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Your "Flight Crew," sitting from left: Christina Talcott, Andrea Sachs, Cindy Loose. Standing from left: Scott Vogel, K. C. Summers, John Deiner and Carol Sottili. (Julia Ewan -- TWP)

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The Flight Crew
Washington Post Travel Section
Monday, February 4, 2008; 2:00 PM

The Post's Travel Section Flight Crew will take your comments, questions, suspicions, warnings, gripes, sad tales and happy endings springing from the world of ... the world. Of course, the Flight Crew will be happy to answer your travel questions -- but the best thing about this forum, we insist, is that it lets travelers exchange information with other travelers who've been there, done that or otherwise have insights, ideas and information to share. Different members of the Crew will rotate through the captain's chair every week, but the one constant is you, our valued passengers.

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We know you have a choice in online travel forums, and speaking for the entire Flight Crew, we want to thank you for flying with us.

You may also browse an archive of previous live travel discussions. For daily dispatches, check out Travel Log, the Travel section's new blog.

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Christina Talcott: Good afternoon, chatters, and thanks for joining us today. I'll be your host, and joining me today are KC, John, Andrea, Cindy and Carol.

Speaking of Carol, have you seen her two Monday Rants on the Travel Log? If you haven't browsed our blog lately, take a look at some of our new features: Monday Rant, Insta-CoGo and Insta-Q-and-A. And we've got more fun features coming up in the next few weeks.

In the spirit of Monday Rants, we want to hear YOUR rants: Tell us your travel pet peeves. The person with the best submission (read: funniest) wins a cool calendar from GeoEye, with satellite photos from around the globe.

So what are you waiting for? Let's go!

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washingtonpost.com: Travel Log

Christina Talcott: Check it out!

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Question from a blog post: Last week the travel blog posted about hotel glasses. In the comments, someone mentioned "we all know" about drinking coffee and tea on the plane.

We don't all know. Would you post this appeal so the person can tell us whats so bad about it?

Christina Talcott: All right, would the person who said we all know about coffee and tea on the plane please stand up?

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Bowie, MD: I'll be going to Atlantic City in May to see a concert at Harrah's. I've never stayed overnight at AC before, so I'm not sure what hotels I should be looking at. Do you have any recommendations if I want to: a. splurge, or b. stay cheap? How does Harrah's compare to the other casino hotels?

John Deiner: Hey, Bowie.

Good choice. Harrah's is spending/has spent a fortune upgrading its property, which sits across from the Borgata, which is the premier hotel in AC these days. But Harrah's has a new tower of suites, plus it's got a beautiful indoor pool under a glass dome. And the casino is really nice -- my favorite in AC. If you want a splurge, go to Borgata and any of its restaurants, generally considered among the best in the city. Or treat yourself to the spa over there. If you want to save some bucks, stay in one of the hotels that line the main roads leading into town -- the farther you get, the nicer they tend to be. Definitely stick with the name brands (like the Hampton Inns or Marriotts).

To save money on food, consider eating away from the casinos. The boardwalk is still pretty skeezy, but there are some decent eating spots near the outlet mall leading into town. Or head to one of the diners on the main roads.

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Austin, Tex: i recently got married and need to change the name on my passport. it's also set to expire next year. can i just apply for a new one as opposed to sending in my old one for a name change? when they change my name will it be renewed or would i have to renew it again next year anyways? thanks!

Andrea Sachs: You should just renew it with your name change--two birds, one stone. Just be sure to include legal documentation for your new name. See travel.state.gov/passport for info.

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Arlington, Va.: Travel Mavens: I noted in your roundup of air security regulations, that it's permissible to take aerosol cans of less than 3 ounces on with your carry-on if it's in the required plastic bag. But at BWI in December, a TSA checker made me leave my 3 oz. shaving cream can behind saying a new regulation bans all carry-on aerosols. Can you please clarify before I sacrifice my next can? Thanks Much!

Cindy Loose: You frightened me there for a minute-- thought there might have been a rule change I missed. But I just checked the TSA site (www.tsa.gov) and it still talks about liquids, gels and aerosoles having to be in containers three ounced or less.

All I can say is that individual workers sometimes get it wrong. You could politely ask for a supervisor, if you think it's worth the hassle. But never, never argue beliggerently.

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Washington DC:

Hi -- thanks for the fine section yesterday! One question -- in listing fares from Dulles to BWI, and from BWI to Dulles, one is given as $108, and the other as $120. Why the difference?

Years ago, United used to have a puddle jumper flight between those two airports, good for making connections. Evidently no other airline offers this service now.

John Deiner: Hey, DC. First, thanks for the kind words.

And I flew that flight years ago for a story for our section. It was a hoot . . . the flight was delayed longer than the flight itself lasted.

As far as the taxi fares go, we got those numbers right from the airport authorities, and the only thing I can figure is it's because the municipalities or airports set different fees. Be nice if they were the same though, wouldn't it?

Anyone else know for certain?

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Fairfax, Va: Thanks for the great information in travel this week. Really well done.

We are thinking of going on a short cruise this spring break, the problem is our kids don't have passports. I figure it is too late to get them so the question is are there short cruises that only go to US territories or don't go ashore at all, that you can take without a passport.

Thanks

Cindy Loose: Surprise---You don't yet need passports for travel by land and sea. Everyone needs them to fly to a foreign destination, but land and sea travel does not yet require passports.

What's new, which I wrote about several times before the recent change, is that by land and sea adults need both proof of identity, like a drivers licence, and proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate. Kids need proof of citizenship.

So sail away wherever you like for now. Not clear when passports will be required by land and sea--Homeland Security wants is soon, and Congress is under pressure to delay as long as possible.

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my rant: I really hate it when they cancel your flight on the way over, lose your bags for 3 days, and then on the way back the flight home is so delayed you miss your connection and it takes 48 hours to get home. From Italy.

I hate it when that happens.

The good news is that United ending up compensating me about 1000 bucks which covered the cost of the ticket.

Christina Talcott: Wow, I hope that doesn't happen often!

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Midwest: Hi. I am thinking about going to Dubrovnik, Croatia the last week of August. However, I am concerned about crowds. I know Italians go on holiday in August...will Dubrovnik be overrun?

I picked that week because I am going to a wedding in NYC on Aug. 23, and thought I could just leave from there. I priced a trip from STL to NYC, with a two-day stay, then from NYC to Dubrovnik, and returning from Dubrovnik to STL. It was over $2300. However, NYC to Dubrovnik was only $1600. I've done open-jaw trips like this before (and prefer to do it that way rather than buy round trip STL to NYC and another round trip NYC to Dubrovnik), but the vast difference in cost is making me wary. Any advice?

KC Summers: Hi Midwest. Yes, Dubrovnik will be *extremely* crowded in August. Not just with Italians, but Americans, Brits, Germans, Slovaks, cruisers, you name it. That city has just gotten so hot. When I was there in mid-September two years ago, it was perfectly manageable for two days, but then a cruise ship docked, and oh my gosh. Gridlock on the medieval walls. (It was still an amazing trip.)

As to your fare question, it's not easy or cheap getting to Croatia. If it were me I'd buy two separate tickets. The usual caveat here is to be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to connect but that won't be a problem in your case since you're planning a two-day stay in NYC. FYI, a good source for Croatia airfares is the consolifator Croatia Travel Agency in New York, www.croatiatrave.com. When we checked a couple of weeks ago, they had a $1,050 round-trip fare and that was including the DC add-on.

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Mother of High School Junior: My 17-year-old son and I would much rather be taking a Spring Break vacation in March, but we have to start the "college visit" ordeal instead. I think we'll be heading down to Williamsburg and/or Charlottesville and I'd like to find something unique in the area to add to the trip so we feel like we've done something FUN for Spring Break. We enjoy outdoor activities and history (but we've done the regular Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown stuff ad infinitum.) Any suggestions for something different to do that will appeal to us? Many thanks.

John Deiner: Hey, MHSJ.

How about some whale-watching off the coast near Virginia Beach? It's definitely something different, and you're not too far. (I mean, what's spring break without the beach, right?)

Any other ideas out there?

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Derwood, MD: No question for now--just wanted to say what a great job you did on the Way to Go issue! A wealth of info, very well organized. I'm also looking forward to the Long Weekend feature, since we hope to take more short trips this year.

KC Summers: Thanks very much -- it was our pleasure. We actually use the guide ourselves all year!

And we are totally psyched about The Long Weekend. We've got tons of fun stories in the works. Folks, if you didn't get the word, we're starting a new half-page feature in Sunday Travel focusing on eating, sleeping, soft adventures and other diversions within a four-hour drive of D.C. First up: Annapolis B&Bs.

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Falls Church, Va.: I have to thank you all for re-publishing that picture of our photogenic cockapoo Dottie in your Sunday travel guide! You took that photo for an article back in 2000, and she is still traveling with us in her crate and having a great time, even though she is a little older. Keep up the good work!

John Deiner: Hey, FC. So good to hear from you . . . and for the report that Dottie is doing so well! How could you not fall in love with that little furry face?

And thanks for the kind words. Keep enjoying your travels with Dottie.

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Washington DC: We're planning a trip to Hawaii for late March. Of course all of the new sale fares to Hawaii that were just announced have black-out periods in late March. So, we're trying to use frequent flier miles. We have enough miles for coach seats but would like to upgrade to business class (it's our honeymoon and my soon-to-be husband is 6'6", so it's be nice for him not to be squished for such a long flight). Can you purchase upgrades on tickets purchased with miles? Our miles are on Delta if that helps.

Thanks!

Cindy Loose: What you can do on any airline is upgrade to business by spending more miles.

If you don't have enough miles to get a business class ticket: I don't think most airlines will let you buy an upgrade if you're using a ff ticket, but check with the airline to be sure about their rules. If you're short of miles for a business class ticket, think about whether it makes sense to use all your miles for one frequent flyer ticket, and buy the second ticket.

It would be a sure sign of devotion if you were to give up all your miles so your tall new husband could fly in style on a ff ticket, and then you could buy the cheapest seat in cow--make that coach--class.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi guys. I'm trying to plan my honeymoon for late October. I'm an experienced traveler and hate using travel agents, but considering all the other planning we'll have to do, I would love some help in making my arrangements. However, whenever I research 'honeymoon travel' I keep finding the same old resort type places, islands, or tourist trap tours of Italy. We're a little more adventurous. We love being immersed in foreign cultures. And we're also on a budget. Can the crew or any chatters recommend any travel agents or Web sites that can help plan a more exotic/adventurous honeymoon? Destination locations welcomed as well. Thanks guys, love the chats.

Carol Sottili: We addressed this very topic in our annual "Way to Go" section Sunday about the most frequently asked chat questions(see what you miss when you don't do the print thing). Two local travel agents that specialize in honeymoon planning are MacNair Travel & Cruises/American Express in Alexandria (800-833-4382, http://www.macnairtravel.com) and Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays Travel in Vienna (800-320-7373, http://www.perfecthoneymoons.com).

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Oakton, VA: I am thinking about taking a trip to see Mount Rushmore. Any suggestions on what else I should see while I am in that part of the country? And which airport is most convenient to fly into? Thanks!

Christina Talcott: There's a lot to see and do in that part of South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore's in the Badlands/Black Hills area, which has great camping and hiking, as well as Custer State Park (site of Custer's Last Stand). You could fly into Rapid City and drive from there; and chatters have other suggestions?

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BWI-Dulles puddle jumper: I took that flight regularly when UAL had it and I was traveling for work. BWI was cheaper and more convenient but Dulles had the nonstops.

AND you got 500 FF miles for it. The view was great.

A few times everyone on the flight got talking, and the stories were really cool. Bonding, quick flight, lots of FF miles, and a nice view. What more could you want?

John Deiner: Exactly!! Those miles alone were worth the flight, and as I remember, it was pretty cheap. I remember recommending it to people who wanted a neat sightseeing tour of the entire DC metro area.

Thanks for the report!

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PDAs on board: This might be more of a question for Miss Manners--but on a recent flight from ATL to DCA, the woman next to me pulled out her Blackberry and text-messaged away nonstop. Everytime a flight attendant came down the aisle, it went into the bag at her feet, but out it came again. What would the flight crew have done? My scowls in her direction weren't noticed--obviously she was too busy tapping away.

KC Summers: Let's let folks vote on this. Depending on my mood and how snarky I was feeling, I probably would've taken a flight attendant aside and ratted out my fellow passenger.

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Bowie, MD: Pet Peeve: People who zoom up the EZPass lane then realize (since they probably can't read English)they can't use the lane, then tie up traffic by trying to edge into the normal, pay lanes. Makes me wish I had a high power laser beam device on the front of my car......

Christina Talcott: Yup, that's really irritating! BTW John blogged about that a few weeks ago, and TONS of people weighed in on the EZPass debate. Seems it really touches a nerve.

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Washington, DC: I hate it when they ask you to trade your precious bulkhead aisle seat so some baby can be there, why don't they know that beforehand and why does it matter?

Christina Talcott: I hear ya!

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Williamsburg: I just returned from a two day, two night stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA. I would suggest only a one day/night stay with your high schooler. It has an awesome indoor water park with very scary/steep water slides - and a terrific wave pool, lazy river, and one of those pools where you learn to surf/wave board. Though the place is definitely geared towards small kids -the other adults in my family and I loved it too. There's a great, cheap bbq restaurant on the same road, less than a mile away: Pierce's - go there for dinner. The food in the resort is sub par and pricey. Just my two cents on Williamsburg!

John Deiner: Hey, that's a great idea. And it, no doubt, will still be indoor swimming weather in the spring. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Alexandria, VA: I just wanted to say thank you - I am celebrating my 39th birthday and I'm really wanted to do something different. Unfortunately my birthday is the 16th - which sucks because if I don't plan strategically or early enough I lose out to people making kissy-kissy valentine plans.

However, in yesterday's travel section, someone suggested www.spamagazine.com, and I was able to get the most awesome spa resort deal my whole b-day weekend in New Jersey.

39 might not be so bad. Thanks guys.

Christina Talcott: So glad we could help! Happy birthday!

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For Alexandria's Oct honeymoon: I'd suggest looking at the hotel websites. We went to Dunkeld House Hotel (now Hilton, once Starkis)in Scotland. Beautiful 5 star plus adventure stuff like quad biking and Land Rover 4 x 4 test course plus quiet riverside walks. Was built as the Duke of Atholl's fishing lodge, but that was pre WWII. Different culture: Scottish Highlands. Oh, remember, Scotland is non-smoking in cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars.

Christina Talcott: Sounds fabulous!

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Virginia Beach, Virginia: Hi there Flight Crew!

I'm hoping you can help us plan a driving trip to Canada. We would like to spend a few days in both Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Should we rent a car in Quebec and turn it in on P.E.I.? Do you think there would be a significant drop-off charge to do so, or should we just back-track to Quebec to turn it in?

Thanks so much for your help.

Cindy Loose: I'm guessing there will be a major dropoff fee, but the only way to know is to contact a couple car rental agencies and see what their policies.

Sometimes a agency's policy varies depending on patterns. For example, if they tend to have too many cars being returned to Q.C. and are always needing cars in P.E., then their charge might not be too draconian. I'm afraid you'll just have to call to see.

Meanwhile, be aware that car rental prices in Canada are often higher than in the U.S. In fact, if I'm headed to a city within a few hours of the border--Quebec City is about four hours from Burlington and maybe five from Albany--I'll look for a cheap flight to those places and make the drive a bit longer.

Also be aware--Quebec City is a very walkable city but if you want to add a bit of country sightseeing, you'd need a car to go to the nearby, quaint island.

Finally, it seems the ideal for you would be fly into Q.C. and fly out of PEI, If you find that the flight costs are prohibitive to do that, and ditto with car dropoff, consider taking a train between the two so that you fly into and out of Q.C.--or even a nearby U.S. city.

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Washington, DC: I was checking out a website that provides cruises from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahama. I am a U.S. citizen and have a U.S. passport. Do I need some sort of re-entry visa to return to the states? - Thanks.

Cindy Loose: No, just come on home. We'll be waiting for you and happy to see ya.

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Washington about to go to the UK: I would like to buy my rail tickets for the UK in advance of travel there in 10 days. However, the major online retailers will not accept purchases from those residing outside of the UK. An internet forum rumor is that Raileasy will accept international bookings, but I'm not sure if this is true/a reliable agency.

Alternatively, is buying the ticket when you arrive at the station always more expensive? The UK rail site has the cheapest fare for our journey as a "Saver Return" ticket, which apparently has the same walk up and prepay price and flexibility in exactly when you travel. Perhaps the US airline ticketing system has left me cynical, but this seems too good to be true!

Carol Sottili: Have you tried www.acprailnet.com or www.raileurope.com? They both sell Britrail tickets, and in order to get certain passes, you must live outside the UK. Also, I'm not sure about rules re: residency and buying tickets, but don't forget about Virgin Trains (www.virgintrains.co.uk) - prices are often very good.

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Annapolis, Md: thanks for your "nuts and bolts" section on local area airports yesterday - but why didn't you information on off-airport parking at BWI? there are several commercial lots, all with much better pickup service than the airport lots, and not much more expensive; many of them give discounts for on-line reservations and/or if you're a gov't employee.

John Deiner: Hi, Annapolis. Good point -- that will be terrific fodder for a piece in the future. Space was definitely at a premium in the section, so we decided to keep focused on what was offered by each airport. Also, there are plenty of hotels that offer stay-and-park programs.

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flying with cats: Just wanted to follow up on last week's chat, where many of the comments regarding flying with pets were pretty hostile. We're moving to Asia this summer and I'm already worried about traveling with my cat. I don't want to inconvenience other people if he cries the whole time, but nor do I want him in cargo for 17 hours where it's a distinct possibility that he'll die. It's not like we're just moving an 8 hour drive away. So what am I supposed to do - throw him away? I will do what I can to keep him quiet and unobtrusive on the flight but consideration goes both ways.

KC Summers: Ah, such a controversial issue. It's not just that the cat's meowing might bother your fellow passengers: There are people who simply can't breathe when cats (or other allergy-causing critters) are in the same enclosed space. Airlines say that in cases like that they try to get people to change seats, but as we saw in last week's chats, sometimes people just won't cooperate. Besides, even if you move a few rows down it's still the same small space with the same air recirculating.

If it were me (and I have two cats), I'd leave the cat behind, ideally with a trusted friend. Taking an animal on a 17-hour flight is not fair either to it or your fellow passengers.

Other opinions?

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My Rant: It isn't that funny (sorry), but I hate airline fares. I hate that the person next to me might have paid half what I paid. I hate that they give me vouchers and make them almost impossible to redeem ("only good on full fare flights"). I hate that when I book determines what I pay, rather than when I fly. And I hate that non-stops cost more than multi-stops. Surely it must be more expensive for you to board me twice, move my luggage around, and take off and land an extra time.

Decide how much the flight costs, people, and charge us that.

Christina Talcott: Ah, but then you'd miss out on the excitement of snaring a great deal, right?

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Silver Spring, MD: I was surprised not to see vayama.com listed in you list of go-to internet sites. I believe that they started sometime last year, and for a flight to Hong Kong they were MUCH lower than any other show in town. Have you heard of them? According to their press page, they have had mention in the NYT and CNN. --I swear I don't work for them, I was just happy with my 15% savings on my China tickets!!

KC Summers: We haven't used them, SS, but we'll check them out. As you know, our approach to low airfares is that there's no end-all, be-all site and you have to shop around. ANyone else out there familiar with vayama.com?

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Houston, Tex: Honeymooning in late October and can't decide where yet. Choices range from Machu Picchu to the Costa Rican rain forests to Florence. We'd both rather walk around, take pictures, etc as opposed to sip drinks laying on a beach. Flight Crew and chatters, help me out, please. Where shall we go?

Cindy Loose: The three you mention all sound great, and sound great for the walking around and taking pix. desires. Then of course there are dozens of other options in between.

Honeymoons are once in a lifetime---well, for Juliani maybe three or more times in a lifetime--and if you're uncertain what would be the best place for your desires, I'd say visit a travel agent who will take the time to talk through options. The charge will be worth not making a mistake.

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Driving "the Alps": Hi!

My ambitious plan this June is to start in Munich (picking up a new BMW) and then select some beautiful parts of the Alps in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France (just Mont Blanc) and then back to Munich to drop my car off and go home. I'd do this in no less than two weeks, but I hope a little longer.

Would you have any suggestions for not-to-be-missed drives or villages or views?

many thanks.

Christina Talcott: We're woefully inexperienced on the topic of Alpine road trips. Any chatters have suggestions?

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Ex-DCer: Back in the early 1970s, when I'd fly between the DC area and the San Francisco Bay Area, there was a helicopter puddle-jumper service between SFO and OAK (since the East Bay was much closer to my actual destination). For someone like me flying from DC, the chopper ride was quite reasonable in proportion to the airplane fare, as most of the price was subsidized by the airline on which I was flying cross-country. Plus, the view over SF Bay was a treat in and of itself. Ah, for the good old days when I was too young to know any better than to be afraid of riding in a helicopter!

Christina Talcott: Wow, that sounds incredible!

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Vienna, VA: Hi Crew - Great section on Sunday!! My husband, first-grader and I plan to drive to Atlanta for spring break. We would like to stop for a night on the way down. Any suggestions? Also, this is our first time to Atlanta. Any thoughts for how to keep a 7-year old entertained there? Best area to stay? Thanks!

John Deiner: Hey, Vienna. I'd stop in the Raleigh-Durham area if I were you. It's pretty close to the midpoint and there is a plethora of places to stay.

As far as kids' activities go, there's the Children's Museum of Atlanta, which is right downtown. There's also the zoo, which is quite nice, the World of Coca-Cola (okay, that's a lot of sugar) and the botanic gardens (which has a special kid zone). Also, there are lots of activities up in Stone Mountain park, including a train ride, a skyride to the top of the mountain and a paddlewheeler that explores a lake.

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Arlington, VA: One small quibble on your wonderful travel section. The price of the Metrobuses to BWI and Dulles rose a bit, maybe two bits, due to the general fare increases.

John Deiner: Hey, Arl. Thanks for the update...I'll pass it on to Elissa, who was checking right up to press time.

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Pet Peeve: Those "center of the universe" folks going through airport security who use up five or six trays, don't unlace their shoes ahead of time, forget to take off their jackets, just generally take forever doing what should be second nature by now.

Christina Talcott: No kidding. Thanks!

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Rants: I'm tired of being nickeled and dimed by the airlines. UAL's $25 charge for a second piece of checked baggage is just the latest (by the way, are they putting the weight-limit back to the previous 70 pounds, or is this a double nickel-and-dime move in that they're keeping that limit to you pay $25 either way: a second back or a suitcase that can hold your stuff). When we flew out of LGA over the Christmas holidays, we were told by the SkyCap that Delta now charges $3 for one of those plastic bags that they put over infant car seats. Seriously, what is up with that? (and as it turns out we didn't have to pay it because they were out of bags, at 6am in the morning).

Christina Talcott: Ha, I can't believe they ran out! Amazing.

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Adams Morgan, DC: Hi Crew,

A question (or two) about inter-country air travel in

Europe. Are there similar "requirements" there that you

arrive 90 minutes or so prior to the departure time as in

the US? Also, given similar ticket prices between rail and

air, which would you recommend in terms of convenience

and actual total travel time?

For frame of reference, I'm planning travel between the

Czech Republic, Slovakia (maybe Slovenia) and Hungary in

mid-April.

Thanks!

Cindy Loose: What a great trip! Before answering your question let me add I've done quite a bit of traveling in Slovenia and loved it. (Food is terrific, countryside is beautiful and varied. But before taking my word, which is of course biased, check out the story I did in our archives a few years ago, and if intrigued, check a guidebook.)

Now, as to the question: Although 90 minutes before a flight is longer than most countries will require for inner country flights, there is no question in my mind that you'd be better off on the train if the cost is similar. To fly you need to be at the airport early--how early is hard to say but early for sure--and you have to get out of town to reach the airport, and you end up in another out of the way airport, and planes can be late or get cancelled. The trains are most often on time, and downtown and relaxing and you can show up shortly before departure. Hands down, train.

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Midwest: My husband and I are going to a wedding in Laguna Beach, CA, at the end of May. We plan to add 2-3 days to the trip -- what are your recommendations for things to do? We're willing to rent a car, would like to explore areas outside Laguna Beach, and though we've been to CA for work/when we were kids, it's pretty much new and unexplored territory for us. We like just about everything, from beaches to beautiful landscapes/parks to cities/museums. Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: Confesstion: I love the MTV reality show "Laguna Beach" (the original), which to me was like a soap opera on the Travel Channel. Because of its wealthy population, the city has a fair number of amusements: seven miles of beach, about 100 galleries and shops, wineries, a cooking school, surf lessons, Hummer tours, etc. My picks would be the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, where sick sea lions and seals are rehabbed; hiking in the coastal canyons with the Laguna Canyon Foundation; a kayak tour to Seal Rock, home a California seal colony; and shopping, eating and people-watching (Is that L.C.?) along the main strip. For other outings, I would definitely go to the Channel Islands and visit the Mission San Juan Capistrano (if you are there March 15, you can witness the return of the swallows).

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Re: passports: You have to send in your passport to renew it anyway. Send the renewal form, your old passport, and something that proves your name change (like a marriage certificate).

They'll send you the old passport back, as well as your new one.

Andrea Sachs: Right you are. Do you secretly work for the State Deparment?

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Capitol Hill: First, let me say I really don't like escorted tours -- being told how long I can marvel at something so that all can move on to some super-exciting shopping opportunity really blows. But the husband and I are considering a trip to China and given the number of cities we'd like to visit (Beijing, Xian, Shanghai) and no ability with the language is an escorted tour the wisest choice? I'm worried about coordinating all the intra-China travel and hotel picks.

Carol Sottili: You can go with a travel company that puts it all together for you, but then you do it on your own. Try Monograms (www.monogramstravel.com). And look at our Way to Go section for a list of tour operators. Available at www.washingtonpost.com/travel, or wait and I'll send the link soon.

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washingtonpost.com: Tour Operators story in Way to Go issue.

Christina Talcott: Here's a link to our Tour Operators story from yesterday.

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Rockville, Md: Please remind the parent from Fairfax who wrote "... the problem is our kids don't have passports. I figure it is too late to get them .... " that they can pay for expedited service and send the passport applications off by express mail, and should get them in only a week or two. In fact, wasn't there a long article just on this issue in Sunday's WaPo?

Christina Talcott: Thanks for pointing that out! There definitely was a story about that - link coming up.

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washingtonpost.com: How to Make Sure Your Papers Are in Order

Christina Talcott: Passport info from yesterday's section...

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Pet peeve: People who recline their airline seat backs... not trying to start a fight (really!!) but isn't this everyone's pet peeve? Love the chats.

Christina Talcott: I am posting this on the condition that no one else mentions seat backs in this chat...

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Northern Virginia: If you had seven to nine days in Thailand, where would you go? We generally prefer urban areas, but we would like to see a mix of places without rushing everywhere.

KC Summers: Seven to nine days on the ground is enough time to explore Bangkok (a must), a beach (ditto) and an eco-oriented side trip like an elephant sanctuary or trek. Bangkok isn't hard to find info on, but two must-do's are the Jim Thompson House, an absolutely gorgeous house-museum in central Bangkok with beautiful furnishings and antiques (he was a silk entrepreneur who died mysteriously), and Wat Po and the other temples and shrines. And definitely get around by water taxi -- it's so fun, and the traffic is terrible.

As for beaches, I really loved Ko Chang, a really low-key place frequented by mostly Thais, but you could make a good case for going to Phuket right now and giving them your tourist dollars as they still fight to recover from the tsunami.

As for eco adventures, check out Cindy's recent story on Elephant Hills Nature Lodge, which we'll link to shortly.

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Another Rant: I hate when airlines change your flights and/or flight times months in advance of the actual flight, and then won't give you a reason why they're doing so. Air Tran has completely messed with the flights that I and a large group (about 20 people) booked back in November for a trip to New Orleans and they REFUSE to provide any concrete reason for the changes.

Christina Talcott: How frustrating!

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For the Alpine driver: Jealous! He or she may want to check with the National Capital Area BMW Club. Surely some experience with this question there!

Christina Talcott: Great advice. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: Re: animals on flights...

When my husband and I moved cross-country (SF to DC) a few years ago, we drove with our two dogs precisely to avoid crating them for a flight. I do think that (especially for larger animals who are not used to crating), it is rather cruel. I also have an extreme cat allergy and would be completely miserable on a plane with a cat, even if I were a few rows away. I can definitely see both sides of the argument (especially when you're going somewhere where driving is not an option), but finding the animal a good local home before you move might be best for all involved.

KC Summers: Yes, sometimes you just have to put others first.

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Deep Valley, USA: I'm pretty easygoing, but my pet peeve is people who want to sleep on my shoulder during red eye flights.

I hate poking a kid and waking her up, but I'm not having some strange adolescent (redundant, I know) drool on my shoulder.

Period.

Christina Talcott: What? You don't like strangers' drool?

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For Croatia-bound: Dubrovnik is always busy because of the cruise ships, so you may want to book hotels ahead of time. The rest of the country will probably be less so, but try to get out and see some of the islands and parks (Plitvice for one is gorgeous).

Also, when I went in Sept. 06, I flew on a cheap flight to Europe (Hamburg, Germany in this case) and took a cheap flight down to Zagreb on German Wings. But there are a lot of budget airlines that fly to Croatia, so that might make it cheaper, especially since you can't go direct from NY.

KC Summers: That's what I did too -- took a cheap flight from Munich to Zagreb, then another to Dubrovnik. Definitely worth checking out -- did you see our roundup of European low-budget carriers yesterday?

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washingtonpost.com: Where the Deer and Elephants Play, (Oct. 21, 2007)

KC Summers: For the Thailand-bound. Thanks Kim.

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Washington DC: Hi, Floight Crew. can you shed a little perspective for me on airline status? I've been gold for a while on the airline I use, but didn't quite make enough flights to qualify for this year, so would turn into a silver pumpkin. The airline, though, graciously allows me to buy status miles for $150 per thousand, and I'm having a hard time figuring whether it's worth it (you get double miles for each flight at gold, only 1.25 at silver, early boarding, and various other minor goodies) or whether I just like being gold. Help, please.

Carol Sottili: I'm no expert on frequent flyer miles, but there are people out there who specialize in this sort of thing. Try www.webflyer.com.

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Amtrak Rant: We took the train to NYC for a long weekend. I decided to be clever by using the ticket vending machine and a credit card to buy tickets for me and my partner. Worked like a charm, but although the machine allows you to buy multiple tickets, it doesn't let you specify passenger names. Out popped two tickets with my name on them and a notice that a valid photo ID was required for travelling. So I had to stand in a long ticket line and have the agent re-print one ticket with my partner's name. And then, of course, there was absolutely no photo id check at all on the train.

KC Summers: Um, yes, the Amtrak ticket machine does allow you to specify different passenger names. I do it all the time.

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Rosslyn, VA: Why would planning to travel for a honeymoon be any different than planning any other travel vacation? Go where you want to go and see what you want to see...

Carol Sottili: Some honeymooners look for places that cater to adults, offer spa services, etc.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I am going with my family to visit Montreal and Quebec City during the second half of August and am trying to nail down lodging, trip days. We are going to be in Montreal that it seems to make sense to rent an apartment for a week, but any suggestions for family oriented hotels and activities in and around Quebec's old city? Kids are ages 10, 12 if that helps.

Thanks.

Cindy Loose: If the kids are boys they might enjoy visiting the maze-like fort in the old city. YOu could rent bikes and pedal around. The Museum of Civilization has some fun interactive exhibits. They'll probably want to take the ski-lift-like cars that take you between the upper and lower parts of town. They can run around Battlefield Park, go to the wax museum, take a ferry across the St. Lawrence.

Some kids, but not all I suppose, should be entertained just walking around this historic city. If you're kids are likely to need something a bit more, I'd rent a car and take them to Montmorency Falls--probably misspelled but you'll find it on a Q.C. site--and maybe even over to the island for fishing in a stocked pond. About 20 miles north of town there is a cool waterslide type place that is frozen and used for sledding in winter---Village Vacances Valcartier or something like that.

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Re: Outdoor activities for college visits: The mother mentioned she had done the standard attractions numerous times, but I would head towards the Blue Ridge Parkway or GW Forest in the area of C'ville for a day hike. (Ask a UVA student how to get to Humpback Rocks- couple of mile hike for a GREAT view, I think it may be called Humpback Gap Overlook- or their favorite day hike on the Parkway.) The whale watching off of VA beach for the W&M visit would be great, however be sure to watch out for rush hour on 64. While at W&M ask a student there for something to do. Or while at the schools, attend some school activities- tickets to drama dept. production, evening lecture, etc.

John Deiner: Perfect response, great suggestions. And yeah, you're right about the traffic down there: It's horrendous. I love the suggestion about the drama department; great way to get a good sense of the school as well.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: One of my pet peeves is when a flight runs out of food. Often, one is rushing to a connecting flight and can't eat at a hub airport, so one boards thinking one can get food on the plane. There is that great feeling when one sees people in front of you eating and the flight attendant announces they are out of food when they get to you. Oh well, one can suffer for five hours on a flight and still live.

Christina Talcott: What about when all they have is the grosser of the two dinner entrees?

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Greenville, SC: My husband and I are going to Egypt in May on a tour. What type of clothing do you suggest taking? Although my research has mentioned that women need to dress conservatively, many photos of tourists at the sites show women in shorts and halter tops. I like to pack with a minimum of items.

Andrea Sachs: For sacred sites like mosques, cover up head to toe. Otherwise, Western attire is acceptable, but as in any country, skip the Hooters outfit: Don't wear clothing that is too tight, short or revealing. With the culture and climate, the most appropriate items are loose cotton tops; lightweight, mid-calf skirts; flowy dresses and pajama-like pants. If you must wear shorts, choose ones that are long and tailored. For real advice from women who live in or have visited Egypt, see Journeywoman, www.journeywoman.com/ccc/ccc-e.html.

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Kingstowne, VA: Two pet peeves:

(1) People sitting in the back of the plane who try to use the overhead lockers towards the front for their hand-baggage as they board (thus taking up the space so that the people sitting towards the front can't use the lockers). I was on a British Airways flight in World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and found a bag over my seat. Asked around and it didn't belong to anyone in WT+, so I asked the stewardess what I could do with my bag. She pulled out the offending back and walked back to Steerage and asked whose it was; some guy in the back raised his hand and she told him that the bag would be checked into the hold and that he could retrieve it at baggage claim. He was livid, but he was also out of luck. (That whole thing really chapped me since he wasn't even using an overhead in his own class of travel.)

(2) People who don't pay attention to the cruise lines' descriptions of shore excursions. If it says "lots of walking and lots of stairs" and you're about to have hip replacement surgery, don't go on that tour! (I sympathized with the little old lady who knew that she'd probably never get back to Russia, but I didn't sympathize enough to appreciate having her mess up a tour of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.)

Christina Talcott: Wow, two pet peeves - thanks for writing!

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re: Slovenia: Thanks for answering my previous question. We thought the

same thing after reading about Slovenia, but only have about

8 nights or so and it seems to be one of those can't-get-

there-from-here type places (complicated by our need to

meet friends in Lyon, FR on a set date). We're considering

saving it for it's own week long trip next year. I'll definitely

look up that article.

Cindy Loose: Fair enough--you can only do so much. Just congratulate yourselves for planning to see something in Eastern Europe. I find it more fascinating that Western Europe. One minute you'll see something like an unbelievably chic hotel built by Italians into modern design, and down there street someone carrying wood looks like they just stepped out of a photograph from 1940. Have a great time.

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Rockville, Md: I am looking at a particular group tour to Russia, and it is being offered through an American and a British travel operator. (Both have confirmed to me that it's the same package and they are working together, and it's land-only, so the international flights would be bought separately). Both operators seem to have good reputations, as far as I can tell. But after doing the currency conversion it looks like the American package costs about 20 percent more than the UK one. (Of course, if the American peso continues to decline the numbers might change, but you guys don't happen to have a crystal ball, do you?) My question is, is there any good reason why an American traveling from the U.S. shouldn't book a trip with a UK travel agent?

Carol Sottili: If you've done your homework, are convinced that it's a reputable agency, and are sure you've compared apples to apples, I don't see any overriding reason not to go with the UK agency. Have you tried contacting the U.S. agency and asking them to match the price?

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McLean, VA: My travel pet peeve is waiting for the beverage service cart to finish its trip down the aisle so that it is no longer blocking the way to (or back to my seat from) the restroom. My next biggest pet peeve is the way that -- no matter how little I've had to drink or how many times I've taken care of things at the airport before getting on the plane -- my bladder insists that it needs attention NOW whenever the aforementioned beverage service cart is in the aisle.

Christina Talcott: Sounds like you have some sort of Pavlovian response to the beverage cart. Interesting.

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Pet Peeve: I enthusiastically second the person who complained about people using six bins to go through security. Your shoes, jacket, and Ziploc need to go in a bin (and they can all fit in the same one!). Your purse, backpack, or laptop bag do not (I believe the laptop does need to be in a bin of its own, though). Please can we start a bin usage reeducation program?

Christina Talcott: Ha, good idea!

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For Alexandria, who's looking for an exotic honeymoon destination: Have you considered Portugal's Azores? They have a whole website with info on both honeymoons and destination weddings there:

http://www.weddingsinportugal.com/destination_wedding_locations/azores.html

I've met honeymooning couples from Europe and the US on my trips there, and they all seemed to like the leisurely pace, unspoiled scenery and temperate climate (although it doesn't have as many beaches as some folks might prefer).

Cindy Loose: Thanks.

Also, honeymooners---check this past Sunday's travel section. Under a story about frequently asked questions, we provided hints and suggestions of resources for planning a honeymoon.

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Ggoing to india!: I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for a place to stay in Jodhpur, India. I would like to stay in the city center, but it seems like those places don't get very good reviews. Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: We have not been to Jodhpur yet, but my guess is one or two or a dozen of the chatsters have. Anyone have lodging suggestions?

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Taking Kitty on the Plane: I'd say leave the cat at home if you're going on vacation, but the prior poster is MOVING. She shouldn't have to give her pet away if there is a reasonable method of transportation. Generally I have little sympathy for people who go into histrionics at the thought of sniffles from pet allergies or a whif of cigarette smoke. Get over yourselves, people. Take a sudafed and move on. However, it would probably be less stressful for the cat owner and the cat to look into specialized pet transport. Depending on the requirements of the country she is moving to, animal quarantine policies may be strict and could be alleviated with the asssitance of a pet moving company. That way everyone wins. Pet gets safe, secure transport and allergy-sufferers find something else to complain about.

KC Summers: Wow, I can only hope that you don't develop allergies anytime soon (it can happen at any point in life). Allergies to dogs and cats can be serious and life-threatening, and it can take a hell of a lot more than a Sudafed to help in the case of a severe reaction. Owner-pet relationship notwithstanding, I think people have to come first. Plus, you're putting your pet at risk. Even with a pet transport service.

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pet peeve...luggage, what else???: I absolutely hate it when people bring two carry-ons and put them in the forward (not first class) overhead bins, and then go to take their seats far back in the plane...just so they don't have to carry the bags all the way to the rear of the plane. Or when they plop their bags on top of my nice wool coat in the overhead compartment. or when they absolutely refuse to put things under the seat, even if it means that other people will have to have their carry-on bag checked at the gate...!

Christina Talcott: This seems to be a common aggravation.

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Airplane coffee/tea: I didn't post that comment, but I think the commenter may have been referring to the problem of tap water on airplanes. It comes from a water tank on the plane, which is rarely cleaned out, and may have been filled in a different location (say, if the plane last stopped in Mexico City, that's where they fill up), so if the water in that location is problematic, that's what you're getting.

I think this may have changed based on some voluntary agreements among the airlines, by the way, so it may not be the case anymore.

John Deiner: Good point there. I was wondering about that myself when I saw that comment. I did the blog item on the hotel glasses, and if you haven't checked out the item or the video that ran with it, you should: It's pretty chilling stuff!

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Bethesda, MD: Yes! I'd like to second DC's remark about giving up your seating for stupid parents who didn't realize their seats were not together. I had a woman get really nasty with me since I wouldn't give up my aisle seat for her so she could sit next to her 14 or 15 year old kid. I've had 5 knee surgeries and my company pays good money so I can have an aisle seat. I'm not taking your center seat and subjecting myself to agony for hours no matter how much you complain. And the best part... Her son was pretty happy to be away from her for those 6 hours on the plane.

Christina Talcott: She probably just wanted to keep an eye on him, and he should have thanked you!

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Arlington, VA: Oh, Christina, Custer State Park is a great place to visit in the Black Hills, but Custer's Last Stand was in Montana--hundreds of miles away.

Christina Talcott: Oy, you're right! Thanks for catching that!

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Pet peeves: Where to start?

--People who put their shoes into the plastic bins at the airport instead of just putting them on the belt. Those bins are used for things like jackets, laptop bags, etc., and putting your shoes in them just filthies them up for everyone else.

--People who wait until they reach the ID checkpoint to look for their IDs and the like. (Sort of like people who write a check at the grocery store but who don't pull out the checkbook until ALL items have been scanned and bagged.)

--The TSA and some of the silly rules that have nothing to do with real security. Need I say more?

--Parents who let their kids pull on the back of your seat on the plane and then get mad at you when you say something. Sorry, I don't care if your kids' feelings get hurt. If you won't discipline them, then I feel entitled to tell them to quit it.

--Not unique to travel per se: People who hog the passing lane on the highway even when the slow lane is clear. (I say "passing" and "slow" to reflect that this annoys me equally in countries where you drive on the left.) I'm from Virginia and it seems that even if I'm in Quebec the left-lane hog will have a Virginia license plate.

--Americans who expect every shop in the world to accept dollars, even in a country where the euro is the local currency, and who get angry when their dollars are refused.

Christina Talcott: More rants...

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Washington, D.C.: My rant is how when flying back from Canada via Minneapolis-St. Paul, my bags didn't make it to DCA. While it's true my layover was 45 minutes, down from the scheduled hour and five, the plane I landed in pulled up to the gate right next to the one with the plane that was going to DCA. The reason? My bags got screened by the TSA. Same thing happened to me earlier in the year too. Are they concerned that the Canadians can't do a good enough job that they have to re-scan bags? I could add a rant about the joys of collecting bags the day after and other assorted NWA complaints, but that would take even longer.

Christina Talcott: Yeah, the extra security measures, especially when they're between Canada and the US, can be aggravating.

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Arlington, VA: I need to go to London at the end of August for a little over a week. At the moment fares from WAS are running around $1100 in economy including taxes. Since the "cheap" seats are so expensive I am thinking of just going ahead and buying a business class seat on BA or Virgin. Those seats are about $3800 at the moment, but they are fully horizontal beds, not the tilted "flat" seats that many other airlines have in business. Does it makes sense to go ahead and just buy a ticket now, or is there much prospect that they will eventually fall a bit? I don't imagine they would go down by more than a couple of hundred bucks. Are there agents who specialize in front of the plane tickets who might have cheaper seats? I could pay less on United or American but if I am paying that much I want real comfort.

Carol Sottili: Sale fares for late summer travel in economy may go down to $800 or so, but that may not happen if cost of jet fuel keeps going up. $3,800 for business class is a good price. Have you looked into premium economy? That's how I fly. It's the middle ground - no flat seats, but cheaper than business class.

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Cancun rant:: OK, this was my own fault but maybe it will help others

avoid the sales pitch. After you collect your luggage at

the airport you go through double doors to an area with

rental car booths and people trying for your attention. We

said we're staying at a Palace resort and already have

transportation. The man said, "Oh, you should talk to

these people about the Mayan Palace." We thought we

were getting a tour of a new Palace resort but ended up in

a BRUTAL time share sales talk. We were there 4 hours

and only got out when I lost my temper. The people were

rude and wouldn't take no for an answer.

So when you arrive at the Cancun airport push right

through the sales people. Of course, if you haven't

arranged transportation it's another whole big fight

outside with the taxis.

Christina Talcott: Thanks for writing in. Hopefully this will save other Cancun-bound travelers from having the same experience.

_______________________

Arlington, VA: for the people going to China but who hate tours, for sure you can find companies out there that will make all the arrangements and set you up with your own personal guides to show you around. I recommend Purple Dragon, altho I have not used them in China I have used them in Thailand and Cambodia. They cover all of SE Asia as well as China and India. www.purpledrag.com

With regard to the person with only 7-9 days in Thailand it might be a lot of traveling around to get to a beach as well, and if they prefer urban areas a beach visit might not make sense with that little time. I would say base yourselves in Bangkok and see the sites there. And they you can do day trips to places like Ayutthaya (one of the old capitals with interesting ruins) and maybe Lopburi. It will take you a day or two to get acclimated anyway once you are on the ground. There are tons of things to do in Bangkok and yes the traffic is crazy and it can be chaotic but it is also exciting and fun. And Thai hospitality is second to none.

Christina Talcott: Thanks for the suggestions!

Carol Sottili: Thanks.

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Road Trip: We have decided to do our first road trip with the kids this summer. We plan on 10-14 days with 1-3 night stays in several locations traveling from Maryland to Maine. Our 6 year old has a fascination with geography and we want her to be able to help plan the trip. I am looking for maps that are detailed enough to give information for trip planning but not so much detail that they are impossible to read. Any off beat stops would also be greatly appreciated.

KC Summers: That's a nice thought, RT. I'd start at the Map Store at 16th and Eye streets NW (officially the ADC Map and Travel Center, www.adcmap.com). If anyone knows from maps, they do, and they have a lot of family-friendly products. Also try the National Geographic shop and Rand McNally. Also, consider going to AAA -- if you're a member, they provide custom maps for your trips and point out attractions along the way.

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Deep Valley, USA: Tip: don't believe the seat maps on Orbitz et al if you have elite status on the airline. They won't let you reserve the good seats even if you qualify.

So even if it looks on OrbTravExpedia like there are only rotten seats, go ahead and book, then change your seat on the airline site.

I almost passed on a great deal to LAX over that issue.

John Deiner: Hey, DV. Thanks for the tip. I know a lot of airlines reserve seats up until the last minute, so it's always good to check back to see if any of the better seats have opened up before you fly.

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Flying with Cats: I've flown with my cat many times for reasons that apparently are not good enough for the tough Flight Crew crowd but the bottom line is though that I pay for that privilege (now $75 each way) and I also have to make my reservations in-person or on the phone so I have to pay the extra ticketing fee because each domestic flight has a limit on how many animals total (in cabin and down below) it will take on. It's true that some people might have allergies but it's an airplane. It by design carries hundreds of people from point A to point B. The price we all pay for mass transport is that we might be uncomfortable. If someone's allergies are so severe that they can't tolerate being on a plane with animals then they have the responsiblity to ask if any animals are booked on that particular flight. I really don't understand why this is such a big issue. My cat may not love the travel experience but neither do I. More importantly she is my pet, my companion and I am honor bound to continue to take care of her for her life -- even if I move cross-country. Advocating dumping a pet on another friend or family member seems like a harsh suggestion.

KC Summers: Strong feelings on this issue. You make a good point that people who are allergic should check beforehand about any four-legged passengers -- but what if a cat-and-owner book at the last minute? The allergy-sufferer can't plan for that.

It seems a little more clear-cut when you're talking about travel in the U.S. Then at least you can drive.

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Washington, DC: I lived in China about 6 years ago, and brought our family dog with us. Best decision of my life. It can be lonely being an ex-pat in a foreign land, and who knows when you will get to see your beloved family member again.

Bring the cat.

KC Summers: One vote for the cat.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi there!

My boyfriend and I are looking to get out of the city and find a place to stay for the weekend where we can do some hiking or snowshoeing. Once when we stayed in New Hampshire, we found this really cool, low-key, eco-friendly "hostel" located on a farm. We were wondering if there was anything like that around here?

Andrea Sachs: One idea: The Miracle Farm B&B shares its name with the non-profit Sustainable Living Center and Animal Sanctuary in Floyd, Va. (The cabin has a composting toilet). There is loads of hiking, birding, fishing and bluegrass music in this corner of the world. I also stayed at the White Pig B&B, a lodge in Central Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains with a soft spot for all living creatures.

Also check the eco-listings at www.ecohotelsoftheworld.com.

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Arlington, VA: I am a Foreign Service spouse who has traveled with a cat (two different ones) to Europe (twice), Thailand, Mexico and Australia due to our various postings. On the flight from Australia to the US we were required to put our cat in the cargo hold (which was probably more traumatic for me than the cat). Otherwise, the cat has always traveling in the cabin with us and we have NEVER had a problem with the cat meowing or with passengers complaining about the cat. (Cats usually enjoy the confined space of a cat carrier and they feel secure there.)

I appreciate those who have allegies to cats and dogs, but as long as the airlines allow pets in the cabin, I am within my rights to do so. Until they are prohibited, the cat flies with me.

Also, you must never have been posted overseas for an extensive time. It's very reassuring to me, my husband and our kids to have our pet with us during that time. It's just a little bit more of "home".

KC Summers: Another vote for cats in the air. Thanks for your comments on this, everyone. It's a wrenching issue.

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Airplane water: I had an experience on a KLM flight from Kazakhstan where we ran out of water on the way back to Amsterdam (and paper towels, but not as much of an issue as water) -- apparently KLM would NOT take water on at the Almaty airport. And this was a few years ago. Maybe the worrying about your coffee/tea thing is a thing of the past.

John Deiner: Sounds like it may be AW. We'll have to poke around a little and get an answer to this.

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Alps driving:: We picked up our new Volvo and toured Sweden and Norway.

You should keep in mind roads can and will be narrow -

some 1 1/2 cars wide. Don't go by distances on a map and

assume US highway driving times. We found a Norway mile

takes much longer to travel.

It was great to have a car and be able to explore. The S60 is

my husband's favorite souvenir. Hey, Travel staff wouldn't

the buy abroad programs make a great story?

KC Summers: Hey guess what, we did that story! But it's been a few years (maybe three). I could dig it out of the archives if anyone wants to check it out -- just email (we're outta time right now).

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Giving up seats to stupid parents: Give me a freakin' break. Do you know how many times I've booked a flight with my toddler (now 2.5) and we have not been seated together. The airline will not do anything about it unitl you're at the gate, and occassionally at the gate they tell you to take care of it on board. Beleive me, I hate having to be put in the position to beg someone to move, but don't blame the parents, it's the stupid airlines. And try some compassion.

KC Summers: Amen.

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Christina Talcott: Whew, that was fun! Thanks for joining us, everyone, and for sharing your pet peeves. The person who sent in the rant about the mom wanting to sit next to her teenage son, please send your name and address to talcottc@washpost.com, and I'll send you your prize. Until next week!

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