Update: This Just In

Update: This Just In

Making Tracks in India
Getting around New Delhi usually means being stuck in traffic: a crawling cacophony of cars, horse-drawn carts, bicycles, and buses. But a $1.7 billion government-sponsored commuter rail promises to speedily transport 2 million riders through India's capital daily, upon completion in 2005. This month, five miles of track will be up and running from the eastern suburbs in Shahadara across the Yamuna River to central Delhi's Tis Hazari section. In an expansive city whose population has more than doubled to 12 million people since 1981, the new Metro will offer a long-awaited alternative to the gridlock of the Grand Trunk, India's major roadway.

The plans for a citywide train system were first presented more than 30 years ago. Despite their pride in what the Metro will provide visitors—easy, inexpensive transportation to attractions such as the famous Red Fort, a 17th-century emperor's fortress—Indian officials are even more pleased about what it will mean for Delhi's patient residents. "The progress of any city can be identified by efficient public transportation," said V. P. Krishna, an Indian tourism officer. "This is the most progressive step the government has taken to improve our quality of life in some time." A single car will carry as many as 383 passengers. When asked about possible overcrowding and grime, Krishna was optimistic: "I'm not worried about the congestion, and Delhi's trains will be kept cleaner than those of Washington, D.C." —Adam Baer

Your Airline Ticket: Use It or Lose It
It used to be that if you couldn't make a flight you'd booked, you had one year to apply the value of the ticket toward a replacement. But major airlines are tightening their rules and even increasing passenger fees (or just strictly enforcing them). On several carriers, non-refundable tickets are now like theater tickets—if you don't use them on the scheduled date, they're worthless. In addition, fees for issuing paper tickets can even apply to those booked through travel agencies. Here's a rundown of the current rules and fees (check with your airline for the latest). —Jim Glab

American
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by midnight on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* $100 (effective January 1)
Rebooking fee $100 domestic; up to $200 international
Paper-ticket fee $20
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $80

America West
Non-refundable ticket Retains value for one year from date of purchase if not used on scheduled flight
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* None
Rebooking fee $100 for all tickets
Paper-ticket fee $20 for airline-issued tickets; none for travel-agency tickets
Checked-baggage allowance Three in the United States and Canada; two for other routes
Fee for an extra bag $80

Continental
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by midnight on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* $100 (effective January 1)
Rebooking fee $100 for the United States, Latin America, and Asia; $20 for Europe
Paper-ticket fee $20
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $80


Delta
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by midnight on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* $100; $50 for Delta Express flights
Rebooking fee $100 domestic; $150 international
Paper-ticket fee $20
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $40**

Northwest
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by departure time on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* None
Rebooking fee $100 domestic; $200 international
Paper-ticket fee $25***
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $80

United
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by midnight on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* $100 (effective January 1)
Rebooking fee $100 domestic; up to $200 international
Paper-ticket fee $20
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $75

US Airways
Non-refundable ticket Must be used on flight booked, or rebooked by midnight on scheduled date of travel
Same-day standby fee for non-refundable ticket* $100
Rebooking fee $100 domestic; up to $200 international
Paper-ticket fee $25 for airline-issued tickets; none for travel-agency tickets
Checked-baggage allowance Two
Fee for an extra bag $80

Notes:
* Under the unofficial "flat-tire rule," passengers with non-refundable tickets who are less than two hours late can fly standby on the next available departure at no extra charge
** $80 for holiday travel November 15 through January 15
*** None for travel agency-issued international tickets

Paris Cleans up its Act
After years of neglect, Paris authorities are saying "Ça suffit" to the 16 tons of daily dog waste that have turned the City of Light into the City of Blight. Since last April, 70 plainclothes hygiene inspectors and 1,500 surveillance officers have been fining dog owners as much as $443 for failing to pick up after Fifi.

In September, the city launched a major ad campaign to convince residents to do their duty. Fifi's droppings are shown graphically on posters and billboards that read, EVERYTHING MUST DISAPPEAR. In addition, the mayor's office has distributed pamphlets with clear instructions on the art of refuse retrieval, and live scooping demonstrations have been given in city parks. The office has also handed out 60,000 colored pouches (filled with little plastic bags) printed with the slogan I LIVE IN THE CITY WITH MY DOG. I PICK UP.

Paris spends $10.5 million a year cleaning up after its 200,000 dogs. "For far too long we've relied on a plainly nonexistent sense of civic duty among Paris dog owners—now we're going to get tough," said Yves Contassot, deputy mayor of environmental affairs. "The polluter must pay." —Elena Bowes Marano

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