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Q. When travel insurance is purchased from an airline at the time of making the flight reservation, does that insurance cover all aspects of the trip, or only the flight? For example, in the case of an unexpected illness, will the insurance cover cancellations of tours scheduled during the trip (that have already been paid for), in addition to airfare?
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Q. The cheapest fare I can find to Cambodia involves a plane change in Shanghai. The wait time is 23 hours. First, is it permitted to leave the airport and tourist around in Shanghai without a China visa for a few hours? Second, what would be a "do not miss" activity/attraction for that time?
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Q. With my domestic flights, I usually add on travel insurance since it is often inexpensive. In the coming year, I have two foreign trips planned. When I have priced travel insurance to these locations, I find the price to be very expensive but I recognize that these will cover cancellations, as well as, medical coverage. Since we are healthy travelers, I am not sure that it is worth the major expense. Any recommendations? Is there a way to compare travel insurance prices?
Q. I just returned from a trip on Air France. Prior to my flight, I was confirmed in an aisle seat. When I arrived at the airport, I discovered my seat assignment had been changed to a middle seat. Needless to say, I was upset. I mentioned the seat change to a friend of mine who said the same thing happened to her family recently. Can the airline randomly change seat assignments once they have confirmed them with their passengers?
A. Unfortunately, yes they can. Especially if there's a change of equipment or, in some cases, if the airline needs to rebalance the plane's weight. As you probably know, an airline can even take away your seat entirely (involuntary denied boarding), in which case they are required to provide compensation.
Q. I'm visiting family for Thanksgiving and would like to bring along foods from home. I have searched the web site of my airline, but can't seem to find any mention of food restrictions, or bans on carrying food aboard the plane. What's the verdict?
There is some room for debate as far as gels are concerned, and the TSA suggests you tuck these items into your checked luggage, ship it, or skip bringing them altogether. Those items include:
Creamy dips and spreads
Cakes and pies are ok to bring, though the TSA warns such items are subject to extra screening. And a word to the wise, we've heard stories of screeners rejecting pies filled with what they deemed to be "gel." As with other TSA regulations, passengers are bound to encounter inconsistencies from airport to airport.
Q. We are having a family reunion of over 25 people all flying from Newark to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Do the airlines give any type of discount for groups? Our trip is July 2014. Should we book now?
A. As to your first question, yes indeed, airlines have group travel desks that arrange travel and give discounts. Call your airline’s toll-free number to see if your group qualifies. As to when to buy, fares to Puerto Vallarta rarely go on sale but you’ll save money if you fly midweek. If you see a fare under $450 round-trip with tax from Newark, you might want to jump on it.
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Q. I’m flying to London soon and love to shop. If I buy a purse or something in England and send it back to the U.S. by FedEx or DHL, would I be charged duty if I send it home before my return flight?
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Q. My spouse is deceased and has United and Delta frequent flyer miles. How can I transfer these to my name?
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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.
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Q. I will be traveling to Northern New York to visit family. I would like to rent a car upon arriving and then a few days later travel to Washington DC to visit family there and then fly home from DC. What are the best priced companies to offer one-way car rentals where I can pick a car up from one airport and drop off at another and is one cheaper than the other?
A. One of the best ways to get a great deal is to book early and keep checking rates. Rental rates can change multiple times a day (especially within a couple of weeks of your pickup date). Savvy renters know that it's best not to prepay for your rental, since this gives you the flexibility to cancel and re-book if a better deal comes along. A hassle-free way do this is to book your rental and then track prices via AutoSlash.com. We passed your question over to auto rental expert and AutoSlash CEO, Jonathan Weinberg, who offered this advice: "All of the major rental companies offer one-way rentals. Hefty 'drop fees' are sometimes tacked onto to the base rental rate, which can significantly increase your total cost. Other times, the base rate is inflated as compared with a standard rental where you pick up and drop off at the same location.
There are however ways to reduce that sting. First off, it pays to shop around. Just because one company is charging a $250 drop-fee for your one-way rental, doesn't mean that all of them are. Use a comparison site like Travelocity or Kayak to compare rates across multiple companies. In some cases, a particular company may want to move vehicles from one location to another, and they will offer a much better deal since you are helping them with inventory management.
Next, don't forget about discounts codes. The application of a discount code and/or coupon to your rental can have a startling effect on your rate. We've seen discount codes drop a rate in half, or even more. Sometimes these discount/coupon codes will actually waive the one-way fee entirely. Just because the un-discounted price for a particular company is high, doesn't mean that the rate will be similarly high after applying a discount code. The right discount code can work wonders on your rate."
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