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With flight connections, timing is everything

October 20, 2013

Timing is everything

In regard to connection times ("Failing to Make the Connection," by Catharine Hamm, On the Spot, Oct. 13), we recently took a round trip on British Airways from LAX to Copenhagen. We chose a connection time of four hours each way just to be safe; the recommended time is two hours. British Airways means you go to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Coming in, we barely made our connection to Copenhagen because everyone gets re-screened and the line was enormous.

Coming home, we left Copenhagen before noon and easily made the re-screening time and had a leisurely lunch before boarding the flight home. Knowing the process made the return flight much better. A tip: When the personnel tell you to go to another line for screening, pay attention. The lines farther from the top of the escalator are often shorter.

Diane and Larry Thompson


Policies vary

I have had a good trip-insurance experience that I wanted to share. I decided to do the ultimate travel splurge: the National Geographic Round the World by Private Plane tour. The cost, including the single supplement and airfare to and from the point of departure, is $77,000. NatGeo offers a policy for $10,000; it provides evacuation coverage, and I already have medical coverage so I needed only cancellation coverage and decided to explore the world of independent insurance. lets you view dozens of policies, but my trip was above the maximum insurable limit on most, so I called. They knew immediately the trip I was taking and said I needed to speak to Steve Dasseos, the president who handles the big trips. He offered me a policy that met my needs for about $3,000. I asked whether I could buy "amounts" and not necessarily the whole trip, and he said yes. I took a middle road and have insured $40,000 of my trip for about $1,600. So I have insured some of my risk but saved about $8,400 in order to insure my needs. I am very comfortable with this compromise. It is a Travel Guard policy.

Then I asked about annual plans. I may take a couple of escorted group tours and private trips a year. I am getting older, and it would be smart to have some insurance. Instead of buying insurance from the airlines for each of the plane trips and separate policies for the group tours (not horrendously expensive, but still it adds up) I can get an annual policy for about $458 that provides $5,000 year for all my trips. This will give me some reassurance and yet be reasonable.

Joan Lutz

Newport Beach


I would like to endorse the call for a congressional hearing to change the way travel insurance is marketed. We foolishly bought travel insurance for a trip to Ireland in May. The insurance was marketed to cover discontinuance of trip because of illness.

A week before our departure, I developed severe shoulder pain and visited the ER. Tests revealed nothing, nor did my family doctor find anything a few days later. We left for Ireland and joined our tour group, but the pain returned, this time in my neck and more intense. My wife, who is a physician, said we had to cut our trip short and return home, which we did.

An MRI showed I had a bacterial infection in my neck and was subsequently diagnosed with bacteremia, discitis and endocarditis. I spent six nights in the critical care unit and five weeks on IV penicillin. Three weeks ago I had open-heart surgery to replace two valves and part of my aorta damaged by the endocarditis.

Efforts to collect for our losses were refused. The insurance policy's fine print says you must have a letter from a local doctor. If I had known about the requirement for a local doctor's letter ordering me to return home and sought medical help in Ireland, would I be alive today? It took three American doctors (family medicine, physical medical and infectious disease) and an MRI to make the diagnosis. What is the likelihood the diagnosis would be made in Ireland and what would it have cost? Would the insurance company have paid for any of it?

I abhor more federal regulations, but the travel industry is out of control and needs more up-front truth in marketing.

David Johnson


Space camp

Fascinating read on space camps ["Walking on Cloud 9," by Jane Engle, Oct. 6]. For $549, the multiple fascinating experiences at the Adult Space Academy beat the potential risks and high pricing of the proposed spaceflights now in the pipeline.

Roger Renstrom

La Jolla

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