One last port of call in Palma

We made one final stop in Palma on the quiet Spanish island or Mallorca. It’s a favorite destination for Europeans.

You can see why: Its breathtaking cliffs (mind the dropoff, Erysee!) and historical medieval towns make this the perfect place to conclude our Western Mediterranean cruise.
Continue reading…

Headed to Europe this summer? It could be a riot

If you’re looking for a little adventure this summer — a strike, a riot or maybe even a revolution — skip the Middle East and visit Europe.

Traditionally quiet and predictable Western Europe, a magnet for many American tourists, hasn’t seen this much political and economic uncertainty in a while. As reports of economic bailouts, work stoppages, unrest in the streets and fluctuating currencies find their way back to the States, travelers wonder whether it’s safe.

I do. I’m headed to Europe twice with my family: on a Mediterranean cruise in July and a tour of Italy in early September. While none of the experts I spoke with advised me to cancel, they did caution me to monitor the situation carefully.
Continue reading…

Can this trip be saved? I missed my connection — how about some compensation?

If you miss a connection and your flights aren’t on the same reservation, you’re normally out of luck. But Duane Perry’s circumstances are anything but normal.

He was flying from Philadelphia to Madrid, Spain, on US Airways, and then connecting to a puddlejumper to the Canary Islands. When he made the reservations online, he tried to book the flights together so that his second flight would be protected — in other words, so that if there were an unexpected delay getting into Madrid, he could miss his flight to the Canaries and get placed on the next flight at no cost.

But the system wouldn’t allow him to do that, despite the fact that the second carrier was a Star Alliance member. He had to make two separate reservations. Realizing that the connection time was tight, he asked US Airways if 1 1/2 hours was enough connection time to get to his second flight. A representative assured him it was.
Continue reading…

Oh no! They lost my ticket refund

Question: I recently lost a paper airline ticket to Spain that I booked through Travelocity. I was told to fill out a lost ticket refund application through Iberia Airlines, which I did. Both Travelocity and Iberia assured me that I would receive a refund for the second ticket I had to buy, minus a $100 fee.

Since my return, I have contacted Iberia numerous times to get the status of my refund, but they said they were not able to help me directly. I asked Travelocity to contact Iberia, which they did. I also provided Travelocity with background information and sent them the original paper tickets (which were subsequently found).

Travelocity contacted Iberia to request a refund on my behalf, but I have not heard anything since then. It’s been four months. I requested that Travelocity follow up, but they told me to contact Iberia directly. When I contact Iberia directly, they tell me they will only speak to my travel agent. What should I do? — Karen Smith, Stamford, Conn.

Answer: Did you say you had a paper ticket? I thought those were obsolete. Travelocity and Iberia should have issued an electronic ticket. (In fairness, this case was brought to my attention a few months ago, but still — paper tickets were supposed to go the way of the dodo in 2008.)
Continue reading…

Where’s my deposit?

Question: I’m writing in the hope that you can help us secure the return of our deposits from a tour operator.

My mother and I booked a wine tour in Spain through a company called The Unique Traveller that we found online. We each made a deposit of $881, which amounted to 30 percent of the cost of the trip. We weren’t presented with any terms and conditions, nor were the terms available on the tour operator’s Web site.

We asked to see a copy of the company’s terms, which stated that if we canceled fewer than 45 days before the tour, we would forfeit our deposits. I spoke with the owner of the company, and he agreed to modify the terms, allowing us to get a full refund of our deposits if we canceled after 45 days.

Several months later, I was laid off from the law firm I worked at. Then my mother lost her job. We can no longer afford the trip. But The Unique Traveller — despite agreeing to a refund — has refused to send us our money back. Can you help us? — Debra Hitti, San Francisco

Answer: If The Unique Traveller agreed to revise its terms, then you’re entitled to a full refund of your deposit.

I’m just not sure if it made that promise. I reviewed the correspondence between you, your mother, and Ramon Ramirez, the tour operator, and found that although he implied you would get your money back, his language was sufficiently vague to avoid a refund. How clever.
Continue reading…

Help, my travel insurance company won’t answer the phone!

wallIt’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: You’re in trouble, so you reach for your phone to call your travel insurance company. The line rings. And rings. And rings.

No one answers.

This nightmare scenario happened to David Miller when his travel documents went missing. He tried to call Access America through its collect number. No one was home.
Continue reading…