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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS : Tip to Infrequent Flier

November 18, 1990|ERIC FRIEDHEIM

Question: Although I don't travel frequently, does it make sense to join an airline frequent-flier program?

Answer: Even if you never earn enough mileage to collect an award, signing up generally will put you on the airline's mailing list for special offers that are extended to program members, but not always to the general public. These offers include travel, cruise, hotel and car-rental discounts.

Q: I've noticed more and more hotels are offering concierge or executive-level floors. What is the difference between these and the rest of the hotel, and how do the prices compare?

A: Many concierge and executive floors have separate check-in areas, plus private lounges and meeting facilities. While room size may not be different, these rooms typically have the latest amenities, with some including a complimentary continental breakfast, newspapers and sometimes a cocktail hour. Expect to pay between $20 and $80 extra per night.

Q: One day the airlines add fuel surcharges, reasoning the price of jet fuel has gone up. The next day I see they are cutting fares. What's going on?

A: The fare cut you're speaking of was mainly limited to European destinations for the winter months, when vacation travel slows down and the airlines try to lure extra business by lowering prices. However, as the price of jet fuel rises substantially, fuel surcharges also apply to these fares.

Q: Will there be a charge if I cancel a hotel reservation that is guaranteed by credit card before 6 p.m. the day I'm due?

A: Hotels have varying cancellation policies that may require cancellation notice anywhere from 24 hours to seven days to avoid a charge for the room. Also, it is advisable to cancel directly with the hotel rather than a national 800 number. Get a cancellation confirmation number.

Q: With costs high in Europe, where's the best place to change dollars into local currency?

A: Change most of your dollars in Europe, but remember that hotels generally give less favorable rates than banks. Traveler's checks can bring a better rate because less paperwork is involved. Also check local currency brokers who often are competitive.

Q: When is the Mozart Festival in New York City and what's taking place?

A: Some 500 events are scheduled at the city's Lincoln Center, from Jan. 27, 1991, to Aug. 29, 1992, from opera to films to chamber music. During the festival, the complete works of Mozart will be performed.

Q: We're traveling to Western Europe. Is a health insurance policy advisable?

A: If your current policy doesn't cover accidents or illness abroad, such protection is always advisable. Emergency medical treatment or air evacuation can be costly. Consult your insurance broker or travel agent.

Q: Are Soviet cruise ships still banned from American ports? If not, is there a likelihood of their resuming soon?

A: The Soviets are interested in entering the cruise trade in the United States in the near future and are discussing deals that will add several new vessels to their fleet.

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