>Q: I am fortunate enough to be doing a girls' vacation to Prague the week between Christmas and New Year's. We're looking to relax, enjoy time away from our families, etc. Any ideas on how we should spend our time or must-sees?
A: Prague is one of the world's most beautiful cities, and between Christmas and New Year's will be the perfect time just to walk around and drink in the atmosphere. There's tons to see: the Old Town and the iconic Charles Bridge, the New Town and Wenceslas Square, Prague Castle on the hill and St. Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane, the Jewish quarter with its haunting cemetery, Mala Strana, and on and on. If it gets too cold, there are lots of museums (Alphonse Mucha museum, Museum of Decorative Arts, etc.), or hang around in some of the cafes.
>Q: Can you expand on the new rules for names on airline tickets? For example, I bought a ticket two months ago and I'm flying next week. Should I make sure that ticket has the name that matches my ID (which has my full name)?
A: When you booked, did you remember if you typed in your name, gender and DOB? These days, if you book online, the reservation will not proceed unless you input the data. However, if you can't remember, call the airline after this and ask the agent if the data is attached to your reservation. If not, you know what to do ... As for whether the name matches: If you neglected to, say, add your middle initial, you should be OK. Just next time you make a reservation, be sure to use the same name that is on your government ID.
>Q: We are planning a honeymoon to France in early June. The tricky part is that we are hoping to use frequent flier miles (American Airlines) to purchase one of our plane tickets (Kansas City to Paris). We had located an available flight itinerary three days ago, but when we went to book, it was gone. We called the airline to double-check, but there was nothing -- not on alternate dates, not from alternate cities. The agent suggested that we continue to check the airline Web site for flight availability every day, in case additional seats become available. She said the likelihood of this happening was "greater than zero" but couldn't give us any better estimate than that. Any suggestions for additional strategies we might attempt to be able to use miles for this trip? Thanks!
A: Frequent flier mile seats do go fast, but it is possible that if the flight does not sell well, the carrier will release more seats. So call often. You could also check to see what partner airlines will take your miles and try to book on that airline instead.
>Q: Do you think we can expect prices for flights and hotels to go down for the Christmas/New Year's week as the dates approach or are we stuck with what we see? Any good deals you are seeing in the general Caribbean area for New Year's?
A: There may be last-minute deals, but no massive, across-the-board sales on the horizon. Identify a couple of islands that you're interested in visiting, and then go to their tourism Web sites first to look for deals. From there, identify a few likely resorts, and go directly to their Web sites for promos. The Christmas/New Year's week is a popular one for travel to the Caribbean, so high demand means high prices.
>Q: We are bringing an extra kid (not a family member) on our trip to Orlando. Do we need to bring anything special (letter, passport) to get through security?
A: A letter from the child's parents or caretakers would be good, detailing their permission for this trip. Also get a letter from them in case you need to take the child to the hospital or seek medical attention. The letter should give you permission to allow treatment, if that's the case.
>Q: I'm heading to Puerto Rico in a few weeks and will be staying in Isla Verde (near San Juan). Could you recommend a beach within two hours' driving distance where my boyfriend could rent a board and surf?
A: The beaches at Ocean Park, about a half-hour west of Isla Verde, and Luquillo, about one hour east of San Juan in good traffic, are better suited for surfing than Isla Verde's. Isla Verde is more for swimming.
>Q: For years I have been an Executive Premier flier on United. I make two trips a year to London from Washington, D.C., and I would buy a coach ticket at prices ranging from $1,000 to $1,400 and would spend 30,000 each way to upgrade. But this year, United wanted $1,400 for an economy class ticket for March travel from D.C. to London, plus 20,000 miles and a fee of $500 each way to upgrade. When did United add these co-pay fees and do all airlines charge them?
A: United started charging co-pays, in addition to frequent flier miles for upgrades, in January 2010. American, Continental and US Airways also charge co-pays; Delta does not, but you can only upgrade more expensive economy class fares to business or first on Delta. During the summer months, when business travelers tend to fly less, you will find heavily discounted business class fares to Europe, so you're much better off just buying the discounted business class ticket.