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Entries during 2013-11

Inherited Miles?

Q. My spouse is deceased and has United and Delta frequent flyer miles. How can I transfer these to my name?

A. Airlines are making this harder than in the past. Some airlines, including Delta and United, have an official policy of not allowing free transfer of miles (you can pay for transfers for a per-mile fee; however this is expensive); but it’s worth calling the airline to see if they’ll make an exception. If you know your deceased spouse’s account number and password, however, you can “gift” yourself free travel awards, using the miles that way. You'll find more info on this topic here.

Image via Shutterstock

One-Way Car Rentals

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 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."

Car image via Shutterstock

Check and Check Again

Q. My family will be spending a week over Memorial Day 2014 at a home near Jackson Hole. Airfare from right now is over $600 round-trip from Atlanta. Fares to Idaho Falls are slightly less. What is the likelihood that the fares to either city will get less expensive closer to the departure date? I need seven tickets. What is the best way to get the best fares? I've read that fares are higher when big blocks of tickets after purchased. Is this something a travel agent could help with? Appreciate any advice that keeps me from spending a small fortune.

A. I see United is charging $515 round-trip on your dates and Delta $464 round-trip now to Idaho Falls. So it's a great idea to check and check again. Fares may go up or down at any time. Also be sure to check FlyFrontier as well. Searching your dates on Kayak, I didn't see Frontier Airlines listed at all, so check their site directly since they also fly to Jackson Hole. And another tip, if you're searching for several seats, it might be a good idea to search seats two by two since there might not be seven seats on the same flight at the lowest price (you could even fly on different airlines if need be). And yes, a travel agent could help with a trip like this, although most travel agents now charge a fee to arrange airline tickets.

Jackson Hole image via Shutterstock

Liquids & Gels

Q. Are solid toiletries such as solid deodorant and wax-like hair products subject to the TSA 100 ml/3.4 oz. limit for “liquids and gels” or are they exempt?

A. According to the TSA website, solid deodorants are exempt, but “paste”-like products must adhere to the limits, so even semi-solid hair grooming products must be placed in that quart-size plastic bag. This question is answered on the TSA blog here. By the way, if you're flying through security at British airports, they're particularly strict about the size of the clear plastic bag.


Image via Shutterstock

Throwaway Stopover

Q. My girlfriend and I are traveling from Mexico to Puerto Rico for the first time. We have a JetBlue flight from Cancun that connects in Fort Lauderdale. We'd like to spend some time in Miami on our way back to Cancun, so we wanted JetBlue to cancel the second leg of the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cancun and just book a new ticket. JetBlue wants us to pay about 150 dollars for a change fee, as well as any extra cost if there is a difference. All I want is to cancel the second flight! This is a service I paid for that I no longer want, and I don't think I should be charged extra for that, but it's clear airlines think differently.

A friend suggested I could just not board the flight and that my luggage would be dropped at the airport. Is there a way I can do this? And is it even legal? This is my first time flying with JetBlue and also my first time with connecting flights.

A. If you decide to miss the final leg home and make other arrangements, it shouldn't be a problem so long as you don't check bags and take only carry-ons. By the way, this is called throwaway ticketing. We have heard cases where the airlines go after repeat offenders by clearing out frequent flyer accounts, but this is super rare.

If your bags are too big to carry on, you might also find it easier to pack what you need in smaller bags and ship the rest.

Luggage image via Shutterstock

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