Wi-Fi on Airplanes

Too good to be true? No. It’s here already.

JetBlue is equipping wi-fi to allow travellers to send e-mail and text messages on its fleet this year. American, United, Delta, United and Virgin are following over the next two years as the demand is steadily increasing. Alaska and Southwest airlines are in the testing phase.

Why travel in these economic times?

Many reasons.

Less crowded. Warren Buffett was known for saying, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Planes are roomy, rooms are easily available, sites are less uncrowded. Have your destination all to yourself. Half-priced fees are abundant.

Best yet, the dollar buys a lot these days. Not too long ago, for instance, the pound was trouncing our dollar. Not anymore. Many countries have weak currencies in these economic times. More bang for your buck.

And finally, in time of high stress, invest in yourself. Traveling is the best way of escaping our problems and putting them into perspective.

2009 Travel Changes You Must Know

Airlines must quote a total price for tickets. In Europe, a new “transparency” rule mandates that airfares must include all taxes, fees and charges be known on the price of the ticket. And any price additions must be communicated in “a clear, transparent and unambiguous way at the start of any booking process.” This will inform travelers of the true costs and permit them to opt in or out of all optional charges. The result will be no more surprises when you buy a ticket for travel within Europe or to Europe, and the consumer can shop around.

Cruising Through Storms

According to a recent article in the LA Times, travelers should consider independed brokers before buying insurance sold by cruise lines, and here's why:

"Many travel insurance polices will reimburse you -- with various restrictions -- if a hurricane affecting your destination interrupts your trip or causes it to be canceled. But not the Cruise Vacation Protection Plan that Carnival offered.

Under covered reasons for trip interruption and cancellation, that plan listed a hurricane affecting your home but not your destination.

On the sunny side: Because "inclement weather" was covered for trip delays, policy holders who got off the Ecstasy in New Orleans or Houston may be entitled to collect up to $500 for airfare they paid to get home and other costs, according to Carnival and BerkelyCare, the plan's administrator.

Be wary of insurance sold by your travel supplier."

China Don'ts

BEIJING - Don't ask a tourist's age or wage, steer clear of sex and avoid religion: what many Chinese consider idle chit-chat has now become the latest area of censure in Beijing as it prepares for an influx of Olympic visitors.

Posters displayed on bulletin boards in the neighborhood which includes tourist magnet the Forbidden City, and which will host Olympics boxing events, counsel locals against a wide range of potentially awkward conversation topics with foreigners.

The list of "eight don't asks" was issued by the Dongcheng district Propaganda Department as a guide for locals about how to show proper hospitality, a department spokesman said.

"Don't ask about income or expenses, don't ask about age, don't ask about love life or marriage, don't ask about health, don't ask about someone's home or address, don't ask about personal experience, don't ask about religious beliefs or political views, don't ask what someone does," the Olympics logo stamped poster advises.

Several etiquette guidelines have already been issued in the run-up to the Games, as China prepares to put its best foot forward with a faultless event.

Where To Get Your Train Tickets

1) RAILEUROPE (formerly Europass) offers travel to single or multiple countries. raileurope.com

2) RAILTEAM offers corporate rates to Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria via high speed network. railteam.eu/en

3) JAPAN RAILWAYS GROUP runs Japan's Shinkansen or "bullet train" at least six times per hour between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations. japanrail.com