Q: Is there any reason why I should buy airfare from my cruise line rather than through Expedia or whatever? It seems that the cruise lines' fares are higher.
A: One reason is that if you buy the airfare along with your cruise, the cruise company might make more effort to accommodate you should your incoming flight be late or canceled, or if the schedule is changed. (By the way, it's always a good idea to arrive the day before your cruise leaves, rather than on the day, in case there's a flight problem. Otherwise, you might miss the ship.) Also, cruise line fares might have more flexibility than the lower fares you're finding on Expedia, etc. But maybe you don't need to buy airfare at all, depending on the cruise line you choose. Carnival Cruise Lines now fields cruises, some year round, from 20 home ports, which are within a five hour drive of 50 percent of the U.S. population, including New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York. If you haven't cruise on Carnival lately, or thought it was down market, you might be in for a surprise. The food is among the best in the cruise industry, surprising considering how cheap Carnival's fares can be.
Q: I have been thinking of getting an airline credit card in order to earn miles, especially the bonus sign-up miles, which are typically 20,000 or 25,000. Which credit card is best for this?
A: Right now, the absolute best offer is from British Airways' Chase Visa. They're offering 100,000 bonus miles (that's not a typo), 50,000 upon your first purchase with the card, and another 50,000 if you spend $2,000 or more in the first three months. You also get 1.25 miles rather than the usual one for each dollar charged to the card, and if you spend $30,000 in a single calendar year you get a companion voucher good for any class of service. The annual fee is $75. Plus, should you usually only travel domestically, you can spend those miles on BA's partner American Airlines or other partner airlines. Those 100,000 miles are good for two flights to Europe, assuming seats are available when you wish to travel, or for upgrades. Use this link to apply for the card: http://www.mychasecreditcards.com/britishairways/hp_postpin
Q: What's the difference between "nonstop" and "direct" flights? I seem to see the terms used interchangeably.
A: "Nonstop" means, not surprisingly, that the flight lands just once (at your final destination). "Direct" means that the flight stops along the way, but there's no change of planes. We also see the two terms used as if they were the same thing, and we're happy to clear up the confusion.