After the Bombings
As London deals with the aftermath of Thursday's deadly explosions, here's what travelers need to know:
* As CoGo went to press Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in London was advising American citizens to defer all nonessential travel to the London area until further notice, although the U.S. State Department had issued no announcement or travel warning regarding the United Kingdom. For the latest information: 888-407-4747 or www.travel.state.gov. Earlier Thursday, London tourism officials were urging visitors not to cancel their plans, and anecdotal information from tour operators indicates most are still going. Scott Nisbet, vice president of marketing for the Globus Family of Brands, an umbrella organization for five major tour companies, said it has thousands of U.S. travelers in London at any given moment. "We're not getting a big wave of cancellations," Nisbet said. "It's similar to the reaction we got after the Madrid bombings. We're getting just a handful of cancellations."
* At press time, mainline train service had been restored, the Heathrow Express from the airport to London was running, bus service had been partially restored, and air service remained uninterrupted. Underground service is likely to be limited, especially to the affected stations, for some time. For the latest transit reports: Transport for London, 011-44-20-7222-1234, www.transportforlondon.gov.uk. For air travel: BAA (the British airports authority), www.baa.co.uk.
* London theaters went dark Thursday after police advised that people not travel into central London. Museums remained open. For the latest theater news: London Theatre Guide, 011-44-20-7557-6700, www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk. For general tourism information: Visit London, www.visitlondon.com.
* After 9/11, many travelers found themselves forced to travel or lose their money, but most travel insurance policies now cover terrorism. If you purchased insurance and your travel plans include London, chances are you're covered if you're too frightened to travel or you want to come home early. Dan McGinnity, vice president of Travel Guard, said most of its policies will reimburse travelers if they are going to London within 30 days of the attacks, and will also pay for them to come home early.
Miles for Soldiers
Seven U.S. airlines are allowing frequent fliers to donate their miles so that troops injured in Iraq or Afghanistan can be visited by family members.
Pam Lea-Maida of the Fisher House Foundation, which manages Operation Hero Miles in coordination with the military and the airlines, says the program uses 2.5 to 3 million frequent-flier miles a week to obtain tickets that reunite the injured and their families. She said the program is in particular need of America West miles.
You can now get double the bang when donating American Airlines miles: The airline will match each mile you donate between now and Sept. 5, or until it reaches its cap of 17.76 million miles.
Other airlines currently accepting mileage donations that are then passed on to Operation Hero Miles: Northwest, Delta, Alaska, Continental and Air Tran.
US Airways has donated more than 70 million miles to the program, but is not currently accepting more donations from frequent fliers. Independence Air has agreed to make unsold seats available to the foundation. "We hope United will come on board soon," said Lea-Maida. Southwest does not participate.
The military pays for three members of a family to visit a hospitalized soldier. The volunteer program helps additional family members travel.
Each airline has its own procedures for how to donate, and some airlines require a minimum number of miles. Check with your airline, or get the lowdown at www.fisherhouse.org.
BARGAIN OF THE WEEK
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Reporting: Cindy Loose, Carol Sottili.
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