You’re stuck at an airport because of a delayed or canceled flight, and you urgently need assistance from the airline in question. But there’s a line of 80 other passengers at the podium, and the wait to reach a telephone reservationist is 25 minutes. So what do you do? You go to the Twitter page of the airline suffering the delay or cancellation, and you communicate your needs (another flight, a hotel room, a meal) to the people who service that airline’s Twitter feed. More and more, the airlines are operating their own Twitter accounts and assigning dedicated personnel to them; these knowledgeable folks achieve miracles of assistance for stranded passengers. The only hitch? To communicate with these Good Samaritans, you need to have a Twitter account of your own. Those few Americans who haven’t joined Twitter can read the Tweets on an airline feed, but they can’t send a question to that feed.
Is it safe? That’s the question posed to travel counselors by countless Americans as they ponder the choice of a destination. And there’s no simple answer to any such question. Terrorists can pop up in the most placid places, violent demonstrations can occur in stable countries, natural disasters may injure or kill the most careful tourist. So I can’t guarantee the validity of my own advice – please keep that in mind.
Because they usually sell out, down to the last classroom seat, late April is regarded as the last time for deciding whether to attend one of four major learning vacations in America and Great Britain. With travel having recovered from the recession-based slump of 2008 to 2011, all programs at Cornell, Omega, St. John’s and Oxford universities are full by that time.
We are facing a grave transportation crisis in America. All across the nation, one small town after another has lost its air service, abandoned by carriers that find no profit in their traffic. In huge swaths of the country, people are confined to the automobile as their sole means of reaching out-of-town destinations. The railroads that once serviced them have all but disappeared; the buses are, for other reasons, unsuitable for lengthy trips or are unavailable.
On a recent flight on Frontier Airlines from Denver to Newark, N.J., I was aghast at new departure procedures of the low-cost airline. Just minutes before passengers were invited to board, those with suitcases were summoned to the podium and made to pass their luggage through a wooden measuring device setting outer limits for that luggage. If a particular suitcase exceeded those limits, its owner was made to pay $25 on the spot and required to hand over the bag in question to be checked onto the flight – and not brought in to the overhead racks.
It’s a sad but inescapable fact that tourists often benefit from the economic misfortunes of countries bidding for our tourism. We travel to places where the currency recently has plunged against the U.S. dollar, and find that costs for accommodation meals and sightseeing are much lower than we are accustomed to spend at home. We soothe our consciences by realizing that we are helping that destination bounce back from economic disaster because of our expenditures there.
If I were asked to name the strongest trend in travel today, I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute – it’s the substitution by American travelers of vacation apartments and homes for hotel rooms. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, are now of the view that these alternative accommodations cost much less than equivalent hotel rooms, and offer far more spacious and comfortable stays, to boot.
l receive countless inquiries asking me to suggest novel methods of vacationing __ tactics designed to get the listener or reader out of a vacation rut. To my surprise, these questions continue to recur, even though I regard the answers to them to be rather obvious. Here is my take on five suggested tactics for avoiding a "vacation rut":
The press is full of reports that most of the major airlines American, United, Delta among them have reduced the number of holiday dates to six on which they will be charging surcharges of $20 to $40 each way. So this Thanksgiving and Christmas, it will be only a small number of instances like the day before Christmas or the day before Thanksgiving, or the day after New Year's when rates will suddenly skyrocket, as compared with the 12 or so days that saw such surcharges in 2010. Are the airlines frightened that they will be unable to fill their seats if they suddenly charge more on such days?
We live and learn. When a caller to my radio program recently requested information about how to obtain a "European passport" (she meant an Irish passport entitling the bearer to all the privileges of the European Union), I casually responded that this was impossible, it couldn't be; I was certain that an American could not enjoy dual citizenship.