Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tips To Spend Time When Get Delay

Almost every frequent flyer has been stuck at an airport due to weather, mechanical issues or other delays. Sometimes “stuck” can mean overnight. How you react to that disruption says a lot about your ability to handle the unexpected. Anger does little good; getting creative can soothe the soul and maybe even lead to a pleasant experience. There’s no need to play Angry Birds for 4 hours. Here are a few tips to make your layover downtime more productive.

Get a 1-Day Airline Pass
Even if you’re not a member of an airline’s airport club, many offer 1-day memberships. American Airlines, for example, charges $50 for a 1-day pass, and up to 3 children under the age of 18 are permitted to join an adult at no extra charge. You’ll pay for drinks, but snacks and Wi-Fi are on the house. Rules vary among airlines. Delta, for example, allows no guests on its $50, 1-day pass, but the booze is complimentary. An airport lounge is usually a comfortable and relatively quiet place to spread out and accomplish some work.

Head to the Chapel
If you crave a quiet space but don’t want to spring for an airport club membership, find the airport’s chapel and settle in with work materials or a book. But make sure to check your airline’s departure board from time to time. Just because a gate agent says your flight is delayed for 3 hours doesn’t mean it won’t leave sooner if, say, the weather clears or a mechanical problem is solved quickly.

Find Friends on Google Latitude
Find your friends and have a party, or at least lunch. Several location apps allow you to use your smartphone to track the whereabouts of friends. If you have Google’s Latitude app on your phone, for example, you can check to see if anyone you know (who is also on Latitude) is stuck in the airport, too. Nearly 2 million people pass through Atlanta’s airport a year, for example — surely you know one of them.

Discover Things to Do Near the Airport
At any airport, if your layover is long enough for you to leave the airport, ask a local what’s within an easy cab ride that’s worth visiting. The tour desk at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, for example, can arrange a quick tour of the city that’s only 6 miles from the airport.

Stuck in Abu Dhabi? The Al Ghazal Golf Club is adjacent to the airport, and passengers are welcome in its English-style clubhouse. And if you’ve never played on a sand golf course, it makes for great dinner conversation later when you describe such hazards as burrows dug by desert lizards. Golf clubs are available for rental.

If you find yourself stranded at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, hop the sleek light-rail train for the 6-minute ride to the Mall of America, and get a little holiday shopping done between rides on the indoor roller coaster.

Check Out Airport Museums and Art Displays
You already know you can shop ’til you drop in major airports around the world, but you can often engage in more mind-improving activities as well. San Francisco’s airport has well-curated, rotating displays of art, metalwork and even vintage airplanes scattered throughout various terminals. In SFO’s International Terminal, you’ll find the fascinating Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum. Check out the 1920s Ford Tri-Motor passenger seat (that looks like your grandparents’ wicker chair), a mint-condition Pan Am tea set and the various styles of flight attendant uniforms through the years.

At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, just steps away from a casino is a mini-art museum, a branch of Amsterdam’s renowned Rijksmuseum. Want to know what the airport you’re stuck in has on offer? Just check the airport’s website.

Don’t Do Something Stupid
Wait, I’m not really advocating this, but if you type in any search engine “stupid things to do at an airport,” you’ll be surprised by the number of postings by folks who clearly have too much time on their hands. These days, it’s not advisable to do anything stupid at an airport. Playing the slot machines at the Vegas or Amsterdam airports is smarter than doing something that will draw the attention of airport security personnel.

But you can certainly get a cardio work out doing some serious walking in large airports without ever leaving an airport’s secure area. Many airports have mini-spas that offer massages and other treatments. And if you’re a Type A traveler who complains you have no time to think uninterrupted or to read a book or magazine from cover to cover, a layover is just what the psychologist ordered.

How To Charter Flights

Over the past few years, charter rules have been relaxed to make lower cost air transportation available to more people. “Public Charters” can be purchased from a tour operator, a travel agent, or sometimes directly from the airline. If your flight has been arranged by a club or other organization for its members, it may be what is called an “affinity” charter flight. These charters generally do not carry the consumer protection provisions of Public Charters. Be sure you know what kind of charter flight you are purchasing. A Public Charter may include only the flights, or it may be sold as a complete package, including hotels, guided tours, and ground transportation. Either way, your rights are spelled out in a contract you have with the tour operator. The operator or your travel agent should give you a contract to sign at the time you purchase your trip. Read it before you pay any money.

The Department of Transportation requires tour operators to disclose certain information in your contract about the restrictions that they impose and also rights that you have under DOT rules:

You usually pay penalties if you cancel. The closer to departure you cancel, the bigger the penalty. On some charters, if a substitute can go in your place you only lose a $25 fee. You can buy trip cancellation insurance. These policies usually provide a refund in case you must cancel due to illness or death in the family. Your travel agent or tour operator can tell you how to buy the insurance and what health conditions it does or doesn’t cover. Charter cancellation insurance often won’t pay you if you must cancel because of a preexisting condition.

The tour operator or airline can cancel a Public Charter for any reason up until 10 days before departure. Your flight might be canceled if it doesn’t sell well or for some other reason. This is a risk you take in return for a low fare. (During the last 10 days before departure, a Public Charter can be canceled only if it is physically impossible to operate it.)

All charter flights and ground arrangements are subject to changes. Signing a contract does not guarantee that prices won’t go up or that itineraries won’t change. But, if there is a “major change” in your flight or tour, you have the right to cancel and get a penalty-free refund. Major changes include:

A change in departure or return city (not including a simple change in the order in which cities are visited).

A change in departure or return date, unless the date change results from a flight delay. (However, a flight delay of more than 48 hours is a major change.)

A substitution of a hotel that was not named as an alternate hotel in your contract.

An increase in price, if the total of all increases billed to you is more than 10% of what you originally paid. (No increases are allowed during the last 10 days before departure.)

If your tour operator notifies you of a major change before departure, you get a full refund if you decide to cancel. If you choose not to cancel, the operator is not required to make partial refunds. However, if you don’t find out about a change until after your trip has begun, you can reject the changed flight or hotel, make and pay for your own alternative plans, and insist on a refund for the changed component when you get home.

No “open returns” are allowed on round-trip public charters. Be sure you have a specific return date, city, and flight, so you won’t be stranded.

The tour operator has to take specific steps to protect your money. The tour operator must have a surety agreement, such as a bond, and must usually have an escrow account at a bank that holds your money until your flight operates. If your money is going into a charter escrow account, the bank will be named in your contract, and the check that is sent to the charter operator should be made payable to that bank. (If you are using a travel agent, it’s OK for you to make your check out to that agent; he or she will cut a check payable to the escrow account.)

Identify the departure date and destination on the face of the check. If a tour operator goes out of business you should contact the surety company or bank identified in your contract for a refund.

You alone are responsible for knowing if you need a visa and passport for your trip. You can be certain of the visa and passport rules of the countries you plan to visit by calling or writing their embassies in Washington, D.C. or their consulates in some major U.S. cities.

If your luggage gets lost during your tour, there may be a dispute over who is liable. The charter airlines process claims for bags that were lost or damaged while in their possession. If it is not clear where the problem occurred (e.g. between the airport and a hotel), the operator and the airline may both decline liability.

To cover yourself, find out if your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy covers losses that happen when you’re away from home. You might also ask your travel agent if there’s a one-shot baggage insurance policy available to cover baggage problems while you are on your charter trip.

Your charter may be delayed. Last-minute schedule changes and departure delays of several hours are not uncommon on charters. A flight can be delayed up to 48 hours before the charter operator must offer you the option to cancel with a full refund.

Charters and scheduled flights operate independently of each other. If there’s a delay on the scheduled flight connecting you to the city where your charter departs, causing you to miss your charter, you lose your flight and money. Charter reservations are only good for one flight. If you miss it for any reason, you’re probably out of luck. Check with the tour operator to see if he has another charter flying to your destination.

If your charter is late returning and causes you to miss a scheduled connecting flight back to your home, you have to pay your own expenses while you wait for the next connection. If you have a discount fare on a scheduled connecting flight you could lose it if the returning charter is delayed. Then you, not the airlines or tour operator, have to pay more for a regular non-discount fare.

Your baggage can’t be checked through from a scheduled flight to a charter, and vice-versa. You have to claim your baggage and re-check it yourself. When planning a charter, allow plenty of time to check in at the airport from which your charter leaves, or from which you have a connecting flight. On international trips, remember that you may encounter delays in Customs.

You might find seating space for your charter plane to be more crowded than you’re used to. The low charter rate depends in part on spreading costs over a large number of people with virtually all of the seats being filled.

If a charter flight hasn’t sold out shortly before departure, the operator can sell seats at bargain basement prices to latecomers. Some who have paid the regular price well in advance may object, but should realize that the operator’s alternative may be to cancel the flight altogether for economic reasons.

Charter rates are relatively low, but might not be the cheapest fare to your destination. Ask your travel agent to compare fares on scheduled and charter flights for you.

Charters offer nonstop flights for an affordable price. They can be a wise travel investment if you can be flexible in your travel plans. Just be sure you know the conditions for the trip you’re buying before you pay for it.

Some Tips and Tricks to Navigate Trudeau Airport

Montreal’s Trudeau Airport (YUL) is more than a destination airport. Passengers flying between continents ease their transition in a city that combines European flair with the efficiency of North America. And while the province of Quebec outside the airport proudly displays its French face, English is used and understood everywhere in the airport.

Trudeau Airport Location
Trudeau Airport is only 10 miles west of the center of Montreal. Signs throughout Montreal point to Aéroport Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, but it’s often called Dorval Airport, which is a reference to the suburb where it’s located.

Coming and Going
Snow is unlikely to cause more than a hiccup. Canadians are prepared for inclemency. Fair-weather access can be another matter.

Roads all around the airport are being torn up and reconstructed to accommodate a rapid-transit line and revamped interchange. Short-term relief is on the way with reserved bus and taxi lanes to be implemented on the expressway to downtown Montreal. Direct access by train is years away, though a commuter station and a stop on the Montreal-Toronto VIA Rail route are located about a mile away.

The most convenient transportation option from the terminal to downtown is the 24-hour, 747 bus route. Vehicles have plenty of luggage space, stop near major hotels, and terminate at the central bus station. The $8 ticket (exact change in Canadian coins) is valid for the day on the entire bus and metro network.

By taxi, the fixed fare to downtown is $38; metered rates apply to more distant destinations. Limousine fares start at $50.

If you rent a car, follow the signs to Dorval, Highway 20 and Centre-Ville (downtown). But first inquire about current detours.

There are 3 departure areas: domestic, transborder (US) and international. Get your bearings to avoid retracing your steps. Passengers headed for the United States clear US Customs and Border Protection before boarding, avoiding long lines upon landing.

New Developments
The international arrivals hall is cavernous, following completion of renovations in 2009, and the duty-free shop has expanded its size. Dozens of stores and shops sell souvenirs and fast food. Chair and table massages are available from Airspa in departure areas. Aside from airline-specific lounges, the TD first-class lounge in the international departures area can be booked for about $30. Everything you need is under 1 roof.

The Overnighter
The new terminal includes a Marriott Hotel with 279 rooms, pool and fitness center. The airport grounds include an Aloft Hotel and a Sheraton. Among the nearest off-airport hotels with shuttles are the Fairfield Inn and the Comfort Inn Dorval. Within a couple of miles are a Best Western, Days Inn and Travelodge.

Day Tripping
Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can usually count on getting to downtown Montreal and back in a half hour by the 747 bus. Take advantage of the time between planes to chill at a sidewalk café, power shop in boutiques on Rue St. Denis, view Old Montreal from a horse-drawn calèche, or sample incomparable Montreal bagels redolent of a wood-burning oven.

The immediate area around the airport is suburban. For a variety of local shopping, take the 204 or 209 bus from the terminal ($3 in coins) 1 stop to the Dorval transit station (or walk on a pleasant day, about a mile through the parking lots). Cross to the large shopping center on the south side of the highway. Here you’ll find La Baie (Hudson’s Bay Company) department store and assorted Canadian-flavored shopping opportunities.

For a taste of Montreal’s West Island before it was suburbanized, continue with the same bus ticket on the 211 bus from Dorval to old Pointe-Claire. Get off on Bord-du-Lac, the road parallel to the St. Lawrence River, and stroll by the old stone mill. There are enough cafés, curio shops and pubs to pique your interest for several hours.

Food Finds
The restaurant of choice at Trudeau Airport is Cabine M, a steak house and wine bar overlooking the runways in the international departure area. A simplified haute-cuisine menu based on local specialties includes maple-smoked salmon, steaks, cheese plates and charcuterie. If you’re not flying internationally, head for the upscale, but still informal, Bijou Resto Bar in the Marriott Hotel.

Elsewhere in the airport, Subway and Burger King coexist with local brands like St-Hubert Express (roast chicken) and Brûlerie St-Denis (fresh coffee and pastries). Casey’s, in the public concourse, has table service and an American-style menu, while the Métrople has a more local flavor. Tim Hortons is the quintessential Canadian stop for coffee and donuts. Sit-down service includes Weinstein & Gavino’s (pizza and sandwiches, (US departures only); Tatami Sushi (US and international departures only); and Moe’s Deli (Canadian flights only).

Going Mobile
Bell Canada has internet/email kiosks. Free Wi-Fi access is available in departure areas; paid Wi-Fi works elsewhere.

For airport information, dial (514) 394-7377 or (800) 465-1213, email, or visit Aeroports de Montreal. SMS flight updates are available from your airline, or directly from the airport. Or text your 2-letter airline code and flight number to 23636 for automatic updates.