Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

WestJet launches more flights to Thunder Bay

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Airlines grow in no small part because of the number of different destinations they serve.

The airline brand gets known in each market and is seen as a big player in the industry based on new routes that are added.

WestJet was already seen as a major competitor to Air Canada out of Winnipeg with its service to so many other cities in Canada.

When WestJet launched its regional brand, Encore, a year ago, the questions I posed related to when Winnipeg would be placed onto its expansion agenda.

Well the answer is here, as WestJet launches its twice-daily service to Thunder Bay, a city that has also been favoured with four daily flights to Toronto. This will provide more connection possibilities for us as well.

WestJet may not yet be seen as a worldwide player of consequence. But with its many recent interline partnerships with international airlines, even though it offers few of its own overseas flights, its perception as a major airline player is growing with each announcement.

From its early start as the little engine that could, the airline has not only weathered many economic storms but has grown stronger and stronger as others have failed.

Other more serious questions have also populated my emails this week.

Question: In 2008, I was diagnosed with lymphoma.

I went through a regimen of chemo and was declared to be in remission. According to what I was told at the time, I could not get travel health insurance until three months after I was considered to be in remission.

I thought after three months, my pre-existing condition was considered erased from consideration.

Recently I was told that if push came to shove, and I was to become ill on a trip, my health insurer would probably refuse to cover my expenses on the basis of my pre-existing condition. Is this true?

Answer: When you apply for your policy, it is vital all information is provided honestly and completely, even to the point of meeting with your physician to complete the form.

While I warn about this on a regular basis, it will always bear repeating.

Insurance companies have the right to request all relevant information from your doctor, even entries that were made by him or her that did not lead to any action. That information may be important from the insurance company's perspective.

Insurance companies have no hesitation in refusing coverage in advance if they feel the risk factors are too high.

All too often, clients feel perfect after a recovery and meet normal conditions for pre-existing coverage. But when the information is reviewed, it may still not satisfy the insurance company, even if the recovery time frame falls within what is usually satisfactory.

Therefore, it is only your absolute honesty, and their approval, that will insure you are covered.

This entire area of travel coverage is fraught with financial peril, and you need to do everything possible to feel satisfied you will be protected before you consider serious venturing outside of Canada again.

At the same time, insurance companies make money by selling policies, not refusing them. In most cases, with the appropriate information and analysis, you will be approved and properly covered.

I have become very frustrated of late with the many hotel taxes and resort fees that are added on to room nights across the world it seems.

Question: I don't use the resort facilities when I travel to places such as Los Vegas, yet I am forced to pay resort fees.

On top of that, seemingly hidden hotel tourism charges and taxes are separate over and above the normal national government taxes one usually expects to pay.

Is there no end to this practice, and why is it seemingly getting worse?

Answer: Jurisdictions across the world have found it much more convenient to charge unwitting travelling visitors than raise taxes locally that will often be met with fierce resistance.

While the resort fees are a complete subject unto themselves, the tourism-promotion fees and similarly related taxes are so common around the world those who have not got into the game are sure to enter sooner or later.

Those that are in it are finding they can raise the fees as high as they like with no negative consequences.

Perhaps the worst example of this comes from France, where the room hotel tax is set to jump from 1 1/2 euros to eight euros (approximately $11), a five-fold per night increase.

These fees exist all over Canada as well, and are a major source of revenue for each city or province, who justify the fees as a lever to promote tourism, arguing in the end more jobs are created.

Resort fees truly are a scam that irritates most travellers, since it is only the property itself that gets to hide its real nightly costs under the mask of these ridiculous hidden charges.

Very often, conference organizers are able to negotiate these fees out of the nightly room charge because of the volume expenditures being made on food and beverage for their delegates.

You and I, on the other had, are stuck with paying them.

Luckily, a number of properties around the world are actually gaining clients by advertising no-resort-fee policies.

 

Forward your travel questions to askjourneys@journeystravel.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 E5

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