10 for the Road
Just back from
to the online home of travel columnist Donald D. Groff, who has
dispensed advice and stories since 1988 in such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer,
the Newark Star-Ledger, The Kansas City Star, Newsday, Salon, Condť Nast Traveler, Consumer Reports
Travel Letter, The Boston Globe, and Endless Vacation magazine.
Greyhound launches a
Nonstop flights begin
between Philadelphia and Portland, Ore.
Luggage checks that
bypass the airport
Pa. offers online parks reservations
Month clears House
By Donald D. Groff
Anyone who relies on Greyhound to shuttle between cities
should know the bus line has started a frequent-user program that counts
each one-way trip as a segment and for each 16 segments awards a free
round trip anywhere Greyhound goes.
Thatís a good deal if your 16 segments are all $14
one-way trips between, say, Philadelphia and New York and you take your
reward as a more expensive cross-country trip. (Discounting the issue of
whether you can tolerate a cross-country bus ride.)
There are lesser award levels as well Ė signing up for
the program gets you a 10 percent discount on your next online purchase.
For six one-way segments you get a free companion pass
with a full-fare ticket and a 15 percent ticket discount for yourself.
For 10 one-way segments you get a free companion pass and
a 20 percent discount on your next online ticket purchase.
The Road Rewards program is based on a 12-month cycle,
starting the day you enroll. At the end of the period, you start anew and
lose any accumulated credit, so itís best to keep track and cash out
what you have if possible before losing it all. Part of the programís
aim, of course, is to encourage regular riders to take more trips to help
them qualify for awards, just as the airline programs do.
The user program also gives Greyhound a leg up on
competitors such as the so-called Chinatown buses that operate between New
York and several cities. Their popularity and extremely low fares forced
Greyhound to match fares a couple years ago. Recently, however, some of
Greyhounds online fares have been slightly less expensive than certain
Chinatown bus fares. A site with links to Chinatown bus companies is at www.chinatown-bus.com.
A Greyhound agent said the 10 percent, 15 percent, and 20
percent discounts can be applied to online fares. A 20 percent discount on
a $28 round-trip fare between Philadelphia and New York would mean a
round-trip fare of $22.40.
Also offered is a 10 percent discount on food at certain
bus terminals. The Road Rewards program also applies to trips on Peter Pan
Lines, a Greyhound subsidiary.
Some of the fine print is explained here.
Sign up for the program at the Road
Rewards site or call 1-800-231-2222
for more information.
Philadelphia-Portland nonstop. US Airways started daily nonstop
flights between Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., on June 1, becoming the
only nonstop service available between the cities, the airline said.
The flights are on an Airbus A320 jet operated by America
West Airlines, seating 12 in first class and 138 in coach. The westbound
flight departs Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m., arriving at 11:25 p.m. Portland
time. The eastbound flight is a red-eye, departing Portland at 10:45 p.m.,
arriving at 6:50 the next morning Philadelphia time.
America West took over US Airways in 2005, adopting the US
Checking bags, pre-airport. American Airlines is offering passengers
who have been on certain cruise ships or at a number of hotels and
convention centers the chance to check their bags at those sites, shedding
the hassles of airport bag checks altogether. Dubbed the AAdvance Bag
Check program, the cost for cruise passengers is $10 to $20 per person
depending on cruise line, and $10 for hotel guests.
Among places where the service can be used are Royal
Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines and a handful of hotels
where passengers can drop bags up to 24 hours in advance at a bag check
station. The bags go to the airport and passengers donít see them again
until they reach their destination.
Advance boarding passes also are issued when the baggage
is dropped off, so passengers can go straight to the security lines when
they get to the airport.
The airline started the program a year ago with cruise
lines and has recently expanded it to include more than 34 locations,
including 19 Disney resorts in Orlando; convention centers in Chicago and
San Francisco; the Hilton Grand Vacation Club in Honolulu and the Hyatt
Regency in Dallas. A full list of locations is at www.aa.com.
The service is offered through Baggage Airline Guest
Services (BAGS, Inc.), headquartered in Orlando, which calls itself the
largest provider of off-airport passenger check-in services in
the world. Other companies using its services are www.airportbags.com.
National Passport Month progress. Guidebook publisher
Lonely Planet and its supporters declared September to be national
passport month in 2005, spurred by the conviction that international
travel promotes global understanding and the fact that less than 25
percent of Americans have passports. Lonely Planet has since been pushing
for official federal recognition of passport month, mounting its effort in
tandem with publication of the book Donít Let the World Pass You By:
52 Reasons to Have a Passport, by Sara Benson (Lonely Planet, 2005),
and the effort is bearing fruit. On June 6, a resolution supporting
passport month passed in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep.
Barbara Lee (D., Calif.). Next step: a presidential signature. See the
resolution and read about the Lonely
Expanding to Europe, Apple Vacations starts land-only and air-inclusive packages to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome. 1-888-288-1433 or