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Travel letters: A fascinating underwater trip

Plus, kudos to Amtrak employee; more on frequent-flier miles; and another alternative to packing travel books.

March 17, 2013

A fascinating underwater trip

I would like to compliment Nancy Baron for her incredible, gutsy and courageous underwater trip ["Blue Magic," March 10], which fascinated me. (I'm a former Italian navy frogman.) In her description of the underwater exploration, she made it look like an easy hobby. Scuba diving is very difficult and requires hard training and a very healthy body.

John Rosati

Simi Valley

Kudos to Amtrak

My husband, 10-year-old granddaughter Alyssa and I returned home Feb. 26 from a trip to the Bay Area on Amtrak Train No. 1. On Friday of that week, my daughter Chris received a call from her children's school in Ventura. Amtrak had called from Portland, Ore., trying to locate the owner of a wallet. My granddaughter's wallet had been found on a northbound train and left in Portland, her $5, gift cards and student ID intact.

The employee, Tom Lynch, found her school identification card and Googled its name. He started calling the long list of schools and on the second or third call, found Alyssa's school. The school in turn gave my daughter his number. She called, spoke to Tom and the wallet was packaged and put on Saturday's southbound train.

Chris and Alyssa picked up the package Sunday night when the train stopped in Oxnard. Tom is an exemplary employee, and we thank him and the good Samaritan who found the wallet and turned it in.

Charlie and Betty Ancewicz

Granada Hills

Frequent-flier issues

Brian Kelly makes some good points in his piece ["Going the Distance to Get Airline Awards," March 3] about using miles for airline awards, but his closeness to this questionable "industry" (as operator of ThePointsGuy.com) blinds him to some very real issues.

First, taxes and fees can eat up a lot of one's savings using points. I needed 70,000 British Airways Avios points to send my son from LAX to Taiwan and back for his senior year. I had to buy 10,000 points to get there ($210), then pay more than $400 in taxes that the airline charged on the ticket. The flight would have cost $1,200, so our savings was only about $600.

Second, just try to find an advertised 25,000-mile round-trip frequent-flier economy ticket from L.A. to the East Coast. Usually, you'll have to pony up 40,000 or even 50,000 miles, or if you're lucky, enjoy a nine-hour trip with a layover in some intermediate city.

Third, the consolidation of airlines and continued cutting of flights makes frequent-flier miles worth ever less and harder to redeem.

He is correct about both "doing the math" and that credit-card miles are "frequent spender awards." To get enough points for a single 40,000-point East Coast trip on American Airlines, you'll need to put about $40,000 worth of spending on that credit card.

When my friend boasted he had accumulated 1 million AA miles, I congratulated him for spending a million dollars.

Michael Goldstein

Encino

Travel book option

In the interesting compilation of helpful travel hints ("Before You Go," Feb. 17), one caught my eye that I would like to expand upon. One contributor suggested leaving your travel books at home because of the weight, and I agree with that, but not all of us carry our own e-readers or tablets to use as a lighter-weight substitute.

I would suggest, for the nonhigh-tech crowd, that they tear pages out of the travel books that pertain to the places they are visiting, sort them into the order of visitation, staple them together by location and pack them. My experience has been that you leave home with 95% less weight and space and have the info in very handy packets.

Paul Dorr

Manhattan Beach

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