Welcome to the November 2007 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.

Tips For Healthy Travel

The Holiday travel season is here, unfortunately so is the cold and flu season and you will be coming in close contact with people who may be infected.

Wherever you're headed, you'll want to feel healthy and strong. Here are some helpful tips for not being under the weather when you're going above the clouds.

Before Your Trip

Here are just a few precautions you can take ahead of time:

         Make sure your immunizations are current.

         If possible, delay your trip if you're not feeling well.

         If you're prone to air sickness, ask for a window seat over the wing.

         If you have any health questions, or if you suffer from a chronic ailment, motion sickness, or fear of flying, ask for advice from your physician.

         Stress is bad for you. Reduce stress by allowing plenty of time to check in and reach your departure gate.

         Always carry your medication with you—never pack it in baggage you're planning to check.

         Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes for your flight.

During Your Trip

Here are a few things you can do to feel good while you're flying:

         Eat lightly during your flight.

         Stay hydrated while you fly.

         Leave room under the seat in front of you so you can stretch out your legs.

         If conditions permit, try to stand up and walk around the cabin every once in a while.

At Your Destination

Here are a couple of things to remember once you arrive:

         Never purchase local medications unless you're familiar with them.

         Wear sun block and sunglasses in the tropics and at high altitudes.

         Drink a lot of water to minimize altitude sickness.

Helpful Web sites

These sites offer comprehensive information about healthy travel:

         Centers for Disease Control

         Travel Medicine

         U.S. Department of State

Get Ready To Wait

Airlines expect 27 million Thanksgiving fliers

Airline passenger traffic around the Thanksgiving holiday is forecast to rise 4 percent from a year ago.

The Air Transport Association said it expects roughly 27 million passengers to fly over 12 days beginning November 16, with planes about 90 percent full.
In an attempt to minimize travel hassles, some big airlines will add as many as 500 seasonal workers -- some of whom had been furloughed -- to usher fliers through airports, James May, the president of the association said at a press conference.

The industry anticipates an average of about 2.5 million passengers a day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday and Monday after the holiday, according to ATA. Average daily passenger traffic this year is roughly 2.1 million, with load factors of about 80 percent. The expected up tick in holiday air travel comes in spite of historic delays reported by airlines all year.

More than 24 percent of flights arrived late through September and the industry's on-time performance through September was the worst since comparable data began being collected in 1995, according to the Transportation Department.

Our Advice: Get to the airport early. With planes 90 percent full, and you miss your flight for any reason or are bumped from the flight, you may not be able get to get to your destination until after the holiday.

Business Buyer Beware Of Nonrefundable Tickets

The president of a company booked a flight for a sales consultant to discuss a business opportunity. A full fare ticket was going to cost $600, versus $138 for a nonrefundable ticket, so he bought the nonrefundable.

The consultant cancelled, and the President found out the hard way that even though his company purchased this ticket, the consultant can apply the fare towards another trip anytime within a year without the company's consent.

Picture a situation where you're bringing someone in for an interview, or perhaps you book a flight for an employee who quits, then they turn around and use the fare towards a ski vacation

 A nonrefundable, nontransferable ticket is really the property of the person he bought the ticket for. When you buy a ticket you enter into a contract; whoever's name is on the ticket ... it's their ticket to use.'

The only way to avoid this is to let business associates buy their own travel, then offer to reimburse them.  
Avoiding Holiday Travel Scams

Since we're in the Holiday travel season, and scammers are close behind, it seemed like a good time to remind everyone about ways to avoid these travel scams.

Travel scams are becoming much more common, and potential travelers need to become more wary.

Here are ten things you really need to know to avoid getting taken by travel scams:

1. If you are offered a travel deal by email, it's almost certainly a scam. Just about all bulk email travel deals (or free vacations) are scams. If you are offered the travel deal by phone, be very skeptical. If you're unfamiliar with the company, get its name, address, and local telephone number. Check their track record if you can. (Unless you can find a legitimate local or regional office for the company, it's probably bogus.)

2. "If it sounds too good to be true..." Wouldn't we all love to believe that we just won an all-expense-paid trip to Bermuda or a weekend at Disneyland? Listen for the details -- or read the 'fine print.' In many travel scams, your airfare may be free, but there could be a clause in the contract that says you must stay in particular accommodations -- which turn out to be outrageously expensive.

Another type of 'too good to be true' pitch is winning a contest or lottery. If the agent claims you've won a contest, get more details. Public contests and lotteries have rules and regulations -- and you normally have to 'enter' to win.
If you didn't enter, you didn't win anything. You'll just be asked to pay lots of fees. Don't -- it's a scam. If you've won a legitimate contest or lottery, it shouldn't cost you anything to get your winnings or prize.

3. Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you made the phone call and you know that you're dealing with a reputable company. And you should never have to disclose any other personal details, like your checking account or social security number.

4. If you think you are interested in the offer, always ask what's NOT included: 'service charges,' 'processing fees,' and taxes are typically added on after the fact -- and you'll be expected to pay for them. Ask for specific details, too. Many travel scams are based on really vague information -- for example, they'll use phrases like 'major airline' without naming it.

5. Know that you can only dispute credit card charges within 60 days of acquiring them. So while it's a good idea to pay with your credit card (so that you can dispute the charge if it turns out you've been scammed), be wary of travel deals in which the 'availability' is more than 60 days away.

6. Never dial a 900 number to reach a travel agency or club. No legitimate company requires you to pay for a 900 call to phone their customer service desk. Also, beware of calling numbers with 809, 758, or 664 area codes. Many phone numbers seem ordinary, but are actually like unregulated 900 numbers located in the Caribbean -- and you could be charged exorbitant per minute rates.

7. Make sure you get copies of everything -- for example, your receipts, your itinerary, and the company's cancellation and refund policies.

8. Don't give in to high pressure tactics that perpetrators of travel scams use to push you into making rash decisions. They may use lines like, "This offer expires at midnight" or "This is the last day that we'll be making this offer."

This doesn't give you time to check into the background of the company making the offer, and they know it. If it's such a great deal, why should they pressure you to decide without checking it out?

9. Don't ever make a payment before you receive all the information -- or even worse, some travel scams require you to pay to get the information. Legitimate travel businesses will make sure you have all the details before you have to pay for anything.

10. Ask for references -- and contact them. Then be wary of references who simply seem to be parroting everything the travel company has told you.

These tips should keep you from being taken by travel scams in the future. If you think you may have already been scammed in the past, your state Consumer Dept. or Attorney General may be able to help.


Next Month:  Avoiding three destination travel scams

Remember: Without a travel agent you're on your own


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