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Entries during 2013-12

Delta's Boxing Day Fare Glitch

Q. I was curious why Watchdog didn’t pick up these fares when there was a glitch in the delta system?

A. Actually, we did catch them and we tweeted about them. If you’re not following us on Twitter, you should be.

And we also sent out many of them by email. However, the sale only lasted a short while, and frankly a lot of people saw the email alerts too late (in some cases, the next day) and called us “bogus liars." You know how that goes.

Consider, too, that there were literally thousands of these fares, and we are not automated, so it was impossible to list all of them.

Also, during the first 30 minutes of the “sale,” the fares were listed on Delta’s site, but wasn’t allowing booking all the way through to confirmation. Eventually, the fares became bookable.

Other things to consider: either due to site capacity or because Delta discovered the error, Delta’s website became inaccessible around 10.40 a.m. ET. Also, we weren’t immediately sure that the fares were valid or, indeed, if Delta would wiggle out of honoring them (last we heard, third-party sites like Priceline were refusing to honor the fares, although they may have had a change of heart).

One more thing, I got an email from a very angry person who works for the Disney Company calling us to task for not emailing her a fare that she would have liked to book. But I wonder: if this travel industry employee had somehow made a huge career-ending error, perhaps listing all Disney hotel rooms at $2, costing her employer hundreds of thousands in losses, would she have wanted us to shout that from the rooftops? I personally have an ethical conflict about causing someone to get fired the day after Christmas. What’s your policy?

First Trip to Asia

Q. My wife and I are contemplating a trip to China (Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong) and are wondering when is the best time to travel there and to buy airfares. This would be our first trip to Asia. Is there are website that has the cheapest fares? Should we book a package deal or travel independently? What's the best airline to use? Also, my wife has respiratory problems and has to fly with a portable oxygen concentrator so we're wondering what the airline policies are about bringing oxygen on board the plane.

A. Let me address your last question first. If your wife has respiratory problems, I would seriously reconsider a trip to China's major cities. Due to industrial expansion and other factors, the air quality is horrendous. Even people with healthy lungs find it intolerable some days. Friends of mine who moved to Beijing for work with their two small children quickly asked for a relocation to Singapore when they discovered how bad the air quality was in China. For a first visit to Asia, I'd follow their lead and visit Singapore instead. (Singapore is fast becoming the tourist hub of Asia with excellent hotels, infrastructure, attractions (they even have casinos and a Universal Studios theme park now), excellent shopping and cuisine.) But if you insist on visiting China, I would fly on an airline with clearly stated rules on traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator, such as United or Singapore Airlines. This spells out United's policies, and here are Singapore's rules. And wherever you decide to go, definitely look into package deals since they often save money over buying hotel, airfare and tours a la carte. Sign up for Singapore Airline's frequent flyer program (Kris Flyer) to get first dibs on special promotions, which are often sent to members before they general public.

Beijing image via Shutterstock

Airline Insurance Coverage

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?

A. When it comes to insurance, you get what you pay for. Buying directly from the airline may seem like the cheapest option, but there are often limitations on that coverage. You're probably better off buying from a third party such as Travel Guard, CSA Travel Insurance, or another vendor. You can also compare coverage and rates at

Image via Shutterstock

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