The dangers of dynamic currency conversion

burning dollarProcessing a credit card charge for overseas purchases used to be pretty simple. You swiped your card while on vacation, your bank changed the money from pesos or euros into greenbacks, and the amount you’d spent appeared on your bill. Maybe you paid a small conversion fee, but you also got a competitive exchange rate.

Not anymore. Just ask Jae Cuadra, who recently tried to buy a round-trip train ticket between the Swiss cities of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen. The purchase, at a train station in Interlaken, went on his Capital One Visa card, which doesn’t charge to convert foreign currencies. But “for the first time, I was offered a choice,” says Cuadra, a registered nurse from Westbury, N.Y. “Did I want to pay in dollars or Swiss francs?”
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Why can’t I transit through London?

Question: I’m an Indian national residing in the United States. I was scheduled to fly from Houston to Mumbai on British Airways recently. My itinerary involved a short stopover in London.

In Houston, while checking in with British Airways, I was denied boarding because my work visa was not stamped in my passport. The original visa stamped in my passport had expired and I was traveling to India in order to get my renewed visa stamped at the U.S. consulate in Mumbai.
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Can this trip be saved? Icelandair’s ESTA snafu strands 18-year-old in UK

Note: I’m starting a new series called “Can this trip be saved?” where you get to vote on whether I mediate a case. Here’s the first installment.

Carrie LaMarr is steamed at Icelandair. Because of a misunderstanding over her son’s visa requirements, he was denied boarding on a flight this summer. He had to stay in Europe two extra days and pay another $905 to fly home.

LaMarr says the mix-up is Icelandair’s fault. Icelandair says it isn’t to blame.

Who’s right? I’ll let each side speak for itself and then tell you why I need your help in deciding what to do next.
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Passenger refunded $2,706 after airline denies mileage credit

singaporeGordon Robertson paid $2,706 for a ticket from Vancouver to Brisbane on Singapore Airlines. Little did he know that the ticket didn’t come with something he — and indeed, most passengers — expect when they book a flight: frequent flier miles.

“I bought the ticket specifically because the airline was a participating Star Alliance member, and gave my Aeroplan number to the travel agency at the time of purchase,” he says. “At the airport, I was told me that the ticket didn’t qualify to earn points.”

Was Robertson out of luck? Well, I’ve tried to mediate cases like this in the past, and I usually fail. The travel agent or airline inevitably points to some obscure fare rule that says miles aren’t included. And that’s it.

Not this time.
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