Children's passport changes
Passport rules for minors have been tightened. Children younger than 14 must now appear in person when applying for passports. Previously, only those ages 14 to 18 had to appear.
The U.S. State Department said it made the Feb. 2 change "to enhance accurate identification of applicants and aid in the prevention of international child abduction and trafficking."
Passports for children younger than 16 cost $70; those 16 or older pay $85. For more information, call (877) 487-2778 or visit travel.state.gov.
You can finally get a jump on those boarding lines at Southwest Airlines.
Customers with e-tickets, access to the Internet and a printer can check in and print out their own boarding passes starting at 12:01 a.m. local time on the day of travel.
Be advised, though, that if you're checking luggage, you'll still have to visit a skycap or the ticket counter before going through security.
For details, visit www.southwest.com.
Are passengers getting better treatment from the airlines? Or do they just expect less in this era when no-frills service seems to rule?
Whatever the reason, complaints about airline service dropped last year to their lowest level in more than 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In its report this month, the DOT said it logged 5,980 complaints in 2003, versus 9,466 in 2002.
There were fewer gripes in all categories, from flight and baggage delays to fares.
Among major airlines, Southwest had the lowest rate of total complaints; Northwest and Continental tied for last place.
Mule trips at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will resume March 23 to Plateau Point and May 1 to Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor.
The trips were suspended in September to permit maintenance work on the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails.
Hikers, however, have continued to have access.
The concessionaire, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, will begin accepting reservations for mule trips March 3.
The cost is $132.88 per person to Plateau Point with lunch and $360.54 to Phantom Ranch, which includes an overnight stay and meals.
For reservations, call (888) 297-2757; for information, visit www.grandcanyonlodges.com.