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Daniel Zim - Head ShotPeople who love to travel as much as they love their pets face a dilemma whenever they travel by air. They can either board their pets for the duration of their sojourn or they can bring their pet with them. Owners of non-travelling pets have no shortage of local boarding options (there are even Airbnb substitutes like rover.com). But the focus of this column will be on the travelling canine and the type of information that travel agents should provide to clients when such inquiries are made.

Cargo or Carry-on

Checking a pet as cargo can be quite expensive. Depending on the size and breed, prices for shipping a dog as checked luggage can exceed the cost of transporting a human on a domestic ticket by as much as five-fold. Aside from the expense, many passengers are uncomfortable with the idea of keeping man’s best friend in dark, unfamiliar surroundings next to piles of luggage. Additionally, airlines do not offer encouraging words to make pet owners want to check their pet on the baggage conveyer belt. Airline policies typically decline all liability, expressly disclaiming any guarantee that your pet will arrive at its destination safely. And the media strikes fear in the heart of dog owners whenever reports surface of pet DOAs. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Zim - Head ShotStarting September 7, you will be able to board an American Airlines carrier on one of the first scheduled flights in decades to Cuba. For Americans making that voyage, it could remain one of the most regulated, red-tape ridden trips on the planet, despite the Obama administration’s efforts over the last two years to drastically loosen restrictions through executive action. As Congress returns to regular business this week, the House of Representatives will consider legislation that could end the ban on travel to Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Zim - Head ShotTRO is proud to introduce a new column this week: “Ex Bona Fida”. This monthly column will feature lawyers and accounting professionals providing valuable insight into the legal and tax world of the travel industry. Our first column is by Daniel Zim, an attorney specializing in travel law who has worked with such agencies as American Society of Travel Agents, Inc. (ASTA), Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), the U.S. Department of Transportation and state seller of travel programs.

Most law-abiding travel agencies do their best to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Some do not, risking prosecution and hefty fines. Still, others find the right buttons to push and the right people to speak with. One very familiar company with a unique business model may have done just that, receiving what appears to be a waiver of literal compliance with two DOT rules – the code-share and baggage fee disclosure rules.

For years, Priceline has dominated the opaque online travel space, selling airline tickets while withholding from the consumer the name of the carrier, including the schedule and applicable baggage fees until after the consumer makes a nonrefundable purchase. Yet, it is confounding that Priceline is even able to offer these services legally and intuition tells me that Priceline must have obtained informal permission from DOT for its opaque booking practices. Read the rest of this entry »