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Coming And Going

Before You Cancel, Read the Fine Print

Aloha also means goodbye: The Pride of Aloha is leaving Hawaii for Asia.
Aloha also means goodbye: The Pride of Aloha is leaving Hawaii for Asia. (By Tim Wright -- Associated Press)
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Sunday, February 17, 2008; Page P01

UPRIGHT AND LOCKED

Before You Cancel, Read the Fine Print

Sarah Lesinsky, a student at Michigan State University, reluctantly canceled her trip to Copenhagen when a part-time job opportunity suddenly arose. The $1,213 United ticket bought through Travelocity was nonrefundable, and she knew she'd have to swallow a $200 penalty from United and a $30 Travelocity rebooking fee. She figured she'd use the $983 balance to take a couple of short jaunts.

This Story

She recently called Travelocity to book a four-day trip from Detroit to Atlanta . No problem, she was told, but you'll spend your entire balance -- plus you owe $230 on top of that. In other words, Lesinsky would end up paying $1,443 for a flight that often starts at less than $300 . She had run smack into a relatively common rule for international tickets: If you make a change, the new ticket must have a value equal to or greater than the original . Plus, any penalties may not come out of the original payment.

Rules for domestic tickets are less draconian. Typically, the penalty is $50 to $100, and if you buy a ticket that is cheaper than the original, you can apply the difference to the penalty . If you still have a credit left over, you often can apply it to yet another ticket .

Most airlines apply the strict rule to some international tickets, but not all ; the rules are stated upfront so you can know before you buy. Bottom line: Read the rules, and if you're required to use a credit for a ticket of equal or greater value, don't blow it on a cheap seat. Better to be in Paris or Copenhagen, even for four days, than Atlanta.

WEB WATCH

Worth Clicking

Seems someone always has a new idea for the Web. Here are new launches worth a look:

* Farecast.com. CoGo has long turned to Farecast when wanting to know if a particular domestic fare was a good deal and whether prices were likely to go up or down . This month the site added fare histories and price predictions for cities in Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and Canada. Plus, if you're on a budget and want to get away to the best place you can afford, type in how much you can spend for airfare and Farecast will reveal which destinations fit your price.

* Yellowpages.travel. Like to look at multiple sites for airfares but tire of repeatedly typing in the details? Go to http://www.yellowpages.travel, type cities and dates once, then search 11 sites without retyping your trip info . Sites include the Big Three (Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz), reverse bidding sites such as Hotwire and Priceline, aggregators such as Kayak and Sidestep, and lesser-known sites such as CheapOAir. Yellowpages also searches for deals exclusive to airline sites. Hotels.com, Hostelbookers.com and AutoEurope.com also are available to search on the site, and cruises and vacation packages are coming soon.

* HotelCashRebates.com. Get a 5 percent rebate when booking hotel rooms at a new site, http://www.hotelcashrebates.com. Checks are sent a month after your stay. If you've spent a week in an expensive city such as New York, 5 percent could be significant. CoGo did a quickie test, comparing offerings of HotelCashRebates.com and the better-known and established Hotels.com for a sample date in New Orleans. Prices and choices were similar, with the exception of special exclusive deals each site was able to claim. As always, it pays to shop around.

* Two new niche sites. Info about cruising from any of the three New York area ports (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J.) is available at http://www.cruisingfromnewyork.com. And a Hawaii travel site for gays , http://www.hawaiigaytravel.com, offers deals and help in planning commitment ceremonies.

TRAVEL TICKER

National Geographic is launching a series of high school student expeditions , beginning this summer, that combine travel and adventure with learning experiences. On part of each trip, students are joined by Geographic experts including writers, photographers, researchers and explorers. Details: 877-877-8759, http://www.ngstudentexpeditions.com. . . Norwegian Cruise Line will have only one ship cruising the Hawaiian islands as of May 11. The line announced last week that the Pride of Aloha will be reflagged and deployed to Asia. Recently, NCL took the Pride of Hawaii from its Hawaii operation. The newest move leaves just the Pride of America there.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

Aer Lingus has spring and summer sale fares from Washington Dulles to Ireland. Fares vary by date. For travel April 6-30, nonstop flights to Dublin start at $481 ($83 taxes included). Best value is July 2-Aug. 31, when the round-trip fare costs $642 with taxes; on other airlines, summer fares start at $950. Cheapest flights depart Monday-Thursday. Book by Wednesday Feb. 20 at ww.aerlingus.com.

Reporting: Cindy Loose

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to cogo@washpost.com.


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