Double trouble

Kristine Lopez wanted to buy tickets from Philadelphia to Tampa, Fla. But when she clicked the “submit” button to book a seat on the US Airways Web site, nothing happened. No receipt, no confirmation e-mail. So she logged on a few hours later and bought more tickets. This time, her purchase went through. But her credit-card bill tells a different story. The airline actually charged her twice – once for the tickets she believed she hadn’t bought, and another time for the ones she did. Now Lopez wants her money back for one set. US Airways won’t do it, citing its “no refunds” policy. Is she out of luck?

Another Norwalk outbreak

A hotel may re-open tomorrow after it was closed by an outbreak of the Norwalk virus. The Grand Hotel in Scarborough, which has been hit by similar outbreaks in the past, closed on Monday afternoon and guests were moved out to enable intensive disinfection to be carried out. Ten guests had been taken ill with the norovirus, an airborne infection that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. No guests were admitted to hospital and none of the Grand’s staff was affected. The management took the decision to close the 460-room hotel in consultation with North Yorkshire Health Protection Unit, Scarborough, Whitby & Ryedale Primary Care Trust and Scarborough Council’s environmental health team.

Keeping the faith

One of the great privileges of flying is observing and respecting the various cultures that come your way. On the airplane you might notice a man with a black top hat, long curls extending from his sideburns, and a fairly long beard. Nine times out of ten, he is Jewish, or more specifically, a Hasidic Jew. I was scheduled to work on a flight to Munich one September evening when I got pulled off, and rescheduled for a Tel Aviv flight. A Jewish group had requested a male flight attendant, and on that particular flight there were none.

Air and space

About a year ago, the new annex of the National Air and Space Museum opened next to Dulles Airport in Virginia. This spacious museum, for the first time, allowed the Smithsonian Institution to display many of the aircraft that had been held in storage. Here you will find the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay,” that dropped the atom bomb on Japan and the once super-secret SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. To go over the entire display or speak in generalities has been done by many, but what we, reading these web pages, are most involved with on a day-to-day, week-to-week and year-to-year basis, is commercial aviation. The museum’s collection of the aircraft that shaped the world in which we travel is dramatic.

Grounded without a refund

Colleen Wiles is looking forward to meeting her newborn grandson for Christmas. But because of a medical condition, the infant can’t fly without oxygen. His airline won’t let the family travel without a doctor’s note, and the pediatrician won’t write a note without oxygen. Now Hotwire won’t offer Wiles’ son his money back, citing its strict no-refunds rule. Is the family out of luck? And how could they have prevented this Catch-22 from happening?

A guy’s gotta travel

Several American tour companies have sprung up catering to women-only travel. Japan’s railways operate trains with women-only cars and may add women-only trains. Skymark Airlines designates women-only seats on some of its flights. A hotel in Zurich accommodates only women. And the trend seems to be growing. Some people may see this as clear cases of discrimination – especially guys who see travel as an opportunity to hit on women. After all, if they are denied access to eligible babes, who are they to impress with their bellies pooching out of their muscle shirts and their displays of gold chains?

Bush 2 travel questions

How will a second Bush administration affect the travel industry? We have just finished with a fascinating presidential election. The focus was on terrorism, the war in Iraq and the economy. Virtually nothing was said about the travel industry. Surely, it will be affected by another George W. Bush term.

Deplane truth

Are you frustrated by the boarding and deplaning torture the airlines put you through? The airlines are trying to cut costs while trying to be your carrier of choice. I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s when the airlines spend a bundle of money only to piss off their passengers that I have to step in and say something.

A bogus bereavement fare

When Hank Greenberg’s sister dies and he must fly to Pittsburgh for the funeral, he’s offered an expensive “bereavement” fare through the major airlines. Travelocity’s price is half that – or so he thinks. After he tries to buy the ticket, the cost just keeps going up. Is Travelocity to blame for the rising fare? Is he? And what’s the deal on airline bereavement discounts, anyway?

Soup of the day

Ever wonder about karma and air travel? Once in a while a nasty passenger comes along that gets what he deserves. There is a line between inconvenienced and downright rude. The following is a perfect example. He boarded the aircraft with a growl and a snicker. “I hope your airline goes under and everybody suffers in the unemployment line. It’s just another day with this nickel-and-dime operation.”