Travelers' Intercom

I am a volunteer advocate for author Chris Elliott's travel help forums, a service of the nonprofit organization Elliott Advocacy (www.elliott.org/category/the-troubleshooter), and I have learned more in the last three years than I ever could have imagined.

I have never worked for an airline or hotel and have no connections to any of them whatsoever, but I travel often and have come to understand pretty much how things are today, especially with flying. I find the whole process...

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I expected that the transfer from Cˇeský Krumlov, Czechia, to Innsbruck, Austria, on July 31, 2018, would be a challenge for my sister and me. A search online provided several options, including buses and trains. Our choice was to take a RegioJet bus from Cˇeský Krumlov to Cˇeské Budeˇjovice, a FlixBus to Linz, Austria (the FlixBus tickets purchased online from home), and then a train to Innsbruck.

I worried about buses arriving on time, being out of order, etc., but they didn't...

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People shopping for food in Meknes' medina a few days before the start of Ramadan. Photo by Stephen Addison

Only after my wife, Paula, and I booked our May 2018 Moroccan trip did I discover that most of our trip would occur during the holy month of Ramadan.

The timing of Ramadan varies each year, since the Islamic Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar. In 2018, Ramadan ran from May 16 to June 14 (it will be 10 days earlier in 2019); we were in Morocco May 12-21. The schedule for Ramadan can be a day earlier in the US.

During Ramadan, almost all Muslims are expected to fast from before...

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After taking the "Cities of Light" cruise-tour from Prague to Paris with Viking River Cruises, on Oct. 16, 2017, I flew from Paris to Montreal, continuing home to Los Angeles. Viking had arranged my flights, routing me on Air Canada (888/247-2262, www.aircanada.com), which I had not flown before.

On the flight out of Paris, I found the plane comfortable (I had an aisle seat two rows behind business class), and the meal, with wine, was adequate.

An hour after eating...

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I have a Merrill Lynch BankAmericard (Bank of America) credit card* on which I earn points. The card's brochure promises you can get a ticket for a round-trip flight costing up to $500 in exchange for a minimum of 25,000 points.

In January 2018, I attempted to exchange 50,000 points for two round-trip domestic tickets for my wife and myself. However, the Bank of America agent and her supervisor refused to reserve regular Economy-class seats for me on American Airlines (AA), even...

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My wife, Karen, and I needed Russian visas in order to take the tour "Waterways of the Tsars," traveling from St. Petersburg to Moscow with Viking River Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 855/338-4546, www.vikingcruises.com), June 1-13, 2018.

To obtain our visas, we completed the form provided by Viking and asked them to send us the Invitation Letter that the Russian Embassy requires for a visa. Viking first replied that they wouldn't do this until a certain number of days...

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My husband, Jack, and I took a vacation to Russia, June 26-July 7, 2018, traveling on a 12-day river cruise offered by Value World Tours (Fountain Valley, CA; 800/795-1633, valueworldcruises.com). We had a fabulous experience both on and off the ship.

As for the cabins on the M/S Sergei Yesenin, only six suites were available on the sun deck, but they were brand new and well appointed. The pricing was great compared to that of other companies. We paid about $5,500 for two in an...

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Marilyn Armel at the entrance to the amphitheater at Beit She’arim.

In the fall of 2016, I realized I wanted to visit Israel after seeing a Jerusalem exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I had previously traveled on a trip for which the Archaeological Institute of America (Boston, MA; 857/305-9350, www.archaeological.org) had been a cosponsor, so I found their site.

Their trip "Israel: Treasures of the Holy Land," which took place May 11-22, 2017, was everything I wanted — a small group (14 people) accompanied by a...

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