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NEED TO KNOW

Direct flights to Cuba now offered from LAX

July 05, 2009|Jane Engle; Catharine Hamm; Judi Dash; Susan James

Nonstop to Cuba? ?Si! A Long Beach company called Cuba Travel Services last week began weekly nonstop flights between Havana and LAX on Tuesdays. Flight time on the chartered Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800, which can carry 150 passengers, is less than 5 1/2 hours. Round-trip adult fares start at $689 plus tax. Because of U.S. restrictions on travel to the communist-ruled country, most customers are expected to be Cuban Americans who have family there. For rules on visiting Cuba, check its profile under "Country Specific Information" on the State Department's travel website, www.travel.state.gov. To book flights, contact Cuba Travel Services, www.cubatravelservices.com, (800) 963-2822, or a travel agency authorized to sell trips to Cuba. (You cannot buy tickets online, the company said.)

-- Jane Engle

Baggage and other fees frustrate us, and pricey tickets make us petulant. In fact, the flying public is so annoyed that satisfaction with airlines has fallen for the third year in a row, hitting a four-year nadir, a survey finds. Blame it on the economy. "Twenty-nine percent of overall satisfaction is driven by pricing and costing," said Paula Sonkin, vice president for travel and real estate industries for J.D. Power and Associates, the company in Westlake Village that released the report last week. "Given the economy . . . it's not surprising that satisfaction went down again." But there are bright spots. Based on a 1,000-point scale, among traditional carriers, Alaska was the flier favorite, scoring 671, followed by Continental. JetBlue continued to be the low-cost darling, with Southwest and WestJet close behind.

Next stop, Havana

Unhappy fliers

-- Catharine Hamm

It's in the bag

Most nylon garment sleeves are sized for suits. They are not user-friendly for dresses or gowns, which are likely to wrinkle when folded to fit. Happily, Clemco WallyBags' zippered garment sleeves come in lengths up to 62 inches, ideal for long gowns. Most of the featherweight sleeves come with built-in "locks" that secure hangers of any style to the top of the bag, keeping clothes from sliding to the bottom of the bag. Clemco WallyBags' 60-inch gown-length garment sleeve is $44.95; 40-inch suit length, $37.50. Info: (800) 233-4545 or www.wallybags.com

-- Judi Dash

Darwin days

Not only is Cambridge University celebrating its 800th anniversary this summer, but it is also honoring the 200th birthday of one of its most illustrious alumni, Charles Darwin. Cambridge colleges, libraries, museums and gardens hold the world's largest collection of all things Darwinian, most of them on display throughout the year. Walking tours, exhibitions, art and music programs, and lecture series inspired by Darwin's work are being planned. On Tuesday, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences opens an exhibition on Darwin. Darwin's impact on the arts is a large part of the Cambridge celebration.Info: www.darwin2009.cam.ac.uk.

-- Susan James

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