American to Dump Orbitz

Orbitz Might Lose American Air Flight Search

American Airlines logo

American Airlines Wants to Change Orbitz Contract

As of December 1 there will be no American Airlines flight listings on Orbitz. Why? American wants more money from Orbitz sales. Currently there is an intermediary that handles the search and booking between the two entities. American wants a direct connect so their costs are reduced. As I see it, one problem from Orbitz’ perspective is that one of the intermediaries, Travelport, owns 48% of Orbitz. Kind of double dipping, I suppose. Getting rid of the middle man would only stand to benefit American.

What will the fallout be for Orbitz if an agreement isn’t reached by December 1? As a consumer I would feel that Orbitz could no longer provide me with all possible flight options. American happens to be my airline of choice now so it would totally rule out Orbitz for me.

Who else uses Orbitz for American flight planning? Would you continue to use Orbitz if you could not search for American flights?

No More Foreign Transaction Fees on This Card

  1. British Airways Chase Visa cardWhen traveling overseas, every traveler that has been using their credit cards for purchases has been socked a foreign transaction fee at the time of billing. It usually added 3% to your spending. For some time it was a hidden fee until a lawsuit forced disclosure on your credit card statements. With the US$ being so wimpy in past years, we didn’t appreciate the extra cost. The only card that avoided it was the Capital One Visa (thank you!).

This morning I received this from my British Airways Visa people:

We want you to be among the first to hear about the end of foreign transaction fees for British Airways Visa Signature® Cardmembers. There is nothing Cardmembers need to do to enjoy this benefit. This is great news for everyone hoping to save money while travelling abroad.

Thank you British Airways/Chase! You will be our travel card from now on.

Maybe this will signal the end to this nonsense of bilking travelers at every turn. Please: banks take note. We don’t want the fees on our ATM cards either!

My Nook Was Stolen

Barnes and Noble Nook

Nook has 3G, WiFi and PDF load capability

How did Barnes and Noble respond? Very well, thank you! When I logged into my email the morning after I had traveled, there was a notification, as always, of a purchase of a book at 4:20 a.m. I can tell you I was sound asleep at that time after being awake for 24 hours of travel. Furthermore, I don’t buy books that mention “vampire” anywhere.

Next step: collect my thoughts. Where is my Nook? Couldn’t find it in my mess of dirty clothes and Italian pasta I brought home. Hmmmm. Where did I use it last? I was reading on my last flight from JFK to Ft. Lauderdale. My name is in my loaded travel documents on my Nook (PDF file download is one of my favorite functions of the Nook) so someone could return it. No way is that happening. The scumbag that stole it is clearly not an honorable person.

I called B and N. The support guy had me deactivate my default credit card, which will disable any ability to buy books, even if charged to a gift card credit. He was gracious enough to credit me with the purchase made in the middle of the night since it was a gift card credit. Here is the biggie: Barnes and Noble can deactivate a Nook. No way will the thief be able to use it. Furthermore I have the charging cord/computer USB connector. It is a small consolation to me. Read the rest of this post »

The Best Travel Insurance

There are many solid reasons to buy travel insurance – lost luggage that is poorly reimbursed by a carrier, illness that requires transportation back home, an emergency evacuation, a delay that costs you for a hotel and meals, a broken leg a week before departure, medical costs not covered by your usual insurance, or even a Nook stolen from you on the plane as happened to me! We have been able to recoup losses and expenses from our travel insurance that have convinced us to never travel abroad without it.

Years ago we started covering our travels by getting insurance because of elderly sick parents. There was no telling if we would have to fly back to attend to their needs.

Some travel insurance companies have come and gone but there are some very solid A or A+ companies that are excellent. My go-to online agent is www.insuremytrip.com. Their customer service is exemplary, their website is Read the rest of this post »

How to Find Italian Boutique Hotels

Inncasa Orvieto

The main building at Inncasa

What could be more charming than an old villa converted to a small Italian hotel? It is what we search for when traveling in Italy. Viewing all the photos online transports me to the Italian countryside. The anticipation of the wonderful places in Italy (and the food….and the people….and the sights) is sometimes half the fun.

One of the stops was in Umbria for three days and nights outside Orvieto. The InnCasa is a fabulous small hotel overlooking Orvieto. The night photos of the view are amazing and the real thing is even better. It has a spa, part of which is an indoor pool dug into the tufo rock. We reserved use of the pool for the four of us and totally relaxed. My friend Carole and I booked massages as well. By the way, they don’t seem to pander to American modesty!

How do you find places like InnCasa? I use several resources like the usual TripAdvisor. However, that can be time consuming because there is no way to establish a filter for boutique hotels. The website I like is Splendia. There is a search parameter for boutique hotels as well as luxury hotels. Use it as your starting point and then compare prices on the Web. Splendia has the most beautiful and unique hotels listed for all over the world. The site is tantalizing and great for vicarious traveling. You will find places you simply wouldn’t know exist.

Digital Photo Storage When Traveling

Digital Photo Storage

Protect your travel photos by backing up to a small portable storage device.

This issue has always been a dilemma for me. My compromise has been a large capacity compact flash card that will get me through the day, a laptop onto which I upload my photos and then a flash drive for back up. It works well but is a bit time consuming.

The flaws of my system are the bulk created by the laptop and the time spent transferring. The double back up is an absolute necessity for anyone that is really serious about their photos. It is really easy to lose a card or a flash drive. On a recent trip Windows Vista did us in by managing to complicate the process to the degree that a couple days photos were lost by my husband. It bolstered my case for the double back up. Some years ago before I was wise enough to know better, I had a power surge on a cruise ship fry my hard drive on my laptop and all the photos downloaded to that point were lost. Now I always carry a CyberPower small surge protector when I travel and back up my computer while traveling.

Read the rest of this post »

How to Fly Free Business Class

Business Class Seat

Fly in business class comfort for free

(And Other Perks of Mega Miles in Your Frequent Flyer Account)

My freebie travel guru, Frugal Travel Guy, gives me the ammo I need to rack up the miles for free trips, almost always business class. Those that amass a zillion miles on business flights and attain some kind of elite status are doing it the easy way and I have miles envy. Finding other methods to get my miles is like looking for the yellow brick road with no Google mapping. Scrounging for miles is a part time job. My friends think I am crazy. I think they are lazy. Miles in the bank for me are the same as a Ferrari in the garage to some. It is my ticket to my free business class travel habit. Who wants to fly for 8-15 hours in the back of the bus? I prefer a flat bed with a comforter to a 19” wide seat and 18 degree recline with a two year old kicking my back.

Here is what I have accomplished in the last 5 months:

  • 25,000 Continental miles – Chase Bank checking account with debit card
  • 25,000 Continental miles – Chase Bank business checking account with debit card
  • 6,239 Continental miles – Chase Bank checking from spending and bonuses
  • 100,000 British Airways miles – British Airways Chase Visa sign up and $2K spending
  • 30,000 miles – United Business Visa sign up
  • 14,479 United miles – United Business Visa spending and bonuses
  • 17,000 American miles – Citibank Savings account
  • 30,000 American miles – American Airlines Citibank card sign up
  • 11,323 American miles – American Airlines Citibank spending and bonuses
  • 15,000 Delta miles – SunTrust checking and debit card
  • 15,000 Delta miles – SunTrust business checking and debit card
  • TOTAL 289,041 miles

There are tricks to accomplishing all this. Read the rest of this post »

Traveling with Food Allergies or Intolerances

gluten free

No Gluten for Me Please

dairy free

No Dairy Products for Me Please

Sneaking up like an atomic bomb, my newly identified gluten and casein (milk protein) intolerance places me in the cautious traveler category. Eating in a restaurant has become a difficult proposition. Watching me eat a fast food hamburger without a bun brings up memories of a year old kid eating baby food. Oh yes, the ketchup, mustard and mayo are all over my face, hands and sometimes clothes.

How to avoid getting sick because of your food allergies or intolerances? In the year of dealing with a serious issue, I have learned a few solutions. Read the rest of this post »

Travel Insurance Coverage for Luggage

airline damaged baggage

Oops - not what you want to see on the carousel. My bag wasn't quite this bad!

Lost or Damaged Luggage – Who Pays?

It was such a great purchase, an absolutely beautiful retro-designed suitcase covered in tweed fabric with a leather belt around it. There were 9 flights ahead of me and a lot of checking in and out over a month long trip. I was confident that this was the ultimate spinner. Four wheels meant no sore back or dragging that case behind me. It packed so well, or maybe I am the whiz packer, that I had almost ½ of it empty. I loved that suitcase. Note the past tense.

When it circled around on the baggage carousel after the first two flights, it was clear that my wonderful new suitcase had been abused. Badly. Not only was the fabric marred with black grease on all sides, the zipper was split in one place (thank goodness for that belt), and the fabric was torn on the edges. It turned out to be a complete waste of time to file a report. The second airline blamed the first airline and nothing was going anywhere. Luckily nothing inside the case was missing or damaged so the claim was limited to the brand new case itself.

Luggage damage, loss or theft of items within is not a slam dunk claim. Upon my return to the US, I debated how to claim the loss. I had several options. I could forge forth trying to claim it with the first airline since it was documented by its partner overseas. My travel insurance company would no doubt handle it.

Here is what you need to know. Read the rest of this post »

The Nook as a Multi-Task Travel Companion

The Nook is only 12 ounces and 1/2 inch thick - perfect for travel.

The Nook is only 12 ounces and 1/2 inch thick - perfect for travel.

Being able to consolidate some of my packing into smaller devices is incredibly helpful in dealing with weight limits and sheer bulk when traveling. It was one of the reasons that I was excited about my new Nook. It turns out there are many more reasons that the Nook is a great travel device.

While planning a trip, I establish many files including one for each hotel/car/air/cruise reservation. I also have a file for each destination that gives information on walking tours, restaurants, sights and anything else of interest. Now I can load all these documents on my Nook and carry it with me as my one source for everything. I foresee it being useful in cities as we take a walking tour or scope the territory for a restaurant. The Nook will easily fit in my backpack, my Scottevest or in a handbag. I will be able to leave my travel guides at home.

The Nook isn’t compatible with Word docs so I convert them to PDF files easily and then load them on my Nook. Go to Microsoft.com and download “Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF.” After you download the add-in, open your file, click Save As and then click PDF. Follow the instructions on the Nook website for side loading the PDF file to your Nook and you will be ready to travel.

With the Nook’s capability to increase storage with a microSD card, I can use my Nook’s as my travel MP3 player. The Nook is a multi-tasker: you can read your books or use your files while listening to your music.

I am amazed at how little battery drain there is with the Nook. A very long flight – no problem. Often my Nook only needs recharging every couple of weeks. If you are traveling with a laptop, you can charge your Nook via the USB cable. If you want to plug it in, attach the wall plug to the USB cable and plug it in. Don’t forget if you are traveling internationally to take a converter and transformer.

Load your ebooks before you go, download your music on your microSD card and install it in your Nook and side load your documents on your Nook. Now you have a great travel device!