells me it's 5am back home, which means I've been running nearly 48 hours without sleeping in a bed!

My Garden bungalow has a private pool, so I took a quick dip during the 45-min break. The night sky is amazing and I've seen the Southern Cross! Saw dolphins and sea turtles at the InterContinental. Tomorrow is almost as busy...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Off to Tahiti!

Tomorrow’s the big day, I’m off to Tahiti! This is going to be an amazing trip: 8 nights on 4 islands with lots of resort tours.

2 nights on Moorea at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa
(tours of the InterContinental, Sofitel and Sheraton)

2 nights at Le Taha’a Private Island Resort & Spa
(tour a Tahiti Yacht Charter ship and HQ, and a Bora Bora Cruises yacht)

3 nights on Bora Bora at two resorts
-2 nights at St Regis Resort
-1 night at Hotel Bora Bora (Amanresort)
(tours of both InterContinentals, the Bora Bora Pearl, Bora Bora Nui, and Bora Bora Lagoon Resort.)

1 night on Tahiti at the InterContinental
(tours of Sheraton, Sofitel and Le Meridien)

Stay tuned!

I'll be back at my desk on Tuesday May 13. I won't have access to phone or voicemail while I'm gone, but I will have access to email (sserino@lindentravel.com). With the time difference, my response time will be a bit slower than usual, but I can still process air tickets and other urgent travel requests.

If you have a travel emergency (for a trip I've arranged) and you require immediate assistance, please call Linden Travel's 24/7 ResCenter for help at 800-639-8170. The "VIT" code is SE9L0.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cruise ship rescues shipwrecked dog.

Eight-month old cocker spaniel Snickers was rescued by NCL America's Pride of Aloha from Fanning Island. After spending over three months drifting in the South Pacific on a boat with his former owners, they washed ashore on Fanning Island. Two weeks later, the couple boarded an inter-island supply ship abandoning Snickers, who survived on his own for months. Las Vegas man Jack Joslin heard the tale and organized the rescue with the help of the Hawaiian Humane Society and the cruise ship. The lost dog is saved, and will be flown to Vegas to meet his new owner.

Here's a link to the story from Honolulu:
http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080417/NEWS01/804170338/1001/LOCALNEWSFRONT

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Delta/Northwest merger

Delta’s proposed takeover of Northwest has the pundits buzzing about what it’ll mean to the airline industry, stock market, and business travelers. Big surprise, but there’s no mention of what it means to us here in Ithaca, N.Y. So for the record, here’s my take on the merger from a Central New York perspective.

Pray that Delta lets us keep our two daily flights between Ithaca and Detroit. The city of Ithaca (and Cornell) worked so hard to persuade Northwest to test this market and gave them so many economic incentives for the first couple years that it would be tragic to lose these vital flights now. While the 34-seat Turboprop planes are often full, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are profitable. The fact that the flights are actually operated by Mesaba Aviation for Northwest makes it even more complicated. Who knows if Delta will choose to continue these contracts with regional carriers? On the one hand, Delta wants the expanded market that Northwest’s route network adds. On the other hand, both airlines have been reducing domestic capacity.

Prices will rise. They have to rise, because at today’s oil prices the airlines cannot continue selling seats below cost and survive. Budget airlines are collapsing under the burden. More legacy airlines will merge, and in today’s Washington the mergers will be approved.

We vividly recall the system-wide meltdown when US Airways and America West tried to merge their reservation systems. But that shouldn’t be a big problem for Delta and Northwest. USAir switched from Sabre to America West’s unique system, but Delta and Northwest already use the same reservation system: Worldspan. Their agents won’t even need to be retrained!

The one thing you don’t have to worry about is your frequent flier miles. Delta wants Northwest frequent fliers to become loyal Delta customers and they will honor the miles you’ve earned. With the expanded flight network, there will be a lot more places to go on your mileage award tickets.

Nothing will change until after 2009. And I’d rather see airlines merge and prices increase than lose major carriers altogether.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Avoid travel nightmares!

The Miami Herald posted a travel horror story today with some good tips about airline policies for travelers. Unfortunately, the article missed the most important lesson to be learned from this couple’s bad experience.

Here’s the story:
http://www.miamiherald.com/986/story/486308.html

Travel agents know the dangers of flying with two tickets for one trip. In the trade, we call this “split ticketing,” and it is not the safest way to fly. As the couple in the story learned, the airline’s responsibility to the passenger ends at the ticket’s final destination regardless of the passenger’s actual final destination.

Best practice: Buy one ticket all the way through to your final destination. Then the airline is legally required to get you there and re-accommodate you at no charge if necessary. There are several airlines that fly from L.A. to Rome avoiding a change in airline. This couple also could have purchased a ticket on Alitalia from L.A. to Rome that included the American flight to JFK, and may have cost a little less than the two separate tickets. Even if it cost a little more, it would have been a much better value for this couple.