Q. Why are International fares no longer in Travelocity's flex search feature?
A. Travelocity used to have the best flexible date search capabilities in the online travel industry. Then, mysteriously, United Airlines' fares disappeared from searches (repeated attempts to find out why United pulled its fare have failed). Now, international fares are gone.
From what we can gather, the US Department of Transportation is to blame. They asked that Travelocity include those often hefty fuel surcharges in their international fare results; but Travelocity simply doesn't have the technology to do this, since these and other taxes and surcharges are calculated when exact dates are chosen by the consumer. Although well-intentioned, in our opinion this DOT requirement is a disaster for the consumer. Travelocity, which runs on the Sabre fare reservation system (global distribution system, or GDS, in airline speak) was the last booking engine that provided international fares in truly flexible date searches (that is, searches within a 330 day window, as opposed to a 3 day or 30 day window).
We can only hope that this situation resolves itself soon. Meanwhile, however, you can find international flexible search fully functional on Travelocity's Asian affiliate, www.zuji.com.
Find Tour Companies' Reviews
Q. I recently read your suggestion on how to find a reputable travel company. Even though going through The American Society of Travel Agents and United States Tour Operators Association is handy, do you know of any other place where other travelers have posted their opinions on travel companies they have used?
A. Check out www.travelmb.com, a message board where a good number of tour companies are discussed by people who have used them. You can ask a question, and more often than not, someone who's had experienced with them will answer your question.
The site also includes discussions for cruise lines, resorts, and specific countries.
Tours to Italy
Q. I am looking into tours to Italy - the southern section to be exact and Sicily. I have tour books from several companies, and Perillo Tours has the exact itinerary I am interested in. Do you know anything about them?
A. Perillo Tours (800/431-1515) specializes in Italy and has been in business for decades. After checking out www.travelmb.com it seems that travelers who have been on vacations with Perillo have pretty good things to say about their experience. There haven't been a lot of postings, and the few that are available give Perillo glowing reviews, with the general consensus that Perillo tend to be more expensive than other companies. There are however, a few postings where they had a less than enjoyable time. No tour operator is perfect all the time, but most of the hotels listed in Perillo's 14 day South and Sicily tours received favorable ratings.