October 21, 2013

Travel FAQs

Q: Why should I use a travel consultant?

A: Using a travel consultant allows you to take advantage of industry-trained professionals to find low fares, arrange custom itineraries, and offer expertise in traveling worldwide. Many agencies charge nominal fees for certain services however, the savings you may receive far outweigh those costs. Travel consultants stay abreast of the most current and timely promotions and analyze those promotions, keeping in mind that “cheapest is not always best”. They can make recommendations based on their experience and knowledge of destinations, as well as the trends in the travel industry. Your travel consultant provides one-stop shopping for all of your travel needs. Whether it’s airline tickets, cruises, hotel and car reservations, or that dream trip to Europe, travel consultants provide information and advice that is in the best interests of their clients. Should problems arise, your travel consultant is your best ally in helping to get them resolved.

Q: Is the Internet the best source for cheap airfares?

A: Sometimes. However, many sites offer fares that may not be available when you want to travel, and are biased toward certain air carriers. In fact, we found that often clients check only to find that we can beat the price the Internet offered. We encourage our clients to mainly use the Internet for informational purposes. Once booked on the Internet, you lose control over your reservation. You may also run into problems if you need to cancel or change your ticket. Some Internet travelers are not advised of airline schedule changes. If you purchase a ticket from a travel agency and the fare goes down, you may be rebated back the difference in travel vouchers. This is not done through the Internet. Internet buyers names are often sold to “mailing lists” and these sites rarely make any guarantees regarding the accuracy of the data they provide. Finally, many people still do not feel comfortable sending their credit card information to an unknown company in “cyberspace”.

Q: How much baggage can I take?

A: You are allowed to check 2 pieces, and carry on 1. Each checked bag cannot exceed 70lbs, and your carry on cannot exceed 40lbs.

Q: Why can’t I ever get the seat assignment I want?

A: Airlines only pre-assign about 65% of the seats on a given flight. They also block seats for their premier frequent flyers and full fare passengers. When checking in, check with the carrier as they make additional seats available on departure day.

Q: How do I find out what shots I need before traveling?

A: Most travel consultants have this information in their computer systems. You can also call the Center for Disease Control at 877-394-8747. The Travel Wellness Clinic, located at 416 Frandor, East Lansing, Michigan, can not only provide information on required shots and inoculations, but can provide the treatments required as well. Their telephone number is: (517)324-0860.

Q: I need a passport-quick! How do I get one?

A: Most travel agencies work with Visa Services that can obtain a passport within 48 hours based on need and documentation. The visa service charges approximately $75.00 in addition to normal passport fees, and mailing costs. This is just another valuable service offered through travel agencies.

Q: When is the cheapest time to fly?

A: It varies, however it is often less expensive to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Most low fares require an advance booking and a Saturday night stay. Fares to international destinations such as Europe, Caribbean, etc. are seasonal. Your travel consultant can advise you of the least expensive time to travel.

Q: I want to go on a cruise, will I get seasick?

A: Most cruise ships have modern stabilizers that make for a smooth ride. Other than over the counter medicine, your doctor may suggest the anti-nausea patches or wristbands. All ships have doctors on board for severe cases.

Q: When is Hurricane Season?

A: Hurricane season runs from June through October in the Caribbean and some parts of Mexico.

Q: Can children fly by themselves?

A: Children age 5 to 14 can travel alone provided they pay an unaccompanied minor fee, which is approximately $50.00 to $75.00 each way. Forms must be filled out prior to the flight-verifying people dropping off and picking up.

Q: My plans are not definite, can I hold 2 reservations?

A: No. Airline regulations prohibit holding overlapping reservations.

Q: I have a nonrefundable ticket and my trip was canceled. Do I have any options?

A: Yes you do. The ticket may be nonrefundable, but it is reusable. The airlines will charge you a fee, normally $100.00, and you can use the remainder towards a future flight on that carrier.

Q: I am going to Mexico, can I drink the water?

A: Yes and no. Almost all resorts and major restaurants provide purified or bottled water. You must be careful at small local restaurants and always wash purchased fruits and vegetables with purified water. We suggest that you pack a bottle of Pepto-Bismol just in case.

Q: Do I need an “international” driver’s license?

A: No you do not. Your own drivers license is all that is required, the international drivers license is only used as a courtesy.

Q: When do hotels offer the best rates?

A: In most major cities, rates are cheaper on the weekends. Rates during the week tend to be higher due to business traveler demand. However, in most resort hotels rates are less during the week and are higher on the weekend. Travel consultants can help you with specials and discount offers.

Q: What is an electronic ticket?

A: Electronic ticket information is stored in the airlines database, and is accessed when you check in for your flight. Your travel consultant will provide you with an itinerary and passenger receipt. Picture identification and a copy of your itinerary or passenger receipt is required at check in.

Q: Is cruising really one of the best bargains in travel?

A: Cruising can be one of the best values around. Where else can you find accommodations, gourmet meals, entertainment, exotic destinations, and superior personal service at one low price? Also, with the advance of new ships, cruise rates continue to drop.

Q: Our resort in Jamaica offers an “all-inclusive” plan. How do we decide if it is best for us?

A: The term “all-inclusive” means that your initial vacation cost includes practically everything. That means drinks, all meals, watersports, entertainment, etc. Whether it’s a good deal for you hinges on a few factors: are you going with children? Do you normally eat and drink a lot on vacations? Is the price for food and drink high or low at your destination? In the Caribbean, an all-inclusive resort is usually the best way to go. However, in Mexico with our strong dollar, it may not best suit your budget. Your travel consultant can advise you.

Q: The airlines lost my luggage. Now what do I do?

A: If your bag does not show up on the baggage carousel, go immediately to the carrier lost baggage office, usually located in the baggage claim area. File the appropriate paper work, and stay calm. Many times the bag will be on the next flight and the airline will deliver it to you. If your bags are damaged, file a claim as soon as possible. Do not wait to file a claim later. All airlines have guidelines for paying for damaged baggage.

Q: How do I survive air travel with kids?

A: Pack a carry bag with crayons, paper, toys, books, and puzzles. Pack bags of snacks, fruit and water. Most kids don’t like airplane food, but many carriers offer “kids meals” which make them feel special and they are more likely to eat. Make sure you have gum for them to help with “popping ears”.

Q: My mother is gravely ill in Florida. Do I qualify for any discounts?

A: Yes you do. Almost all airlines offer discounted fares for immediate family members of ill patients, or family members who have passed away. There are a few requirements: hospital/funeral home name and phone number, relationship, name of doctor or funeral director. These types of fares are not always the least expensive. Check with your travel consultant, as a lower discounted fare may be available to your destination.

Q: When do I qualify for senior discounts?

A: With almost all airlines, you qualify for senior discounts and promotions when you reach the age of 62. Seniors get a 10% discount off of most promotional fares, and many times can take a non-senior companion for the same rate. Also, some airlines offer “senior coupon booklets”. These 4 coupon booklets allow 4 one way trips, or 2 round trips in the domestic United States. Depending on the destinations, these booklets can offer substantial savings. With most cruise lines, hotels and tour operators, senior discounts begin at age 55.

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