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Irked by a Fee on a Low-Fare Ticket

April 06, 1986|ERIC FRIEDHEIM | Friedheim is editor/publisher of Travel Agent magazine.

Question: My travel agent asked for a service charge for selling me a $30 airline ticket. Is that legal?

Answer: Yes. Some agencies may impose such fees because the cost of handling low-fare tickets is greater than their commission.

Q: Will an airline pay for overnight hotel accommodations and meals in certain cases?

A: Some airlines will provide such facilities to passengers making connections at an intermediate international point when there is no flight until the next day. However, those traveling on low-cost excursions may be on their own. Check with your agent or carrier.

Q: I've heard that you can take cruises in the Bahamas aboard mail boats. Where do they sail from?

A: Mail boats plying between Nassau and nearby islands take passengers. The average trip is four to five hours and costs about $10. Check with the tourist information office in Nassau for schedules.

Q: Having read about AIDS cases and Haiti, is this disease springing up elsewhere in the Caribbean?

A: According to the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. federal health agency that monitors contagious ailments worldwide, there is no significant number of AIDS cases reported from other West Indies islands.

Q: Will I lose my deposit if I have to cancel my cruise reservation before departure?

A: Usually not, if you cancel at least 30 days before sailing. Ask your agent to be specific on this.

Q: We'd like to go to Europe on a group tour but don't want to participate in all the organized sightseeing and other activities. Don't tour operators offer a reduced price in such circumstances?

A: Package tour prices are based on special rates obtained by the tour company from hotels, sightseeing firms and other suppliers, who expect a specified number of tour participants. Though you can forgo any activities, the operator usually must pay for them, which means you can't expect any rebates. See your agent for alternatives to fit your special requirements.

Q: I plan a cross-country trip using hostels. What will be my average daily expense for accommodations?

A: Average maximum summer rates for bed space range from about $4 to $7 per person a day, although some facilities may charge less. For details contact American Youth Hostels, 1502 Palos Verdes Drive N., Harbor City, Calif. 90710, phone (213) 831-8846.

Q: We're driving to Virginia and other states in the East and enjoy visiting restored harbor sites. Where are some?

A: Alexandria, Va., has museums, shops and restored Colonial houses. Norfolk, Va., has Waterside, a tourist mecca of bazaars, shops, theaters, and a river tour boat offering daytime and evening cruises. The restored Baltimore harbor and New York's South Street Seaport also are worth visiting.

Q: On our Hawaiian visit we'd like to see the Polynesian Cultural Center. Does it have regular programs for tourists?

A: The center near Honolulu is one of the islands' major attractions and features daily entertainment and pageantry against a backdrop of seven re-created Polynesian village scenes.

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