Q: I have about 1.5 days free in Vienna next month. What are the 3-4 “must see” attractions? Also, best places to eat/drink?
A: I just returned from a visit to Vienna. If you’ve never been there before, Schonbrunn Palace is lovely: If the weather is nice, the gardens are worth a long stroll. Get a good overview of the city via the Vienna Ring Tram. Most visitors try to see at least one concert. I did not get to the Opera House, but would have liked to have done that. Even if you can’t get to a concert there, go on a tour. The Christmas Market on Rathausplatz opens Nov. 18. I also enjoyed attending a Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Get details at the Vienna Tourism site.
Q: I am Platinum on American Airlines. At 72 hours before a flight I am supposed to be confirmed for an upgrade – one of the benefits of spending a ridiculous amount of my life with AA. However, my last 17 flights, I have not received an upgrade in 72 hours even when seats in first class are still available online. The airline says that not all first-class seats are eligible for “upgrades.” Fine. But two weeks or so before the flight, I’ll check and (for example) 3/6 first-class seats are taken. Which means they were paid for, because even executive platinum members don’t get upgraded that early. The day of the flight, 3/6 still remain open. Yet none of these three was available for the 72-hour (or even 96 for executive platinum member) confirmed upgrade. They upgrade at the airport. I’m starting to think AA is running a scam about this “terrific benefit.”
A: I’m sorry you’re having trouble collecting your “benefits.” Airline loyalty programs have steadily eroded in recent years, to the point where participating doesn’t make sense for most travelers. A quick look at the fine print in your program agreement will reveal that nothing is guaranteed. Benefits can change at any time, for any reason. Also, your miles don’t really even belong to you. It’s up to people like you to speak out when the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality – and to people like me to give you voice.
Q: I’m traveling to Lima, Peru, in early November. The problem is the flight arrives very late at night and my hotel is in downtown in the Miraflores neighborhood. Any suggestions on how to get from the airport to the hotel? Been heeding some of the U.S. Embassy-Lima’s caution about using certain taxis.
A: I would suggest taking one of the three official taxi services that are registered through the airport: Taxi CMV, Taxi Mitsu Remisse or Taxi Green (good reviews for the last option). The cabs charge flat-rate fares. Expect to pay around $17 for a ride to Miraflores. You will pay at the airport, not the hotel.
You could also ask your hotel to pre-order a taxi and have the driver meet you at the airport. You might pay a bit more, but the extra cost is worth the peace of mind.
Q: Arriving at Fort Lauderdale on Friday night, staying at Homestead to start driving to Key West next morning. We are planning to return on Sunday to Miami and were wondering if there are sites that we shouldnt miss in the Keys on our way back. I would love to try Key lime pie and a legit Cuban sandwich! Finally, while in Miami Beach, we want to do an Everglades tour or some nature-related activity, what would you recommend? Also any beach areas in Miami that are serene and quiet?
A: I can help with the food. I’d get an early start from Homestead and maybe stop by Keys Fisheries in Marathon for lunch. Try their grouper Reuben. In Key West, check out Pepe’s for the Key lime pie. Alas, my favorite place for Cuban sandwiches closed.
Q: My husband and I (mid-30s) are looking to travel to Europe in December (either Paris, Spain, or Rome). We’re both overwhelmed, though, in trying to come up with a good itinerary. Are there any travel companies that put together itineraries geared toward people our age? We’d like to do something more interesting than just going to the famous tourist sites. We’re so overwhelmed trying to figure this out that we’re worried we’ll never get it booked.
A: You may be overthinking. If you’ve never been to Paris, Rome or anywhere in Spain, you’ll want to see at least some of the famous tourist sites. I typically start by choosing a centrally located hotel, then I pick the well-known sites that I know I can’t miss. And then I punt. I ask the desk clerks for ideas. I download info before I go via the Google Trips app. I look at websites such as Timeout. I read articles on Buzzfeed. And I just wander. You can do this!
Q: Do any of you have experience with WOW Airlines? I am considering them for an upcoming trip. I know their fares are low and they charge for everything else, but I am curious to know about the experience once you pay for all these things. Are they strict about keeping to baggage sizes, keeping people in the seats they pay for, etc? Anything you can share is appreciated.
A: I’ve had a few WOW cases recently, so I’m glad you asked. WOW is strict about fees and surcharges, and it lives up to its reputation as a discount carrier in every way. You could save money, but I would only book if you’re sure you won’t change your travel plans. Read the fine print carefully.
Q: I am traveling to Thailand in a few weeks. I understand that there will be a period of mourning since the king’s death. I have added more dark clothes to the list of what I will wear and removed most brightly colored clothes. I understand the need for a more somber mood and want to honor the state of grief in the country. Do you think the temples and other sites will be open in November? I have read many articles but wonder if think the festivals will be canceled or just subdued and more directed to honoring the memory of the king? I am still excited for my trip but want to ensure I temper my expectations.
A: Bars and places with loud entertainment might be closed, out of respect, and organizers might cancel special events that are either boozy or boisterous. But places of worship should be open, as well as markets, tourist attractions and historic sites. To be safe, check the opening hours with your hotel before you set out.