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NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS | TRAVEL LOG

August 31, 2003|Jane Engle

Big airlines relax rules to rebook

It's becoming easier to rebook nonrefundable tickets -- the usually lower-priced fares that leisure travelers favor -- now that several major airlines have followed American's lead in loosening the rules.

On American, Continental, Delta and United, you have up to a year to rebook and apply the fare of an unused nonrefundable ticket to a new ticket, less change fees and fare differences. You must cancel your original reservation before the scheduled departure time (American, Continental and Delta) or date (United).

Previously customers had to rebook before their original departure or lose the ticket's value.

Northwest went further, eliminating the requirement that customers notify it in advance to cancel. Northwest said it was giving customers "freedom and flexibility." This essentially returned it to the policy that most majors had in early 2002, before they tightened the rules. (America West retained the older, liberal policy.)

US Airways, the first to act in the 2002 crackdown, had not changed its policy as of the Travel section's deadline Tuesday. US Airways customers with nonrefundable tickets who notify the airline by midnight on the original date of travel can stand by for a flight on the same day for $25 or rebook for a future date for a $100 change fee. Rebookings must be made that day.

The majors' tightening of the rules drove business to Southwest Airlines, which lets customers with nonrefundable tickets reapply their value for up to a year, even if they just fail to show up for the flight instead of canceling, said Terry Trippler, air consumer advocate for www.cheapseats.com.

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Walk delves into

slave history of

Washington, D.C.

A new tour that focuses on the history of slavery in the fashionable Georgetown area of Washington, D.C., is being offered on two Saturdays this fall.

The "Underground Railroad in Georgetown" tour focuses on an 1848 incident in which 77 slaves tried to escape to freedom from the Washington, D.C., area aboard the Pearl schooner, only to be thwarted by a squall and captured by a posse, said Mary Kay Ricks, who runs Tour DC Walking Tours.

Among the slaves on the schooner were Mary and Emily Edmonson, who later attended Oberlin College in Ohio and became activists in the abolitionist movement.

Stops on the two-hour tour include the house of Francis Dodge Jr., who had three slaves aboard the Pearl and owned the steamboat that pursued it, and the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, founded in 1816 as the first African American church in D.C.

The tour will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 11. The cost is $12 per person. Reservations are advised. (301) 588-8999, www.tourdc.com.

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Ritz-Carlton pulls ahead in

survey of hotels

After two years in second place, Ritz-Carlton leapfrogged ahead of Four Seasons in J.D. Power & Associates' 2003 annual study of guest satisfaction, based on a survey of 12,850 North Americans who stayed in a hotel between January and June.

Among the top-ranked chains were Ritz-Carlton in the luxury category, Embassy Suites in the upscale group and Microtel Inns & Suites in the economy/budget group.

Ritz-Carlton CEO Simon Cooper said he hoped the ranking would put to rest concerns that his chain's rapid expansion -- 18 new hotels in 24 months -- would cause service to slip.

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New pass covers

island-hopping

off Canada

Vacationers who plan to do a lot of island-hopping off the coast of British Columbia may save with the new SailPass from BC Ferries.

The pass, about $108, is good for seven days and covers travel for up to two adults, children younger than 12 and a standard-size vehicle. (SUVs are extra. Reserved car spaces cost about $12 extra.)

You must buy it at least five business days before the first travel date and use it by Sept. 30.

The pass covers mainly the Southern and Northern Gulf Islands, plus some other routes. You may need to travel to at least three islands to break even, depending on the size of your party and the route.

For details, call (250) 386-3431 or visit www.bcferries.com.

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DEAL OF THE WEEK

Tour Turkey for

$122 per day

An 11-day escorted tour of Turkey is available for prices starting at $1,219 per person, double occupancy from Crown Travel, based in Naugatuck, Conn.

The price includes round-trip airfare on Lufthansa or United airlines from LAX or San Francisco, 11 nights' lodging, daily buffet breakfast, nine dinners, one lunch and motor-coach touring with guide. Airport taxes, about $120, are extra. Hotel upgrades are available at additional charge. The price is good for departures Nov. 1 through March 27, subject to availability. (800) 853-6453 (information and bookings), www.crown-travel.com (information only).

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FREE FOR THE ASKING

Guide to growers

on the Big Island

Map guides that tell where to find sellers and producers of coffee, macadamia nuts, flowers and other crops on Hawaii's Big Island are available from the Hawaiian Island Economic Development Board. "Orchard Crops" and "Flowers" are among the "Agricultural Tourism" titles. (808) 966-5416. Similar information can be found by visiting www.hawaiiagtourism.com.

-- Compiled by

Jane Engle

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