Can this trip be saved? My 17-year-old booked a ticket on Orbitz — actually, two tickets

Booking a flight online may be convenient, but it’s far from problem-free. Just ask Charles Bornheim, whose son is holding an extra airline ticket he booked through Orbitz.

Bornheim is trying to get a refund, but is having no luck. Airlines can be pretty unforgiving with their refund policies, and at some point when you’re booking online, you have to take responsibility for your own actions.

But is this a case where no one is really to blame — and should I try to help him secure a refund?
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Thank you! United fixes “last vacation” for terminal cancer patient

baliHere’s a heart-warming story for the Thanksgiving holiday: James Thomson and a longtime friend, who is suffering from terminal cancer, ran into trouble with their flights from San Francisco to Bali. One leg of Thompson’s flight was canceled, which threatened to end his friend’s final vacation.

Despite repeated efforts to contact United Airlines, he was getting nowhere.

Would Thompson’s friend miss his last trip?
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Thanksgiving on Treasure Island

Beach

Thanksgiving evokes memories of cold weather and warm Turkey dinner, but here in Florida it’s a great time to go to the beach.

We spent the weekend before Turkey Day at Sunset Vista Beachfront Suites in Treasure Island, just north of St. Pete Beach. (My daughter Erysse shows me some of the sugary-white sand, with the hotel in the background.)
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It’s holiday travel time! You heard it here first!

snowy roadTake your car in for a tuneup. Give yourself extra time if you’re flying. Oh, and it’s going to be one for the record books.

You’ve read that before, haven’t you?

When it comes to the travel tips you see just before every major holiday, you can count on paint-by-numbers reporting: a AAA prediction followed by a sound bite from one of three travel “experts” (always the same three) followed by that familiar advice, dispensed in easy-to-read bullet points.

But which tips are cliches that should be ignored, and which are bona fide, you-must-do-this advice? If you’ve been reading these stories as long as I have, you must be wondering.
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What’s 1.4 percent, really? A second look at the Thanksgiving forecast

snow at airportAfter a sharp drop last year, more Americans are expected to travel for the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday, although travel by air will decline. That’s how the play-it-straight AP played the just-released AAA Thanksgiving forecast.

How many more Americans? 1.4 percent, which is statistically insignificant. Oh well.

What is statistically significant is the number of air travelers who say they won’t fly — down 6.7 percent. (AAA wasn’t the first to forecast a drop. The Air Transport Association predicted a more hopeful 4 percent decline a few weeks ago.

But do any of these numbers mean anything to you?
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Bad Spirit? Airline reschedules Thanksgiving flight, offers useless vouchers

spirit planeDebbie Gitlan’s Thanksgiving flights, which she booked last March on Spirit Airlines, kept getting rescheduled to the point where she couldn’t take the trip anymore.

Some airlines would offer a full refund under those circumstances. But not Spirit.

The carrier issued a credit that ended up being as difficult to use as her original tickets. Which is when she contacted me.
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