Southwest Air: Less Legroom = More Passenger$

Remember those crazy days a half-century ago, when students crammed as many bodies as possible into phone booths or Volksbugs? It seems SW is following the same tack now to make more money.

SW is one of our favorite airlines, and we’ve been flying it for years because of the economical ticket prices, on-time record and friendly crews. However, rising fuel and other costs are forcing SW to join other airlines to dig wherever possible to make money. It was charging extra for boarding first, then added baggage fees and now squeezed seating.

SW seating has never been roomy, but some company beancounters deduced that by moving the rows a mere inch closer, from 33 to 32, they could jam in another six seats per flight. Some computations indicate that the space subtraction could bring an addition of nearly $800 million a year in increased SW revenues.

We long-time SW flyers can manage the short flights while jammed into the smaller spaces, but could have problems with those four- to eight-hour hops. Way to go, SW! Now, if someone could redesign the single-commode toilets into four-seaters...

Autumn Travels In California’s Beautiful Napa Valley PDF Print E-mail

How many wandering seniors remember the 1956 Broadway musical, Most Happy Fella? It was a hit then, and including a later movie, it has been revived many times throughout the country. The next line of the song is “in the whole Napa Valley”, sung by Tony after his successful grape harvest and courting of a local girl.

You can be most happy, too, if you visit the Napa Valley during the autumn grape harvest and many celebrations of the season, including grape stomping competitions. Sadly, the California wildfires earlier in the year made travel in nearby areas dangerous. However, everything is safe this autumn, and wineries offer many special events for those senior travelers who crave the fruit of the vine. For current info, go to www.visitnapavalley.com

Is It OK For Us To Set Up A Home-Swap Arrangement? PDF Print E-mail

Q: We retired last year, and with kids grown up and gone, we’re rattling around in our big, four-bedroom home. We also have a pool and putting green. We’re not ready to sell, and intend to do a lot of world traveling, but don’t want to pay sky-high hotel prices.

We’ve heard about home swapping, and would like to spend time in nice, quiet houses in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany etc. What do you think of the idea? Mrs. PFO’R, Atlanta GA

A: There are on-line agencies that offer home swap deals around the world. Get in touch with some, such as Intervac Home Exchange and HomeLink. For a fee they’ll set up contacts and give you info about homes, locations, local features, costs, security and other details.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM: Batty And Bottomless PDF Print E-mail

For a great autumn experience, join up in an exploration of an underground cave. Carlsbad Caverns descend to down a quarter of a mile, one of the deepest limestone caves in the U.S. The humorist Will Rogers named it “the Grand Canyon with a roof over it.”

Tours are available for every skill level, from expert spelunker to ranger escorted. Be sure to be at the entrance at sunset with your camera when thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats fly out to seek delicious desert bugs. For more info, go to www.nps.gov/cave

Munich, Germany: Oktoberfest Starts Early This Year PDF Print E-mail

The traditional beer and bratwurst celebration begins on September 22 and ends October 7. So, if you have plans to be part of where it all began in the picturesque Bavarian city, make your travel reservations now!

Germany’s third largest metropolis offers much more than food and suds. It also boasts beautiful parks, museums, entertainment, restaurants, as well as historic buildings, including the Residenz and Nymphenburg Palaces. Check with airlines and travel agencies for schedules and package deals. For more info, go to www.oktoberfest.de/en

Q: When Is The Best Time Of Year To Go To Las Vegas? PDF Print E-mail

My friend and I just retired from careers in government service. We’d like to celebrate with our first visit to Las Vegas. How do we get the best bargains? PJR, Bethesda MD

A: It’s the shoulder season, bargain months between summer and year-end holidays.  Young people are back to work and college, less crowds and room rates are lower until pricey holiday season starts in November. Shop around for autumn hotel bargains, especially package deals that include rooms, meals, entertainment and flights. Also, autumn Vegas weather is more comfortably cool, especially in early mornings and evenings. Be sure to see the free nightly music and light show on downtown Fremont Street.


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