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Friday, November 28, 2008

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: Part VII

As you book your tickets for the holidays this month, don't forget about those darned fees. If you are going to be traveling with gifts (which I recommend you don't do), you may need to carry extra baggage. But remember, in most cases, every additional piece of luggage is going to cost you.

Of course, all fees are not created equal. Therefore, even if the actual ticket charge is less on Airline A than Airline B, Airline A's higher baggage fees may render the cost differential meaningless.

Let's do some comparison shopping among real airlines.

American: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $100. Oversized bags are $150 each.

United: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $125. Oversized are $175.

Delta and Northwest: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $125. Oversized are $175.

Continental and US Airways: First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third is $100. Oversized are $100.

Southwest: Free for first and second bag. Third bag is $25. Oversized are $50. And the tickets are usually cheaper to boot. This is your best deal.

JetBlue: Free for first bag. Second bag is $20. Third bag is $75. Oversized are $75.
AirTran. First bag is $15. Second bag is $25. Third bag is $50. Oversized are $39.

For those prices, it really makes more sense to ship gifts ahead of time. Better yet, order on-line at sites offering free delivery anywhere in the country. That way, you can arrive at your holiday destination lighter, richer and less stressed.

Friday, November 14, 2008


The election of Barack Obama is causing a tourism boomlet in such diverse places as Indonesia, Kenya, Japan (home of a town called Obama), and the United States. In conjunction with Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism is launching a three-day presidential tour route. Details are still being finalized, but it's guaranteed the tour will take in Chicago's Hyde Park, home of the new "Western White House."

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, despite sky-high prices, hotels are almost completely sold out for the Inauguration festivities. Among the few things still available are the most undemocratic high-end packages being offered by the city's five-star hotels. But those will be going soon.

For Obamaniacs still looking for a place to stay in the DC area, there's always CraigsList. But even there, "hosts" are driving hard bargains. One owner of a one-bedroom condo in the suburbs (albeit near a Metro station) wants $1500 a night. Don't do it, readers. Meantime, the owner of a two-bedroom house in a toney DC neighborhood wants to trade a three-night stay at his house during Inauguration Week for a two-week stay at a European villa this summer. Meanwhile, a ranch owner in Wyoming is asking for a four-day Inauguration stay in DC in return for a two-week summer vacation for a family on his spread.

I'll keep you posted on what's being offered on CraigsList, and will offer other insider tips on visiting DC during the Inaugural. Stay tuned.