Detroit Free Press Ellen Creager column [Detroit Free Press :: ]
(Detroit Free Press (MI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 09--Dear Traveler: You know how the Delta counters at the airport have regular lines and Sky Priority lines? We were told by an agent that we could use the Sky Priority line because we have a Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card.
We had no problem using the line on trips to Florida or Seattle. But last month, we were turned away by an agent at the Priority desk. Did Delta change its policy, or were we given the wrong information in the first place? It was very embarrassing. -- Prior Practice
Dear Prior: You were given the wrong information.
"Sky Priority" desks at the Delta check-in counters are reserved for elite Delta fliers at the Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion levels, plus people flying on business class or first class tickets.
Look at it this way: You made such a good impression you lucked out twice! Sadly, now you have to rejoin the masses.
This is all part of a trend that irritates me to no end -- the increasing segmentation of the flying public into not-so-special, special, super special, even more special and mega-special classes. Naturally, the more loot you spend, the more special you are.
Dear Traveler: Does Asheville, N.C., have an airport? I couldn't find anything about one. -- Southbound
Dear Southbound: Yes, the western North Carolina town is served by Asheville Regional Airport. This time of year you have to fly mostly through Atlanta or Charlotte to get there, but in the summer there are seasonal nonstops from many cities, including from Detroit and New York. Check out the airport and its schedule at www.flyavl.com.
Dear Traveler: We are going on a family cruise to the Caribbean for our wedding anniversary in April. We all have cell phones, iPads, iPods and other devices. We all use our phones as cameras, so naturally we want to bring and use them on the cruise. We also want to stay in touch with family at home.
My concern is getting hit with huge bills when we return home for data transfer or other unknown charges. Do you have any advice? -- Cruising Along
Dear Cruising: Cruise ships are not compatible with constant online activity unless you are very rich.
There are two issues here. First, devices that only work with WiFi, like iPads and iPods, are fine to bring. Since they have no cellular signal, they have no data roaming. The charge you'll face there is to hook up to cruise ship WiFi. Charges are getting cheaper, but they are not cheap. A typical package might be $50 for 100 minutes, or a heart-stopping 75 cents a minute.
For cell phones or any device that links to a cell signal, be very, very careful. Contact your cell phone company to ask about available phone/data plans for the cruise ship you're taking and the type of phone you have. A typical package might include a $2.49 per minute rate for calling, 50 cents to text and $25 for 100MB of data.
It gets worse. Even if you get a plan, it's only good while you're in international waters. If you are in port, your phone will attempt to link to the carrier in that country -- and likely rack up voice and data roaming while you're not looking.
Me? I'd ask the most tech-savvy members of your group to research your particular ship and wireless carrier and report back to everyone.
Personally, I do not use a smartphone while on a cruise ship unless in U.S. waters. I also limit my WiFi usage aboard the ship to the bare minimum. That is why it is called a vacation.
Contact Detroit Free Press Travel Writer Ellen Creager, the Michigan Traveler, at 313-222-6498, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ellencreager
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