With travel woes at a fever pitch lately, I’m finding that it’s the perfect time to leave reality behind and revisit my most far-flung travel fantasies. Laugh if you like, but one of the things I love most about travel is the dreaming part: thinking about where I’d like to go, reading about new places, and imagining all the travel-friendly hobbies I’ll someday take on and drift around the world to do (scuba diving is my latest). So when I saw this month’s cover of Islands magazine, which touts the 2008 list of the 10 Best Islands to Live On, I was a goner.
It’s no secret that flying today often ranks somewhere between getting a root canal and slamming your finger in the car door, but a few months ago, I posted about the surprisingly excellent customer service I received—apparently apropos of nothing—on Alaska Airlines. The entire incident, in fact, served to restore my faith in current-day air travel and reminded me of how little we passengers actually need to feel understood and taken care of.
And then, of course, it was back to the usual delays and—hurrah!—a whole new host of fees.
Last week, however, I flew with Air Berlin, and was absolutely bowled over by the superior customer service, the calm and pre-emptive professionalism, and the (utterly novel!) way each passenger was treated like a human being rather than a warm body in a seat.
Lake Powell, a summertime hotspot that straddles the Utah-Arizona boarder, has lured vacationers for decades with its golden cliffs, hanging gardens and blue waters. But the lake is mostly known as a place where houseboats dock during the summer, a tradition that has been somewhat hampered by low water levels and the closing of Castle Rock Cut, a 12-mile shortcut on Lake Powell.
Yesterday Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas announced that The Cut has opened for the first time in five years because of rising water levels attributed to the heaviest winter snowpack in the past eight years, reports the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Lake levels at Lake Powell have been rising approximately one foot per day since mid-May, and the Reclamation projects lake levels to reach an expected peak of roughly 3,638 feet by July. According to the Reclamation’s most recent analysis, the Castle Rock Cut is expected to remain open indefinitely.
Photo Courtesy of ARAMARK / Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.
Bookmark this handy baggage fee chart to keep tabs on how much it will cost you to check your luggage.
American Airlines announced in May that beginning June 15, 2008, most economy-class passengers would have to pay $15 for their first piece of checked luggage. Travelers waited and hoped that no other airlines would follow, and American would be forced to drop the charge. No such luck. United Airlines and US Airways announced similar policies for tickets purchased on or after June 13 and July 9, respectively. Passengers on those airlines will have to pay $15 for a first piece of checked luggage.
At the same time US Airways announced the new $15 charge, it announced several other new charges — the most interesting of which (at least for the media) was the $2 charge for non-alcoholic beverages. JetBlue no longer gives out free headsets to watch the in-flight entertainment (the headsets now cost $1).
So how did it come to this? Though airlines have been cracking down in recent years on existing charges for overweight / oversized bags, the real frenzy on charges began when US Airways announced a $25 second-checked-bag fee, and this $25 fee quickly snowballed into an industry-wide trend. The six major airlines – American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways – all charge passengers to check a second bag; $25 on every aforementioned carrier excluding Delta, and United, which now charge $50. Several smaller carriers – Alaska Air, Air Tran, and JetBlue among them – have enacted similar policies.
Travelocity’s FAQ page is constantly updated with the details of each policy.