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Entries during 2006-09

I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss my connecting flight. What can I do about it?

Q: Several weeks ago, we booked a Continental flight from to Edinburgh, Scotland with a connection in Newark.  As our departure date approaches, I have been checking the flight status of both flights the flight to Newark and the onward flight to Scotland.  On at least eight occasions during the past three weeks, our inbound connecting flight has either been cancelled or has arrived too late to connect with our flight to Edinburgh.  Since the flight to Edinburgh is the last one of the day, I really do not look forward to spending the first day of our vacation at the Newark airport. Do you have any suggestions on how we might deal with what appears to be an upcoming problem? 

 

A: I’ve received questions like this on more than one occasion, and it’s a tough one. I have a feeling that if you call Continental to change your departure to Newark to an earlier flight, they’ll attempt to charge you a hefty change fee (assuming you bought a non-refundable ticket). And if your flight to Newark is late because of weather, air traffic delays, or another reason beyond Continental’s control, they might not even pay for your overnight in Newark (not that you’d want to spend the night anyway, as you point out.) However, it’s worth a try: call Continental’s reservation number, and also try to get in touch with the local station manager at your originating airport to see if they’ll put you on an earlier flight to Newark without a change fee. And my advice to others who are connecting to the last flight of the day, wherever that flight might be heading: build in extra connection time if you don’t want to overnight in your connecting city. Generally, you can’t do this when booking online, but a travel agent or an airline reservation agent can usually give you up to a four hour layover in a connecting city so that you’ll be able to make your onward flight. Just bring a good book, or buy a one-day pass to the airline’s club lounge if you hate airport waiting areas.

Why did they confiscate my wine?

A: I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t carry wine in your checked luggage. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Perhaps the Delta check in agents just needed some wine for dinner that night. I would contact Delta’s customer service department by Delta Customer Care, PO Box 20980, Atlanta, GA 30320-2980, or call 404-715-1402. Explain what happened, and ask for a voucher good for future travel on the airline. I’d be surprised if they don’t grant you one. Check out this web site for a partial list of airline complaint contact info: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/contacts.htm.

Best of Hawaii

A: As I’ve said before in this column, Hawaii is one of my favorite destinations. The scenic beauty, the friendliness of the people, the weather: it’s all magical. No visit would be complete without getting a feel for Oahu, the “main” island where Honolulu is located. Stay in a nice hotel on Waikiki in an oceanfront room (the Halekulani if you can afford it, or the Sheraton Waikiki) and just soak in the atmosphere.


But my favorite is the “Big Island,” which somewhat confusingly is called Hawaii. I would visit the Kilauea Volcano site there (watching the lava flow at night is fascinating) and if you’re into horse riding, Paniolo Adventures offers trail rides on an 11,000-acre “upcountry” cattle ranch. I like the Big Island, too, because it’s the least touristy and has the largest variety of microclimates and scenery.

Another highlight is taking the long, windy road to the town of Hana on Maui, where you’ll find a less-touristy look at how Hawaii might have looked years ago. The beaches are fabulous in and around Hana, too. Another great thing to do is a sunrise bike trip down Haleakala, a mountain formed by a dormant volcano, also on Maui. The trip is no effort at all (it’s all downhill) and the 3000 foot deep crater is a wonder to see.

A popular activity on Kauai is to take a helicopter tour. Blue Hawaiian is the premier operator, and although it’s expensive and sounds a bit touristy, it’s not to be missed.

I’m sure I’ve left out many other things that readers love about Hawaii, so feel free to send them to me and perhaps we’ll include them in a future column. I can’t think of any particular hazards, but just don’t get too close to an active lava flow!

Best time to go weather-wise: November to February is the wettest period, and April to September the driest, so I might suggest avoiding the winter if at all possible. For more ideas and information, visit www.gohawaii.com/bigisland.

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