Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes - June 18, 2011
"Travelers411" Radio Show - June 18, 2011
Kieth Lockhart conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Fireworks, Picnics, Music, and More from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops at Tanglewood in Lenox Massachusetts; The Perfect Musical Comedy Is Playing at Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Enjoy a Slice of New England Life and History with the Lenox Chamber of Commerce, Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts; Travel Attorney Al Anolik Discusses New D.O.T. Passengers' Rights Regulations.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Kim Noltemy, Chief Marketing Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.tanglewood.org
www.bso.org

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show catch up with Kim Noltemy, Chief Marketing Officer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston, Massachusetts. "Tanglewood is not just another place with outdoor concerts, trust me," says Stephanie. "They have a spectacular agenda of programming for the summer, and they're always adding more."

The lawn at Tanglewood.
The lawn at Tanglewood.

Why should travelers make Tanglewood part of their summer plans? "We have so many great things this season, from multiple James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma concerts to Jean-Yves Thibaudet doing the entire selection of Ravel piano pieces," says Kim. "We officially open our season on June 25 with Earth, Wind, and Fire on their 40th anniversary world tour. Then we have the Mark Morris Dance Company, Yo-Yo Ma, and a bunch of James Taylor concerts. There's only one with tickets left: Friday, July 1 with the Pops. And those are going quickly!"

Music goers will pack-in tents, full picknicks and apparently small children.
Music goers will pack-in tents, full picknicks and apparently small children.

Moving into the classical season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has lined up what Kim describes as "incredible" replacements for its music director, who will be undergoing surgery this summer. On opening night, Charles Dutoit will conduct a program of Italian opera music. "I love Charles Dutoit," says Stephanie. "People think that musicians know the music – why do they need a conductor? They don't understand how much a conductor brings to the performance. And Charles Dutoit is so joyous in the experience that he helps you experience the music."

James Taylor in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in 2011.
James Taylor in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in 2011.

The opera program will be followed by a performance of Berlioz's Requiem the next day. The last performance of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, is by violinist Joshua Bell. Kim says that he's always wonderful to see, while Stephanie adds that he's very cute, too; she's seen groupies at Tanglewood during his previous concerts. In spite of this, Kim says, he's very gracious about greeting fans after the show.

View of the Housatonic River in nearby Glendale, Massachusetts.
View of the Housatonic River in nearby Glendale, Massachusetts.

A highlight of every summer is Tanglewood on Parade. This special day of music features performances by the Boston Pops, BSO, and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. "There are multiple conductors, fireworks at the end, and all-afternoon entertainment throughout the grounds," says Kim. "We have everything from face painting for the kids to musical demonstrations. It's a really special day; people bring in huge picnics and really do it up."

View of the Housatonic River in nearby Glendale, Massachusetts.
View of the Housatonic River in nearby Glendale, Massachusetts.

For visitors who are less interested in preparing such a picnic, Tanglewood offers picnics to go, as well as lawn chair rentals for $4 and up. "You can call ahead and order a picnic, then pick it up and make it really easy for yourself," says Kim. "That's what I would do!" At the other extreme, Kim once saw a group of concert-goers bringing in a whole couch on a wagon before a James Taylor concert.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5839

For more information visit www.tanglewood.org and www.bso.org


Link to this segment

Julie Boyd, Artistic Director, Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA.
www.barringtonstageco.org

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show tread the boards with Julie Boyd, Artistic Director of Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Even though Barrington Stage is at least 150 miles off Broadway, it features New York-caliber performers, designers, and directors. "In Berkshire County, you can find whatever sort of culture you're interested in," says Stephanie.

Performance of the Crucible at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2010.
Performance of the Crucible at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2010.

The company's main stage is in downtown Pittsfield, just blocks from the Berkshire Crowne Plaza where Stephanie's studio is located. The theater has 520 seats and is showing the musical "Guys and Dolls" from June 15 to July 16, 2011. "It's been called the perfect musical comedy, and we think we have the perfect cast for it," says Julie. "It's a big show, with 24 people plus some great dancing.

Martin Rayner and Mark H. Dold in Freud's Last Session at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2009.
Martin Rayner and Mark H. Dold in Freud's Last Session at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2009.

"We think of ourselves as regional theater, not summer stock," she continues. "We have New York designers and New York actors; our designer won a Tony for directing 'Urinetown' a few years ago. So it's top-notch work, and the theater is beautiful." The theater itself is a renovated 1912 vaudeville house that, according to Julie and several reviews from long-legged customers, has plenty of legroom.

Performance of Guys and Dolls at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2011.
Performance of Guys and Dolls at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2011.

Stage 2 is the company's second theater, just blocks away from the main stage. "It has 110 seats that are very comfortable," says Julie. "People love the space because the audience relationship to the actors is so close. We do more popular things on the main stage – shows that will draw 500 people. Stage 2 has newer, maybe more experimental works. We just finished 'Zero Hour,' a one-man show based on the life of Zero Mostel."

Clarke Peters and Nick Westrate in The Whipping Man at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2010.
Clarke Peters and Nick Westrate in The Whipping Man at Barrington Stage. Photo by Kevin Sprague, copyright 2010.

Next up on Stage 2 is the play "Going to St. Ives" by Lee Blessing, which opens June 22, 2011. It's about two women: the mother of an African dictator and an English opthamologist. "Each woman wants something from the other," Julie explains. "It would work on the main stage, but it might get a little lost." After that is "The Best of Enemies," a world premiere by the author of "Freud's Last Session," which will run from July 21 to August 6, 2011.

Related Photo Galleries:
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield Lenox in the Fall

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5840

For more information visit www.barringtonstageco.org


Link to this segment

Ralph Petillo, Direcor, Lenox Chamber of Commerce, Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA.
www.lenox.org

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show explore western Massachusetts with Ralph Petillo, Director of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce in Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. "Berkshire County is really in a very reachable spot, close to Boston, New York City, and Albany," says Stephanie. "I suggest taking a romantic stroll around Lenox while you're in the area."

Fire truck parade in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Fire truck parade in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

What's happening this summer? Lenox is kicking off the season with the Tanglewood British Motor Car Show. There will be over 300 English cars, from Rolls Royces to Bentleys to Jaguars, on the grounds for the 3-day Father's Day weekend. The event begins with a block party in Lenox featuring a Rolling Stones tribute band. Visitors who can't get no satisfaction from the event can still catch free concerts in Lenox every Wednesday evening in the park. The series begins the first week of July and runs through August.

Classic British Car Show in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Classic British Car Show in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Of course, Ralph recommends an evening of theater with Shakespeare and Company, which is also based in town. On the afternoon of July 4, actors from the company and community leaders gather to read the Declaration of Independence. And starting July 18, the Berkshire Theater Festival is running an outdoor production of "Snow White" at The Mount, which was the summer home of author Edith Wharton.

Lenox in the fall. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Lenox in the fall. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

The summer ends, but the fun doesn't, with a jazz festival during Labor Day weekend. The second weekend of September will be the 17th or 18th annual Tub Parade. This famed Lenox event does not involve bathroom fixtures, but rather horse-drawn carriages decorated with flowers. "In the Gilded Age, this signified the end of the season, when the rich folk all went back to the cities," says Ralph. "Years ago, small carriages were called tubs. It's becoming a beautiful event and is about to be declared a historic event by the Massachusetts legislature."

Fall foliage in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Fall foliage in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

The fall continues with the 32nd annual Apple Squeeze at the end of September. "This is a slice of New England life that everyone wishes they had," Ralph explains. "It's to celebrate small-town living and living in Lenox. In between the parade and the Apple Squeeze is the Josh Billings Race, a triathlon. This year will be the 35th running. And of course there's always leaf-watching in the Berkshires, which is just a little bit of heaven on earth."

Tanglewood, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Tanglewood, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Despite the town's historical charm, Ralph feels that Lenox is moving smoothly into the future. "There's a rejuvenation of the ambience of 100 years ago with the new technology," he says. "Where else can you come and enjoy the architecture and then listen to the BSO under the stars? Or sit on the steps of a Gilded Age mansion and have lunch? The grace and charm of a bygone era have met with new technology and they're walking hand-in-hand beautifully."

Tub Parade in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.
Tub Parade in Lenox, Massachusetts. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Speaking of new technology, Lenox is a HalfTix location for the arts in Berkshire County this summer. This means that visitors can come to the Legacy Room of the town library between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a chance at half-price tickets. Seats are available at cultural events from the Berkshire Theater Festival and Colonial Theater to the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and Tanglewood. "You can get half-price tickets to the show on the day that you come, just like the booths in New York," explains Ralph.

Related Photo Galleries:
The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield Barrington Stage in Pittsfield

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5841

For more information visit www.lenox.org


Fun Facts:

Edith Wharton's maiden name was Jones. The phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" actually refers to her family.


Guests Include:

Kim Noltemy, Chief Marketing Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
www.tanglewood.org
www.bso.org

Julie Boyd, Artistic Director, Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA.
www.barringtonstageco.org

Ralph Petillo, Direcor, Lenox Chamber of Commerce, Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA.
www.lenox.org

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney, San Francisco, California, USA.
www.travellaw.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show discuss the changes to travelers' rights this summer with Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney based in San Francisco, California. "I'm somewhat excited about the new travelers' rights regulations," says Al. "I'm an attorney, so I'm allowed to use disclaimers in what I say. The regulations are the biggest change since deregulation in 1978 – that's the good news.

Welcome sign at Heathrow airport.
Welcome sign at Heathrow airport.

"In the 'well, you could have done something else' category, the new regulations don't take effect until August 23, 2011, when the summer is basically over," he continues. "And it's during the summer that there are more travelers, so you have more overbookings, lost bags, and more." Still, Al notes that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been making some positive pre-emptive changes in passengers' rights of late.

Heathrow Airport's terminal 5.
Heathrow Airport's terminal 5.

What are the new rules? Airlines now have to cover the contents of lost baggage. "Airlines used to have all these disclaimers about what they would not pay if they lost your luggage," explains Al. "They've raised the limit over the years, so you can get up to $3300 if your bag is lost. But they put in so many disclaimers – they wouldn't cover electronics, medication, work papers, heirlooms, currency, gold, and more – that you basically had to lose designer underwear to get up to that limit."

British Airways gate in Heathrow Airport's terminal 5.
British Airways gate in Heathrow Airport's terminal 5.

On international flights, the rules remain largely the same. "You basically get nothing internationally," Al warns. "They pay $9.07 per pound." He cautions travelers whose baggage has been lost to keep an eye out for restrictions. "Airlines may still send you a letter saying they won't cover certain things," he adds. "If this happens, you can sue them in small claims court for fraud! Not only did they not pay you, but you should get extra because they deliberately disobeyed the DOT. They should know better – and yet they're still sending those letters."

Luggage backup as a result of a winter blizzard at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, USA.
Luggage backup as a result of a winter blizzard at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, USA.

Another change set to take effect on August 23 is that airlines must refund the baggage fee on lost luggage. "I'm amazed this took a federal mandate," says Al. "I know how upset everyone is about luggage charges. 50% of airlines' increased revenue in the last 6 months has come from fees. And this new law says that if they lose your luggage, they have to give you back that fee! This should have been common sense, but at least it will lessen the animosity."

Continental Presidents club.
Continental Presidents club.

Stephanie thinks the next move should be toward refunding tax on unused airfares. "If you buy a nonrefundable ticket and don't take the flight, why don't you at least get the tax back?" she asks. "You're paying a tax on a service you never got." This issue is not addressed in the latest round of regulations, but Al suggests contacting members of Congress and ask that it be brought up in the next round.

Newark Airport's Continental Airlines Reaccomodation Desk for stranded passengers.
Newark Airport's Continental Airlines Reaccomodation Desk for stranded passengers.

"If they could just rule that airlines have to give back your money when they lose your bags, we can likewise tell them that because they're not paying tax when they don't fly you, they can give that money back to the consumer," he says. "In the next round of consumer protection regulations, the DOT can make these changes." This is a concern for many travelers, since nonrefundable tickets tend to be the best airfare deals.

Dublin Ireland's Airport Terminal 2.
Dublin Ireland's Airport Terminal 2.

Given heightened security concerns during the busy summer travel season, Stephanie wonders whether the security questions at check-in really matter. "You're often asked whether you packed your bags yourself or whether anyone else has had access to your luggage," she points out. "You probably say no, you packed and carried it. People often forget that they called the bellman, who took the luggage down a different elevator, or that they checked the bags with the bell captain. Then they might have taken a taxi or limo to the airport – you get in while the doorman oversees the luggage going into the trunk."

Dublin Ireland's Airport Terminal 2.
Dublin Ireland's Airport Terminal 2.

This is a valid concern, as even suitcases with TSA-approved locks are not totally secure, according to Al. "You can get into a bag with 3 TSA locks on it within 5 seconds, take out watches, passports, or whatever, and close it up again," he says. "You'd never know it was open, and it goes on its way. You don't even know when you've been hit – if it was the bellman, the airline personnel, or the cab or limo driver. Any bag with a zipper can be opened with a pen from the hotel and closed again with the lock still intact."

Luggage backup as a result of a winter blizzard at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, USA.
Luggage backup as a result of a winter blizzard at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, USA.

Should passengers explain to security personnel that their luggage has been handled by others? "The problem is who you tell that to," says Al. "If you tell someone domestically, nothing is going to happen. If you tell Israeli security that your bag has not been in your possession the whole time, they're going to spend some time searching that luggage. Basically, you should think twice about checking anything with a zipper."

Lufthansa airplane arriving in Dublin Ireland.
Lufthansa airplane arriving in Dublin Ireland.

One change that's not in this round of regulations is the new policy of measuring suitcases implemented by many airlines. "Many people pack one larger suitcase, rather than taking two and being charged for both," explains Al. "The maximum size has always been 61 inches. But now they're measuring. Again, 50% of airlines' increased revenue in the last 6 months has come from 'gotcha' fees. So this means they're measuring the wheels on the bottom and the straps on the sides and top. Suddenly you're just over that 61 inches.

Charles De Gaulle Airport Paris France.
Charles De Gaulle Airport Paris France.

"Southwest is the worst; they only allow 61 inches, while everyone else allows 62 inches," he continues. "But on American, it's $150 extra each way because now they've included your wheels in the measurement. And all because you took the larger suitcase so you didn't get socked with $25 each for two smaller ones! The lesson here is to read the rules for each carrier. But there is competition, and if someone is doing a better job competing for your business, maybe that should be part of your consideration of the total price of traveling to your destination."

JetBlue airplane at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport in Florida.
JetBlue airplane at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport in Florida.

Stephanie's final concern is what she considers discrimination against tall people. "I often choose business class on long-haul flights because I haven't done anything for which I need to punish myself," she says. On one recent trip, extra legroom seats cost $200 per seat each way, just for seats that, as Stephanie puts it, "we could actually fit into." What's preventing a class-action suit against the airlines for this?

Houston Texas' George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Houston Texas' George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

"This is kind of tough because the equivalent is of-size passengers," says Al. "The ADA does not apply to airlines. And even there, where obesity could be an impairment, there's a limit to what the government is going to direct airlines to do." Again, Al suggests contacting members of Congress and asking the DOT to consider this issue during the next round of travelers' rights regulations. "The DOT has just instituted the broadest change since deregulation," he continues. "Get your congressional reps to tell the DOT that there has to be a certain amount of accommodation."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5842

For more information visit www.travellaw.com


Travel Tips:

Many budget European carriers, like RyanAir or EasyJet, allow passengers only one carry-on (compared to the one carry-on plus personal item that's standard on many other flights). To get around this, Stephanie suggests making a purchase at the airport. "Buy anything at the airport, ask for a shopping bag, and put your things in there," she says. "They don't want to impinge on the sales of stores at the airport, so you usually won't be bothered."

St.Patricks Day Hats for sale at a gift shop at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 in Ireland.
St.Patricks Day Hats for sale at a gift shop at Dublin Airport Terminal 2 in Ireland.

Guests Include:

Alexander Anolik, Travel Industry Attorney, San Francisco, California, USA.
www.travellaw.com

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