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Wednesday travel notes

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  April 8, 2009 07:08 AM

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Good morning, travelers. Already it feels like a good day. The Sox won the opener and looked great doing it. Beckett pitched a great game; Tek homered in the 6th. Life is good.
Oh, and here's some traveled-related news:

*Orbitz said it will waive booking fees on most flights booked on Orbitz.com and Cheaptickets.com through May, making it the last of the big online travel agencies to concede the valuable fee revenue -- at least through spring. Last month, Expedia Inc. announced it would drop booking fees on airline-ticket purchases until May 31, matching a long-term program already in place at Priceline.com and Expedia Inc.'s Hotwire.com. Later in the month, Travelocity.com dropped booking fees, also through May 31. Not included in the Orbitz no-fee promotion are multicarrier tickets, in which an itinerary combines routes from multiple airlines -- tickets the airlines themselves don't sell. As the volume of people traveling has plummeted across the country in recent months, online travel agents have been aggressively with their promotions. In March, Priceline.com and Travelocity.com unveiled promotions that promise to pay travelers back if prices fall. Orbitz led the trend by announcing a long-term program for airline-ticket reimbursement, called "Price Assurance," last June. Last month, Travelocity.com launched a price guarantee on vacation packages purchased through May 31. Priceline.com announced a price guarantee last month on both airline tickets and packages booked through June 1. The programs promise to automatically reimburse travelers if they book an airline ticket or package and then someone else books the same ticket or package at a lower price. The companies have introduced the new consumer-friendly services as temporary promotions, but industry watchers say it's likely the deals will be extended in some form. (Wall Street Journal)

*The Transportation Department plans to let Continental Airlines join an alliance of other carriers, including United, who enjoy antitrust immunity in working together on pricing and schedules for some flights. Continental announced last year that it planned to join the Star Alliance and leave the SkyTeam group that includes Delta and Northwest. The shift could give Continental a larger share of its new team's trans-Atlantic traffic while also allowing it to benefit from United's strong routes to Asia. Members of a third major alliance, including American Airlines and British Airways, are awaiting word on their own application for antitrust immunity. Those carriers have complained that they are at a disadvantage to Star and SkyTeam members who already have antitrust immunity, which lets each group function as one big airline on international routes. (AP)

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  • Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor
  • Eric Wilbur, Boston.com staff
  • Kari Bodnarchuk writes about outdoor adventures, offbeat places, and New England.
  • Patricia Borns, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs travel, maritime, and historical narratives as well as blogs and books.
  • Patricia Harris, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Paul E. Kandarian, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs New England and Caribbean stories.
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  • Necee Regis is a regular contributor to Globe Travel.
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