Why is this good?
DDespite the ongoing flap over the passport
situation, there seemed to be some good news
from Washington last week when Sen. Byron
Dorgan (D-N.D.) introduced the Travel Promotion Act of 2007 to promote the U.S. as a
destination in overseas markets.
Significantly, the bill has a powerful pair of bipartisan
sponsors, Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the two kingpins of the Senate Commerce Committee. That’s a good sign.
Notably, the legislation’s stated purposes go beyond
promoting travel to the U.S. to include communicating
U.S. security and entry procedures to foreign visitors so
that they won’t be deterred by negative impressions of
the process. Another good sign.
The bill would set up a Corporation for Travel Promotion, supervised by a board of directors with representatives from various travel industry segments, plus
the small-business and higher-education communities
— a welcome acknowledgement of travel’s importance
to commerce, science
E D I T O R I A L S and culture. Still more good
news: The corporation
would have an annual budget of up to $100 million for
advertising, promotion, outreach and related activities.
At this point we asked ourselves, “What’s the catch?”
The catch appears to be a body blow, possibly a death
blow, for the Visa Waiver Program, the long-standing arrangement by which the U.S. permits the citizens of 27
countries to enter the U. S. without a visa. Those countries
extend the reciprocal privilege to U.S. passport holders.
It so happens that the assumed funding source for the
Travel Promotion Act is a $10 fee that would be paid by
foreign visitors when they apply for an Electronic Travel
Authorization, or ETA.
An ETA would be, in effect, a digital visa. To get one, a
foreign visitor would have to transmit biographical and
itinerary information to the U.S. in advance of arrival.
It’s not yet clear how much information would be required, nor is it clear how or when the traveler would
transmit the information or how the U.S. would communicate its “authorization” back to the traveler.
Even less clear is what happens to the reciprocal waiver
if the U.S. starts requiring every traveler to have the electronic equivalent of a visa.
The U. S. has sowed enough confusion for travelers who
ask, “Do I need a passport?” It now seems determined to
sow even more chaos when they ask, “Do I need a visa?”
Caring for a Queen
We find ourselves already speaking of the QE2 in the past
tense, as in, “She was a great ship.” We have to remind
ourselves that she is a great ship.
If you stop to ponder the source of that greatness, you
might conclude that what is great and notable about the
QE2 is not just her graceful good looks, the grand and
intimate spaces, the stout machinery. It’s the care.
It takes a grand design, hard steel, great people and
good luck to make a ship great and keep it great for 40
years, but above all it takes care. What makes her great is
that people care about her. And the care is contagious.
There will be numerous farewells to the QE2 over the
next year-and-a-half, and we should remember that each
one is a tribute to those who designed, built and operated
this ship; those who refurbished and maintained it; and
those who burnished its image and arranged for this regal
retirement. They achieved greatness because they cared.
Passport delays end up
Regarding the State Department’s offer to refund
expedited fees [“State Department offers to refund
fees for expedited passports,” Travel Weekly.com,
June 18]: OK, this is a great start. But what about the
people that had to rebook their vacations because passports did not arrive on time?
I had a honeymoon couple that applied for their passports in what we thought was (and were told) enough
time in advance of their travel to receive them.
Unfortunately, the passports did not arrive on time.
They decided to reschedule their honeymoon so they
wouldn’t lose the entire value of their package. As it
turned out, the passport arrived two days after their
original scheduled departure. The cost for them to reschedule their honeymoon was $600.
I’m sure there are worse stories out there, but this is in
the forefront of concern in our office.
Thank you for raising this issue.
connection times lies on the airlines or whoever should
be regulating them. Those same flights are listed on all
GDSs as well as on the Internet.
In fact, on many occasions I have reserved adequate
connections for clients only to have the airlines make
schedule changes that shrunk the time considerably. Yet
they are still listed as legal connections, and very often
there are no alternatives.
Unlike the old days, travel agents are not able to piece
together segments in order to book desirable flights and
connections for their clients (not for any kind of a decent
rate, at least).
Someone in the airline industry or airport system
needs to control the flights and set up realistic, legal connections.
A to Z Cruises and More
World Travel Center
Did the Kents make it? Readers
respond to Turen’s column
In Richard Turen’s Reality Check column [“Blind faith,”
May 21], I am surprised that he is laying the blame for
short airline connections on the cruise lines and tour
I do agree that the “pick” for their passengers can be
terrible at times. I have had a number of disputes with
vendors, and therefore usually advise my clients to purchase air separately or request an air deviation.
But the bottom line is that the blame for impossible
Iwas quite surprised that Turen did not mention that
the cruise lines are always going for the lowest negotiated air fare, particularly on return flights. The passengers have already taken the cruise, and the cruise line
could care less about any potential problems on the return home.
This business about the computer selecting the flights
is bull. We advise clients to purchase their own air if they
can’t live with the assigned air.
They almost always go with the cruise line’s air due to
the cost; however, we give them the choice. We also advise
clients on tight connections to take a carry-on bag with
two days of clothing.
Did Turen advise his clients to consider a planned
overnight stay in Paris? That is a lot less expensive than
purchasing their own air and also makes the return trip
more relaxing and less stressful.
I spent many years in the airline business. Under normal conditions, 50-minute connections usually work,
otherwise the airlines would not schedule them. In many