The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Friday, February 23, 2007

Know Your Air Travel Rights

To the reader that asked what are my rights if the airline bumps me from my flight?

First off let’s define the term bumping. This is name given to the procedure for declining to board a reserved seat passenger on an overbooked flight. This occurs when a passenger is unable to travel because other passengers have been given higher priority to travel. The term is used largely with respect to airline travel and an overbooking situation.

The airlines publish a boarding priority list and this should be available for you to examine at the airport. Remember the airline personnel will not readily volunteer this information. You will have to ask for it, and unfortunately sometimes more than once. If you feel that the customer service agent is giving you the run around ask for a supervisor. Once you invoke this request airline issues are generally rapidly addressed.

Now let’s talk more on what happens if the airline declines to board (bumps) you. The Department of Transportation requires each airline to give all involuntarily bumped passengers a written statement of their rights along with an explanation of the carrier’s policy on overbooked flights. Bumped passengers may be entitled to an on-the-spot payment of denied boarding compensation based on the price of their ticket and the length of the delay. However, the airline may give no compensation if it arranges a substitute flight which arrives within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time. This substituted air travel can be on the one that you are ticketed on or any other carrier that services your destination. If there is any difference in the fare that you paid and the one on the substitute transportation, the bumping airline absorbs the cost not you the traveler. The airlines are not excited about paying for alternative flights so airport service personnel are trained only to offer this type of solution in extreme instances. By knowing your rights and ASKING for them will often solve your service situation.

If the domestic airline arranged flight is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time, or on international flights one and four hours, the compensation may be up to a $200.

The material already discussed involves involuntary bumping, the situation when the airline will not allow you board the aircraft. Another category you may experience is termed” voluntary” bumping. This procedure occurs when the flight is oversold and the airline is looking for volunteers to give up their seats on their scheduled flights and be re-accommodated on other flights. Not only will you be offered a substitute flight schedule but frequently the carriers will offer you free flights, monetary value travel coupons, meal vouchers even lodging. On one trip I volunteered to get bumped and had my vacation extended by one day. The carrier flew me in first class the next day, picked up the tab for my meals and hotel plus gave me a $500.00 voucher good for travel on them within the next. Not a bad deal from my window seat! If you find yourself in a similar situation I suggest opting for the cash value instead of the free ticket. The free ticket often comes with too many restrictions and can basically be unredeemable. I’ve seen a free ticket for a voluntarily bumped passenger come with requirements that you can only book your flight 3 days before you travel and in a very restrictive fare category while the cash voucher can be applied to the value of any ticket purchased. And if you have any remaining balance on your cash amount then the carrier will issue you another credit voucher.

Ok the moral here is know your travel rights and do not be afraid to speak up and ask that they be respected. I’ll talk more about your rights as a traveler in the future or you may be interested in enrolling in a “travel law” course that we are offering this spring at Ohio University Southern.

Friday, February 16, 2007

More on cruise vacation misperceptions

“Cruise vacations cost too much!” Actually a cruise is often bargain when compared to land based vacations. Tally up what you really spent on one of the Tri-State’s favorite vacation spots-your trip to the Beach. Add cost of rooms, food, beverages, shows, all of your expenses and you’d be surprised at the total cost of this vacation. Then look at what’s included in your cruise fare-lodging, food, entertainment, transportation ports of call plus much much more. Use some simple arithmetic and I believe that when you look at total expenditures of your land vacation compared to a cruise you’ll agree that the cruise vacation is not more expensive but actually might be a better buy. There are many other advantages to cruising but I’ll let your travel agent share these with you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

To Cruise or Not to Cruise, this tis the question!

When it comes to cruise vacations and why people have not sailed I’ve heard all the misperceptions. They all begin: “I’m afraid to cruise because….” Well maybe the travel professor can help address some of these common objections to vacationing at sea. Perhaps I’ll help change your perspective and you to will soon join the ranks of us who have experienced the delight of cruising.

The savvy traveler responds: “Cruise vacations are just for retirees. At one time this was very true; cruising was a small section of the population. However today cruise product is is no longer just for the wealthy or retired set. It is designed to meet the needs and demands of the mass market, can I say Carnival Cruise Lines or the smaller niche markets like inland river cruising. Here in the Tri-State we are ports of call for companies like the Delta Steamship or River Barge Cruises. On board ships you will discover people from all age groups and walks of life. As the prices of cruise vacations have dropped over the years cruising has become a realistic option for couples, families, school groups, even businesses. How about holding your next business meeting at sea? Cruise lines have developed their product to meet the needs of specific markets-Disney Cruise Lines attempts to capture the family and theme park crowd while Carnival Cruise Line pursues the fun crowd. Humans have different personalities and so do the cruise lines. Cruise firms position their products to meet the specific needs of their targeted market group. Match up your vacation personality with the appropriate cruise and chances are excellent that you’ll have a splendid vacation.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

It's Wave Season!

It’s Wave Season! This is the busiest booking period for the cruise industry and they pass along many special discounts and upgrades during this window. Commencing in January and extending through March, many travelers can take advantage of attractive cruise fares and be pretty well ensured that their first choice of ships and itineraries will be available.

“Each year, travelers are booking cruises further and further in advance of their sailing date – and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) travel agencies report that guests are already booking 2008 cruises,” said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA, the chief marketing organization for 21 premier cruise lines and 16,500 North American travel agencies. “For instance, reserving staterooms for Europe and Alaska itineraries during Wave Season is especially important since these destinations are experiencing strong demand.”

Cruise lines are kicking off this year’s Wave Season with upgrades from standard staterooms to balcony accommodations, “kids sail free” programs, early booking savings, airfare upgrades from Economy to Business Class, shipboard credits, cruise giveaways and much, much more.

Don’t miss the boat! Contact your favorite local cruise travel consultant. If you’ve never worked with a local agent I will talk about locating a good one in my next entry.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Give the gift of travel

You've given clothing, flowers, jewelry, linens, chocolates, cards and everything in between for Valentines Day...and you're still looking for that special gift for your special sweetie. Why not give the exciting gift of travel?

Purchase a gift certificate and you can spend quality time with that special someone planning your romantic getaway! Stop by or call your local travel agent today and they will take care of your Valentine Day concerns.

To the person wanting to know when’s the best time to buy an airline ticket:

The Travel Professor feels that we all have a price range that we would be willing to pay for the ticket. For example I believe that a ticket from Columbus OH to Los Angeles CA should be somewhere in the $250.00-$300.00 range. If I wanting to travel out west then when the prices falls into this range I'll buy the ticket. So when the air fare fits into your price range I suggest that you make a reservation and purchase the ticket.

To help me track and shop for airline price changes I use the “fare watcher” function on This feature allows me to track prices for up to 5 cities and receive email notifications when the prices fall into my pricing range.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Americans flock in record numbers to Europe in 2006

Even though the value of the American dollar continues to drop, Americans are flocking to Europe in record numbers. European tourism has reached another historic milestone, according to Conrad Van Tiggelen, chairman of the European Travel Commission. Preliminary figures for 2006 indicate that U.S. visitors will exceed the record of 13.12 million set in 2000. At 6.81 million Americans, the peak period from May to September was also the highest recorded since the ETC was created in 1948. But Europe plans an even better year for 2007, with new attractions and new routes of discovery. For more information on planning a trip over the pond, visit This web site, a collaboration of 34 diverse and interesting European nations, is a must visit for all travelers considering a journey to the old country.

A reminder too-a passport is required for travel to Europe and a few destinations still require a visa. Check out the entry requirements with your travel agent, tour operator or air carrier.