Ask T+L: Connecting Flights, Helicopter Tours, Airport Security, Millennium Park
Reader's Find Croatia
This May, I took the advice of a Croatian friend and stayed at the Grand Villa Argentina in Dubrovnik [14 Frana Supila; 385-20/440-552; www.gva.hr ; doubles from $243]. The recently restored 1927 property is within walking distance of the city's historic center and has beautiful views of the Adriatic—and of Croatia's many islands. The level of service was impressive: the staff even returned my rental car for me. The best part about the hotel is the outdoor saltwater pool that lies just a few feet from the sea. With the sound of water crashing into nearby coves, and a magnificent view of the Old Town and its fortified walls, the pool is the best seat in the house. —Alex Lunney, Bronxville, N.Y.
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I recently flew from Brussels to Rome and then opted to drive to Naples rather than take my connecting flight. As a result, the airline canceled my return ticket. Is this standard policy?
—Chance Manning, Milwaukee, Wis.
If you skip a flight, most airlines will automatically cancel the remainder of your itinerary. Airlines assume that a passenger who misses a connection will not be taking a return flight. This practice, of course, gives the airline a chance to resell your seat. In the past, travelers could book what is called a "hidden-city ticket," which involved purchasing an indirect flight with a layover at their chosen destination because it was cheaper than a nonstop flight to the same locale. For security reasons, this practice is now prohibited by law. If you plan on making stops in multiple cities, consider a refundable or one-way ticket. Some carriers, such as American Airlines, have recently reduced one-way fares to boost flexibility. Also, if you know that you're going to miss a connection, be sure to call the airline in advance to reschedule your flight. There may be a change fee, but at least you can recover the full value of your ticket.
I will be in Chicago soon and am looking forward to visiting Millennium Park. What is going on there in August?
—Allison Thompson, Raleigh, N.C.
The park, noted for its Frank Gehry–designed pavilion, celebrates its second birthday with an impressive lineup of free events, including the premieres of compositions written and performed by Chicago saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, South African reedist Zim Ngqawana, and renowned drummer Louis Moholo. Later this month, Anoushka Shankar, the daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar, will present a show based on her 2006 Grammy-nominated album, Rise , joining India's musical traditions to her own distinct sitar style. The Windy City also tips its hat to Mozart's 250th birthday, in the Chicago Cultural Center Summer Opera's rendition of The Magic Flute , with interwoven Kutiyattam, Balinese, and Indian Sanskrit theater interpretations. See www.millenniumpark.org or www.chicagoculturalcenter.org for details.
Can you recommend a great helicopter tour in North or Central America?
—S.S., Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Vancouver outfitter Nimmo Bay (800/837-4354; www.nimmobay.com ; from $5,403 per person for three days ) will plan three- and four-day custom adventure trips—heli-fishing for wild salmon on the Ahnuhati River or flying to a 10,000-year-old glacier. For a short trip in Hawaii, Kauai's Safari Helicopters (800/326-3356; www.safarihelicopters.com ; from $224 per person ) offers one-hour tours from Lihue Airport. You'll fly west to Nawiliwili Bay, soar over Manawaipuna Falls, and then hover above the cliffs of the Na Pali coast, which has spectacular views of the rugged terrain. If you're seeking a once-in-a-lifetime heli-experience, go to Costa Rica, where Abercrombie & Kent (800/554-7016; www.abercrombiekent.com ; from $36,000 a day ) will charter a private 201-foot luxury yacht, which comfortably sleeps up to 24 guests, with your own helipad on board. You'll take off in the chopper for daily adventures—swinging high above the jungles of Carara National Park on a zip-line and snorkeling off the shores of Caño Island.
What is the additional screening process at airports these days?
—Sherry Taylor, Gainesville, Ga.
The Transportation Security Administration is constantly updating its airport security measures. If you are chosen for additional screening, TSA spokesperson Ann Davis says, expect a hand-wand search and a pat-down, which may include your torso and even the groin area. A pat-down should be conducted by a person of your gender, and you can always request that it be done in private. New "trace portals"—extremely sensitive explosives detectors that travelers step into— are also popping up in airports around the country, with more to come. Finally, remember that airport security measures do change, so expect the unexpected. "We don't want passengers to have the exact same experience every time," Davis says. "That way, people won't be able to predict what airport personnel are going to do."