THE BLOG
01/03/2012 08:29 am ET Updated Mar 04, 2012

From The Mailbag: Airfarewatchdog Answers Your Questions About Flying

Have a question about air travel or airfares? We answer as many as we can, either by email to questions@airfarewatchdog.com or in our Q&A column.

Cheapest European Airport To Fly Into?
Q: What is the least expensive way to get fly to continental Europe? Which airport is the least expensive to fly into?

A: One thing we notice at airfarewatchdog.com is that it is often much cheaper ($500 less to cite a recent example) to fly into, say, Berlin on a given day than to, say, Frankfurt. So rather than having your heart set on arriving at a specific European airport, it's wiser to look at every possible European destination from your home airport or nearby airports and fly there, and then take a bus, train or discount European airline to your desired destination.

Similarly, a fare from, say, Dallas to a given European city might be several hundred dollars more than from, say, Houston. So you could hop on a cheap Southwest flight between Dallas and Houston and save money. In general, partly due to lower airport fees and government taxes, Spanish airports such as Madrid are cheaper than London or Paris. Dublin and Shannon are also cheaper, although they don't qualify as "continental" Europe. Istanbul and some Swiss cities have also been relatively cheaper lately.

Even If The Bag Is Just "Delayed," The Airline Owes You
Q: I am praying that you can help me out here. I took a flight on Continental from Newark to Chicago. I had a lap baby with me and when I got to the door of the plane to board, I folded up my stroller and continued on with my rolling carry on and baby bag. The agent told me there was not enough room for the roller and it would need to go with my stroller.

I threw some of my stuff (coat and boots etc.) into the bag and took the claim check issued for the bag. I assumed that I would have both my bag and stroller waiting for me at the door when I got off the plane. I was only given my stroller and was told the bag that they took from me at the door would be at the baggage claim. By the time i got my daughter in the stroller and down to baggage claim my bag was gone. There was another black rolling bag that looked just like mine left there and was not claimed by anyone. The agent told me that someone probably took my bag and would call them very soon and report the mix up. I waited a day and heard nothing.

I kept calling and checking in to see the status of my bag and still nothing. They issued me $200 to buy a winter coat and boots and anything I would need to get by until they return my bag. It's now two days later, and they say they have located it. Someone took my bag and continued on to Brazil. Now the airline says they are not responsible because someone took it and it had nothing to do with them. I packed my belongings in my carry on because I wanted to avoid this situation all together. Am I supposed to get the name of the passenger and go after them for theft? What are my options?

A: Remember in the good old days when there were personnel at the baggage claim exits to check your bag tag with your claim check? They were there to prevent exactly this kind of situation. The airlines paid for these people, but they've gone the way of many other niceties of flying.

If your bag is truly lost -- and I'm going to guess that you'll eventually be reunited with it -- you're entitled to up to $3,300 in compensation. But even if it's merely displaced, a recent DOT directive to the airlines states that even in the event of a delayed bag, you should get reasonable compensation for lost items that you cannot do without on your trip or when you get back home. I'm guessing $200 is not enough. You can find this ruling here. You need to show it to Continental and insist that they step up, and also tell them you're reporting the incident to the DOT using this link.

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