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Lost and Found

Q. I left my e-reader on my last flight. I was right in the middle of a very intriguing book. Is there any way I can retrieve it or is it a lost cause?

A. Although it may seem that most items left on planes do not get reunited with the rightful owner, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of getting your lost item back. First and foremost, we suggest to never put anything of value in the seatback pocket. Those are the blackholes of airplanes. It is just too easy to forget something in there during the rush to exit the aircraft. Another good idea is to label your valuables with contact information allowing the good samaratain who finds your item to contact you.

After realizing you have forgotten something, it is best to contact someone in person at the airport baggage office as soon as possible. If you have already left the airport far behind, we have compiled a list of links to report lost items on airline websites. Check out how to get your items back here.

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Mumbai Fares Lower Than London? Huh?

Q. Why is it that British Airways currently has a fare from Orlando to Mumbai for $970.00 for the months of Nov, Jan and Feb? I cannot get a round trip to London for less than $1,133. It doesn’t make sense considering Mumbai is twice the distance! I just can’t figure it out!

A. There are a couple of things at play here. For starters, there’s not a lot of competition on the Orlando-London nonstop route. Airlines often charge more for nonstop flights than for connecting flights, because nonstops are in higher demand.

Then there are taxes, a whole lotta taxes! When you depart from any UK airport (excluding Belfast), you pay a passenger duty of about $130. If you’re merely transiting through London, you don't have to pay that duty.

In fact, that duty makes up most of the discrepancy you're seeing.

Above image via Shutterstock

Unlucky in Ireland: Trip Ruined by Fall

Q. I purchased travel insurance for my trip to Ireland. As luck would have it, I suffered a terrible fall before I was scheduled to fly back home. So now I've got an insurance claim that requires documentation for every little thing, which is often difficult to get (especially in rural Ireland) and I'm stuck here in another B&B waiting for an available flight home. If I'm unable to get a seat, I may be forced to stay longer than I can afford. All the documents they want will go through a "counselor" at the hospital; not the doctor. This could drag on for months and I could be broke by then. Is there any way to make them pay me now?

A. Unfortunately, the claims process could take several weeks if not longer. And they won't pay any costs associated with terminating the trip early (via the "trip interruption" clause in most travel insurance policies) until they document your visits to a physician or hospital. Of course, you'd also need to submit proof of any expenses incurred, which can only be done after spending the money. If your policy had an emergency medical evacuation clause and you'd been deemed a candidate for medical evacuation, either by commercial flight or a private medical flight, then you would have been able to get a flight home almost immediately.

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Trip Booked, Route Discontinued

Q. When Frontier first announced flights out of Washington Dulles in July, they offered a promotional $39 RT flight to Charlotte. I jumped at that since I wanted to visit my sister who has been ill and have her come to see me in DC. So in July I booked two flights---one for mid-January and one in February.  Now I’ve been informed that Frontier flights out of Charlotte are being discontinued in January.  I asked to be booked on a different airline and they said they don’t have “sister” airlines or codeshares. They offered a refund but at that promotional rate, and now that fares seem to be increasing, a refund does little to get us between Charlotte and DC. Do I have any recourse to get them to book me with another airline since they booked these reservations and I paid for them already?

A. Unfortunately there is no compensation for this but there should be. In fact as I have often written I think it's the next big area the U.S. DOT should regulate. All too often people are suckered into buying a vacation with non refundable land arrangements based on a cheap airfare only to learn month later that their $39 intro fare is now on an airline that decided not to fly there any longer and the only alternative is an unaffordable $300 or higher fare. Frontier and their cousins Spirit and Allegiant frequently dip their toes in a market with much fanfare and super low fares and then pull out just as fast when the routes don't live up to financial expectations, leaving chaos in their wake. It's not right and it is not fair.

Frontier image via Shutterstock

Cancel for Any Reason

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 or InsureMyTrip.

Above image via Shutterstock

Differences in Flight Availability

Q. On a recent Friday afternoon, my friend and I booked our trips together using the same computer. She was going round-trip, I was going one-way, joining her on the return leg. 

She booked her ticket through the US Airways site.  Minutes later, I tried booking my one-way ticket on her return flight...BUT the flight was no longer available. I was finally able to find the exact US Airways flight still available on Orbitz and booked through them instead.

I also called up US Airways and was told that they update their system on Friday and although they try to do it in the middle of the night, sometimes it doesn’t work out. My question is:  Do you know what day of the week the major airlines update their information? In searching for the right time and price for this trip, we found that a lot of times the airline sites did not list flights that were available on other sites.  

A. There could be two things happening here. One, it’s possible that there was just a single seat available at the lowest fare on that flight, and your friend grabbed it.

The other possibility is that a lower fare lingered on Orbitz because of different updating schedules. New fares can be entered into computer systems at any time. It used to be that fares were updated for domestic flights three times a day during the week and once a day on weekends, but that’s no longer the case. Airlines can now push through airfare updates dynamically if they need to (for example, if there’s a fare error, they can correct it more quickly than 7 or 10 years ago).

Above image via Shutterstock

Short Term Sales

Q. Why is it that these sale fares are always so short term? Most end long before the time period I might even need to travel.

A. The airlines treat their tickets like inventory in a store. If there's a surplus or the consumer doesn't seem to be buying, they'll run a sale to decrease inventory. Depending on where you want to travel, they may hold off on putting the hot spot vacation destinations on sale to see if more people are willing to pay higher prices, especially in warmer months.

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Seat Inventory & Sale Fares

Q. Do airlines decrease and increase the number of seats available at advertised sale prices? I ask because last week I saw a sale advertised on an airline web site and went to find seats for my dates of travel but was unsuccessful. However, the next day my cousin, who was making the same trip to attend a wedding, found seats at the sale fare on the exact same flights I searched the day before.

A. There are many reasons why a sale fare might be unavailable one day but available the next. Airlines not only adjust fares, but also the number of seats available at those fares. And if someone has a sale fare on "hold" but doesn't buy it, the sale seat will go back into inventory. So it pays to be diligent and persistent.

Above image via Shutterstock

23-Hour Layover in Hong Kong

Q. We have a 23-hour layover in Hong Kong on our way back from Bali to Vancouver in February 2015. What would you recommend seeing and doing in this amount of time? We love to walk, swim, see beaches, hike, bike, eat Chinese food, see museums, and shop.

A. I've always felt that Hong Kong has the best Chinese food in the world, especially seafood dishes and dim sum, so eating is a must. I had some of the best dim sum ever at the Hotel Icon's Above and Beyond restaurant in Kowloon. To get oriented, you might consider taking a hop on/hop off bus tour with the Big Bus Company. Day and night tours are available (there have been a few route changes due to the recent street demonstrations, but chances are they'll be over by the time you visit). Splendid Tours also offers a variety of sightseeing options, including an airport transit tour (leaving from the airport) that lasts 8 hours. The city has managed to retain a lot of green space, and hiking is a popular activity with locals and visitors, and February is a good month to hike since the weather is cooler. The Peak Circle Walk affords some great views of the city, and the Dragon's Back trail is also very popular. As for museums, the Hong Kong Museum of History is the number 3 rated attraction on For more suggestions, check out TripAdvisor's list of top things to do in the city. If you're interested in art at all, the city now has a huge number of galleries showcasing established and emerging local artists, and gallery hopping is one of my favorite ways to spend time while visiting.

Above image via Shutterstock

One Ticket Left

Q. I've noticed that a number of discount airlines have included on their online booking search results such statements as "one ticket left at this price!" next to the fare price. While I've seen that prices actually do go up after that one ticket is bought, I'm wondering how believable is this statement? Does it necessarily mean the price won't go any lower in the future? Is this all a marketing ploy to get you to buy a ticket as soon a possible?

A. We’ve also noticed this, and we think it’s a legitimate warning. Airlines sell only a certain number of seats at their lowest fares at any given moment. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t open up more seats at the same fare later on, or that they won’t lower the fare on a route to an even lower price the next day. Fares and seat availability at the lowest fares are in constant flux. The best way to nab a deal is to sign up for free low fare alerts from the many web sites offering this service.

Above image via Shutterstock

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