Travel Q&A

Don't Miss a Single Travel Tip!
Follow Us on Facebook
I already like Airfarewatchdog on Facebook

You can submit your own question to us at askgeorge@airfarewatchdog.com. We will try to answer as many as possible.

Current posts | Categories

Insurance + Tour Company Coverage

Q. My family has a very expensive international trip coming up, leaving from New York's JFK; however, it is up to us to fly to JFK airport from our home airport. Our tour company trip insurance only covers the tour company's portion of the trip, which begins with the flight from JFK. If our flight to JFK happens to be cancelled and we missed the connection, who is responsible for the expense?

A. If you don't make your flight to JFK, chances are you'd be responsible. And never buy insurance from your tour company! You'd be better off buying from a third party, such as those you'll find on Insuremytrip.com, a comparison shopping site. To be on the safe side, you should always leave a HUGE amount of connection time for JFK connections.

One Carry-on, One Personal Item

Q. I plan on flying with my purse, my laptop case, and with my wheeled bag. Would three items be too much for carry-ons? My purse and laptop always go under the seat and my bag in the overhead compartment.

A. Unfortunately, many airlines would prohibit you from carrying on three items. I was recently stopped from boarding with a suitcase, backpack and a shopping bag. Luckily, I was able to cram the contents of the shopping bag into the other two items but the gate agent was not very pleasant about it. So I recommend putting the laptop in your wheeled suitcase, or doing whatever it takes to satisfy the 1 carry-on/1 personal item rule.

Excess Valuation & Receipts

Q. If you purchase the excess valuation insurance for your trip, do you still have to produce receipts? It seems unreasonable to have to keep receipts for every item that you pack.

A. Most likely you'd be asked to produce receipts and when you check in you'll need to describe the contents of your bag. It's always a good idea to have receipts for things you purchase for insurance purposes in case you need to make a claim with your home or renters insurance, your credit card company, your airline or whatever. For those who don't know what excess valuation is and why you might need it, we'll gladly explain.

Should Anything Arise...

Q. Should anything arise before our upcoming vacation, is it possible to get travel insurance that would cover cancellations for any reason?

A. There is such a thing as cancel for any reason insurance, however the premiums are considerably higher than for regular travel insurance; plus cancellation typically must be made at least 48 hours before departure and you won’t get 100% of your expenses refunded.

You might try comparing policies on sites like TravelGuard, InsureMyTrip, or Squaremouth.

O'Hare Connections

Q. How challenging is Chicago O'Hare to navigate? Is one hour enough time to make a connection?

A. Supposedly it is if you’re traveling to and from a United flight… but it's always a good idea to allow yourself a little extra time, especially if connecting to the last flight of the day, or if you're connecting to an international flight.

And certainly leave extra time if you’re the slightest bit mobility impaired, or make arrangements in advance for a cart to drop you directly at your connecting gate.

Theft of Passport Photocopy

Q. Recently, my husband and I had photocopies of our passports removed from unlocked exterior pockets of our suitcases. They were put there in case of an emergency. We have traveled this way for over 20 years with no problems. This is the first time the documents have been stolen. The theft has already been reported to the managers of the hotels we stayed at while we were on tour.  We need advice on what to do now. Should we report the loss to the US passport agency?

A. There shouldn't be any real reason for concern, so long as long as it was only a photocopy and not the original. Still, it wouldn't hurt to report it anyway and, in the off chance that someone attempts to use your personal details for some nefarious purpose and you suddenly have to clear it up, at least you'll be able to refer back to having reported the theft. Again, just to be on the safe side.

While having a copy of your passport is a great idea, you might try keeping a scanned copy in Google Docs, Dropbox, or someplace similar.

This Seat Is Taken

Q. Do airlines block out a large section of seats to make it appear there are fewer seats remaining? When our airline cancelled the final leg of our trip, we reviewed the airline website for flights returning a day before as well as after our original return date. None of the alternate flights offered adjoining seats. Yet, when we called the airline, they immediately assigned us two seats together in a section that appeared to be completely filled on their website. How likely is it that we will be reassigned seats?

A. Yep, some airlines do block out seats, even if the plane is half-empty, and sometimes a call to the airline will sort things out. They do this in part to accommodate last minute business customers who are flying on higher-priced “walk up” fares, to cater to their preferred frequent travelers, and also, in some instances, to entice consumers to purchase “premium” seat assignments for a fee. Even if you end up not sitting together, it’s always possible to ask fellow passengers to trade seats. A good strategy is to offer to buy the accommodating passenger a couple of cocktails on board, or bring along some Starbucks gift cards ($10 should do the trick) as a thank-you.

Mistake Fare Not Honored

Q. My friends and I recently discovered that Ethiopian Airlines had a special on flights from NYC to Johannesburg for $225.08. It seemed like a good deal, so we booked the tickets through Priceline.
 
Three weeks later, we received an email informing us that the tickets were invalid and the fare had been issued by mistake.

Priceline is only offering a refund. Shouldn't Priceline and Ethiopian Airlines have to honor the initial fare? While I understand that the fare was issued in error and priced abnormally low but they waited 3 weeks to inform people that the tickets would not be honored. By that point, my friends and I had already paid for our hotel rooms, all non-refundable.

I know in the past airlines have honored mistake fares. Why not now?

A. In many cases the airlines are required to honor these mistake fares. It really comes down to who or what is at fault for posting the fare in the first place, the carrier or the OTA? This is why it's always a good idea to hold off on making additional land or tour arrangements until 100% sure that the airline will be required to honor the mistake fare.

The Airlines Gave Away Our Seats

Q. We were scheduled to fly from Chicago to Orlando via Atlanta for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Our flight from Chicago to Atlanta was delayed due to weather so we ended up arriving at the gate for our connecting flight to Orlando (the last flight of the day) with just five minutes to spare, only to learn that Delta had given our seats away to standby passengers. As a result, we couldn’t get to Orlando in time for the wedding, which was scheduled for the following morning. Under what circumstances are airlines allowed to give away your seat to standby passengers? Why do they do this?

A. You really put yourself on the last flight of the day flying through Atlanta? Whenever you’re flying for a “can’t-miss” event (wedding, funeral, cruise departure, important business meeting), it’s a bad idea to take a connecting flight and a worse one to schedule your arrival at the last minute on the last flight of the day. To answer your question, Delta probably gave away your seat because they figured you wouldn’t make the connection and a standby passenger is the proverbial bird in hand. This has happened to me as well, and it’s very annoying, but apparently it works for the airlines’ bottom lines otherwise they wouldn’t keep annoying passengers like this.

Insurance for Summer Vacation

Q. My family and I are planning to visit Florence and Rome next August. I'd like to buy travel insurance so that we are all covered in the event one of us should become ill. We do have group insurance through work but overseas travel is not covered. I don't know what type to buy and I have read stories of people buying insurance only to have their claims later denied because of an honest misunderstanding of coverage. Please advise.

A. The number one reason why people make a travel insurance claim is illness or injury before the trip departs, and some credit cards have built-in insurance for this, so you might want to check your coverage (you have to buy the trip with the credit card). But travel insurance is often more convenient for covering illness that occurs abroad. Whatever policy you decide on, make sure it includes medical evacuation coverage to transport you back home to a hospital of your choice. You don't want to become ill and get stuck in a hospital abroad for several weeks. It can be very expensive to arrange a med-evac flight back home (as in $50,000 or more). You can use squaremouth.com or insuremytrip.com to compare travel insurance policies.

  • Real deals from your departure city
  • Verified by our Dealhounds
Advertisement
http://rd.airfarewatchdog.com/?ad_user_tracking=%5Bsource%3D%2Ctaparam%3D%2Csupmt%3D%5D