EWA Travel

Frequently Asked Questions



+ What are the advantages of using EWA to book air travel?

Since 1976, we have been experts at delivering the finest quality, personal travel services and focusing on the delivery of the lowest fares consistent with our clients' needs.

Also, we believe our Travel Counselors are the best in the business. Each Travel Counselor has been hand-picked for their unique destination and airfare knowledge, attention to detail and their client-relationship skills.

We save you time (average three minutes per phone reservation) or you may email us your reservation request and we will quickly respond.

To begin using EWA, simply complete this Traveler Profile Form and give us a call or send us an email.

+ How can EWA provide me with the lowest airfare?

  • EWA uses the Sabre reservation system that includes all the lowest Internet fares.
  • Our Travel Counselors average over 20 years’ experience in delivering the lowest possible domestic and international airfares. They are skilled in carrier selection, split ticketing, hidden city ticketing and other methods to reduce airfares.
  • Ticket ahead. Lower fares have advance-purchase requirements which range from 7 to 30 days.
  • Consider alternative airports, which may necessitate some driving time but save you hundreds of dollars
  • Take advantage of promotional and sale fares.
  • Plan to stay at your destination for the required minimum. For domestic travel, and some international, that means spending a Saturday night. Most other international minimum stays range from 7 to 14 days.

Additional suggestions:

  • If you're able to conform to airline preferences -- such as taking connecting flights or non-stop flights at an inconvenient time -- you may also save money.
  • Some carriers run specials offering companion fares if two people travel on exactly the same itinerary. Budget airlines usually sell more seats at discounts with fewer restrictions.
  • Travel when others are not. When heading to Europe, avoid the popular and expensive summer season. For busy airport hubs, avoid flights there on Monday morning and late Friday afternoon, when most busy.
  • We can deliver special fares for your meeting and convention travel.
  • We have special discounts for Shuttle and other travel.

+ Can I receive boarding passes prior to my trip?

In many cases, yes. Most of the domestic airlines have installed kiosks at or near the check-in counters where you can quickly obtain a boarding pass. All you need do is to swipe a credit card through the machine and perform a quick touch screen procedure.

+ Are low-fare airlines preferable to the major airlines?

There are advantages and disadvantages to selecting the low-fare airlines. If you need basic point-to-point transportation at a low cost, low-fare airlines may be for you. Stipulations for capturing the lowest fare vary by airline. Some have no advance purchase restrictions but provide the lowest fare on a first-come, first served basis. Some will sell on a one-way basis rather than requiring a round trip.

+ What if my fare goes down after my ticket is issued?

Timing your purchase may be difficult as you never know when another fare war may erupt. EWA has an automated fare checker capability for reviewing itineraries in the search for lower fares. If the price of your ticket drops, we will notify you providing you will realize savings of $25 or more after any fees. If you have your ticket, you may exchange it yourself at the airline or send it to EWA where we will exchange it and request a refund. If we have your ticket, we will notify you of the fare reduction, exchange the ticket and request the refund.

Suggestions: Sometimes it's difficult to know when to purchase your ticket. If you wait another day, the fare may go down! Generally, however, if the price is reasonable enough and your plans require firm reservations, it's wise to purchase right away. You'll then have a reservation booked according to a certain fare basis. If the price goes down, we can reissue your ticket for the lower fare applicable to that fare basis. Of course, you'll pay any applicable fees. However, if you had waited, there may be no seats allocated to that low fare.

+ What are consolidator fares?

A consolidator is a firm that buys excess seats from international airlines or has a special contract based on volume. The consolidator then resells tickets to travel management companies like EWA. Consolidators carry inventory risk as the airlines require them to sell the seats or forfeit the price paid for them. Since deregulation permits a wide range of fares on any given aircraft, buying tickets from consolidators, or consolidator-like outlets, can save you money.

EWA works with several reliable consolidators who represent multiple airlines serving many routes. With a consolidator ticket, you'll usually fly on scheduled airlines and know the airline on which you're booked at the time of reservation.

Purchasing tickets from a consolidator may not be the most cost effective for you. With EWA's booking volume to certain destinations on selected carriers, we can obtain consolidator-like contracts. We consider all options (including sale fares listed in our computer reservations system) and provide you with the best price.

There are a few drawbacks to using some consolidator tickets. They include: some will not accept a credit card payment or will levy a surcharge of up to 5%; many have advance booking restrictions and are also nonrefundable; those that are refundable usually take longer to return your fare; they often do not permit accrual of frequent flyer miles; there often is no provision for lodging or transportation on an alternate carrier if your flight is canceled. (However, the airline must eventually fly you to your destination on their aircraft.) Also, many consolidators do not permit seat assignment before check in.

With most low-price tickets, you'll save the most by reserving and purchasing your space in advance. However, airlines often run specials to select popular destinations. These fares may undercut consolidator prices and carry their own advance purchase and day/time restrictions.

+ Are the savings worth the restrictions of nonrefundable fares?

When you call EWA with your travel plans, we will quote you a fare based on your requirements. If you meet the advance-purchase restrictions and you can stay over a Saturday night (for domestic), or remain at your destination for at least 13 days (for international), you will usually qualify for a lower-priced, non-refundable fare. Some of the restrictions that may apply include: advance purchase. Saturday night stay (a few are Friday, Sunday night stay or other minimum stay requirements); no routing changes; no refund of the ticket for cash and fees for changing a ticket.

Suggestions: Most nonrefundable fares are significantly less expensive than full-fare coach. Compare the full coach price with the refund/exchange fee. Will you fly the airline within the coming year? If so, it may be worth purchasing the nonrefundable ticket and be penalized, providing you apply it to a future itinerary.


+ Are there special airfares for senior citizens?

Most domestic and some international airlines provide special prices to senior citizens, although there is no uniformity.

Discount Fares: First make sure EWA is aware of your eligibility. Most senior citizen programs require proof of age 62 or older. EWA will explore the options, although special senior citizen fares are rare but do exist. In researching your options, EWA computes the lowest available regular fare and deducts the customary 10% senior discount. Some airlines permit a traveling companion to benefit from the discount as well. Since they calculate the discount as a percentage, the total dollars off vary as fares change.

Senior Coupon Booklets: Different than discounted fares, the rules with senior citizen coupon booklets vary. Offered by most domestic airlines, the books contain either 4 or 8 coupons. They are often the least expensive way to travel as the savings are greater for itineraries with higher fares. Senior Pass: Offered by some airlines and purchased in advance, a Senior Pass is not as available as a coupon booklet. It's valid for unlimited travel for a certain period. For passengers who travel a great deal, this may be the best option. Travel times and days are limited, and other restrictions apply.

Suggestions: Always alert EWA to your eligibility. Be flexible in your travel plans, so you may capture the lowest fares and optimum discounts.

+ What about Internet fares?

As a Sabre user, we are able to book all Internet fares offered by American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways. This includes published fares that the airlines sell through any third-party Web site and through their own Web site and reservation offices.

+ How do I qualify for compassionate or bereavement fares?

The severe illness or death of a close family member is a traumatic experience. This grief is compounded if you are miles away from your loved one. Many airlines offer discounts for last-minute travel in these situations.

Compassionate fare is to visit a seriously ill family member while bereavement fare is for attending a family member's funeral.

Both fares are non-advance purchase tickets and lower than you would pay if buying a non-advance coach ticket.

For compassionate fare, airlines require: The patient's name. (It should be an immediate family member -- such as a parent, grandparent, child, stepchild or spouse. The fares may also apply for other relatives.) The hospital name and phone number, so the airline can verify admittance. The primary doctor's name and phone number, and a doctor's letter (in some cases). For bereavement fare, airlines require: The name of the deceased (must be a close family member). The funeral home address and phone number. The rules of purchase and the discounts vary. Rather than creating a special fare, some airlines simply waive the advance purchase restriction and provide you with a non-refundable ticket. The special fares are approximately 50% off the walk-up, coach price. You still must abide by the other rules, such as Saturday night stay; other stipulations will vary by airline.

+ Do I need a paper ticket? What if I lose my paper tickets?

Through an IATA mandate in 2008, the industry has moved to 100% e-ticketing. Most airlines prohibit the issuance of paper tickets and many airport personnel are prohibited from accepting paper tickets.

+ When will I receive a refund?

When you cancel a trip, inform us of the cancellation and we will retrieve your record. If your ticket holds any refund value, it will be processed through the Airlines Reporting Corporation. Credit card purchases will be credited to your card; if you paid by cash or check, we'll send you a check when the airline pays us the refund. The process may take from four to six weeks and any applicable penalties will be deducted. If you have a partially used ticket, this complicates the process. The airlines require that we calculate the cost of the portions used, and they will deduct this from their total payment.

Suggestions: Remember that the least expensive airfares are not generally fully refundable, and many are nonrefundable. One-way fares are much higher than half a round-trip fare and often higher than the total round-trip fare. Therefore, many partially used tickets have no refund value.

+ What if I only use part of my ticket?

Turn any unused portions into EWA for refund consideration. You may get a cash refund or voucher valid for future travel.

For nonrefundable tickets: If you request, EWA will turn the unused portion into the airline for a service fee. The airline will also levy a penalty, ranging from $35 to $50. We will inform you if the airline permits voucher issuance in exchange for the penalty fee. They will issue a credit slip for the unused portion and a voucher for the penalty amount if applicable. The next time you make a reservation on the same airline, let us know you have credit toward the current itinerary. When determining the refund for any unused ticket, the airlines generally calculate the fare for the portion used. They deduct that fare from the total paid for the ticket.

For refundable tickets: If you request, EWA will turn the unused portion into the airline for a service fee. Depending upon the carrier, the refund could take from six weeks to six months.

Suggestions: Though a ticket is deemed nonrefundable, it may have value. Do not discard any unused tickets before checking with us. Often your unused portion may have less value than expected, or no value at all.

For example, if you use one way of a low priced ticket, the airline will calculate what the fare would have cost you to fly one way full coach. If this amount is more than, or equal to, the fare you paid no credit is due. Some unused portions of international itineraries cannot be refunded. Based on mileage, international fare construction sometimes permits the addition of certain segments without an extra charge. If you do not use these segments, no refund is due.

It's wise to keep a record of credits or vouchers, with their expiration dates, so that when you reserve your next flight we can help you capture credit toward the itinerary.

+ What if the airline changes my schedule?

Airline schedules change daily and the notification to passengers varies considerably. If we make a reservation for you, via the airline computer system, the airline sends any changes to us. Reservations made directly with the air carrier have schedule changes communicated by phone or mail.

Most schedule changes are insignificant and create little, if any, inconvenience. If a schedule change is significant or inconvenient, you have the right to request changes in the itinerary.

If they cancel your original flight before the day of departure, the airline rebooks you on the next available flight. Should that be unsatisfactory, contact EWA immediately and we will contact the airline. In extreme cases, it's possible to obtain space on another carrier or get permission to refund the ticket and reissue on another airline.

Since the airline may not have reached you, especially in your destination city, it's always wise to reconfirm your reservation a day or two before departure for domestic flights and at least three days before international flights. This will enable you to know of any schedule changes. When a schedule does change, it may mean the carrier has changed aircraft. As a result, you may lose your original seat assignment. Be sure to check with the airline agent.

+ What can I do with an unused refundable ticket?

Each airline, indeed each fare basis, has different rules. Most airlines allow these unused tickets as full or partial payment toward a new ticket on the same airline. Some fare bases do not permit this, but right now they are the exception.

If you cancel before the original departure date, we will contact the carrier to cancel your trip, verify that the ticket is nonrefundable and review the re-use policies. The airline may assess a transaction fee which is due at the time of reissuing even if there is leftover value. If the old ticket has less value than the new, you must pay the difference at that time.

If the old ticket was of greater value than the new, we consult the airline's particular rule. Some airlines save the excess value in voucher form for future use. Even so, there is a transaction fee that's not deducted from the excess value. Other airlines require issuance of a new ticket at a ticketing office. For yet other carriers, the excess value is lost.

Most airlines require that nonrefundable tickets only be used toward the purchase of other nonrefundable tickets; others permit use toward a refundable ticket, but that portion of the new ticket remains nonrefundable.

+ What if I need to change my itinerary after my ticket has been issued?

In today's marketplace, most domestic and international tickets incur a penalty for changes you, as the passenger, choose to make.

There are as many rules governing the ability to change a ticket as there are changes you can make. Each domestic and international fare has rules regulating changes and their attendant costs.

What airlines consider legitimate reasons for changing flights now include only the death of a close family member; your own illness; or the severe illness of a close family member?

You usually cannot change airlines except for the highest priced tickets, and even this is not easy. Changing your destination or day of travel are also very difficult.

A schedule change is easier than a routing change, particularly if you want to travel earlier on the same day. If you're within the ticketing deadline for advance purchase, it's easier to change the return, especially once you fly the outboard portion; however, you'll still incur a penalty. Some international itineraries build in one change as part of the price.

Suggestions: To avoid penalties, try to finalize your travel plans before ticketing. If you need to change your ticket, contact EWA and we'll explain the procedure and fees. If you've already used part of your ticket and find you must change the remainder, call the airline. Provide the agent with the fare-basis code imprinted on your ticket. They will inform you of the penalty and what to do at the airport to make the change.

+ What if I arrive at the airport and the airline says I have no reservation?

When a travel provider tells you that you have no reservation, they call it a "no rec" -- meaning "no record." This may result from human error or from problems with automation. Modern technology allows EWA to generate messages to vendors all over the world by employing one of a limited number of Computerized Reservation Systems (CRS). Confirmation for these services is increasingly automatic but problems do occur.

A "no-rec" can exist even between two very sophisticated systems that are handled through a switching center. Occasionally messages get out of order or lost altogether. This is most likely to happen when a reservation is changed often in a short period. Then the reservation received by the carrier doesn't match the reservation in the CRS where it was originally made. If this happens to you: Check if the reservation is filed with a misspelled name. Try using the "record locator" found on your ticket or invoice. There may be a different locator for the CRS generated message and the airline computer system. Contact EWA. Often if there is a computer problem, we can resolve it by contacting a special office that regulates computer-communication issues.

The following generally applies to U.S., Canadian and western European airlines. Airlines in other parts of the world vary in their treatment of passengers; some offer a fair amount, while others offer no compensation.

Airlines cannot and do not guarantee their schedules. Inclement weather, mechanical problems, air-traffic controller delays are difficult to predict. It's totally up to each airline what they'll do for you if unforeseen problems delay or cancel your flight. No laws govern such matters, although each airline has its own policies.

Delays: If your flight is delayed due to weather or air traffic problems, there's not much you can do. If mechanical problems prevent your departure, you may want to arrange transportation on another carrier, providing you do not incur a cancellation penalty or higher fare. You may request that the first airline endorse your ticket over to another carrier.

Cancellations: If your flight is canceled, some airlines will try to book you on the next available flight while other carriers will compensate you with a free flight coupon.

Missed Connections: If you miss a connection and the missed flight is on the same ticket, the carrier may feel obligated to get you to your final destination.

Baggage: When you turn your bags over to the airline agent, you have entered into a "contract of carriage": The airline agrees to get your baggage to its final destination. Be sure to keep the baggage claim tags along with any receipts for excess baggage fees.


Should the airline not arrange for the next available flight, call us or our 24-hour service to reserve space. You'll still have to stand in line to have your ticket issued, but you'll be guaranteed a seat.

No-rec's occur most often when reservations are changed repeatedly in a short time; try to avoid doing this.

Always reconfirm your reservation directly with the airline 24 to 72 hours before departure. This is essential for international travel where failure to do so often results in cancellation.

Advise EWA of any changes you make directly with the airline. This helps prevent inadvertent interference with your reservation.

Airline Policies: Policies regarding compensation to delayed passengers varies. For mechanical delays, the primary carriers are fairly generous. Generally, they include meals and necessary phone calls to family or business associates. Overnight accommodations will be paid for if required. In the case of a weather delay, you're on your own. Low-fare airlines usually provide few, if any, amenities to stranded passengers. The airlines carry no liability for any financial losses resulting from a delay or cancellation. Upon completion of your journey, if you feel the airline did not service you satisfactorily, you can write to its Consumer Affairs Department.

+ What if I am bumped from a flight?

The following generally applies to U.S., Canadian and western European airlines. Airlines in other parts of the world vary in their treatment of passengers: some offer a fair amount, while others offer no compensation.

Voluntary Bumping: If they oversell a flight, the airline gate agent will ask if any passenger is willing to give up their seat for compensation -- which is normally a free ticket for future travel (a Denied Boarding Compensation coupon is most frequently issued). Before giving up your seat, you may want to check when the next confirmed seat available to your destination is. And, if you must wait for an extended time, will the airline provide free meals, hotel, phone calls and other services?

Involuntary Bumping: The U.S. Department of Transportation requires each airline to provide a written statement to every involuntarily bumped passenger, describing your rights. Infrequent travelers are entitled to cash compensation, based on the ticket's price and length of the delay.

If your substitute flight arrives:

Within one hour of your original flight, the airline is not required to offer any compensation. More than one hour but less than two hours later, the airline must pay you the price of a one-way fare to your destination (not to exceed $200). More than two hours later, or the airline does not make arrangements for you, the compensation is doubled to 200 percent of the one-way fare (to a maximum of $400). You retain your original ticket to have refunded, or have it applied to another itinerary if nonrefundable.


Here is what's required for compensation.

  • You have a confirmed reservation.
  • You meet the airline's deadline for buying the ticket.
  • You obey the check-in deadline, which varies by airline. Sometimes this is measured from the time you reach the ticket/baggage counter; other times it's the gate.

The airline is not required to compensate bumped passengers if:

  • You substitute smaller aircraft and thus diminish seat capacity.
  • The flight is a charter.
  • Seat capacity is less than 60 passengers.

The airlines may offer free future transportation but you can insist on a check if you prefer. Once you accept the free ticket or check, you may not have further recourse. However, if being bumped cost you more than the airline was willing to compensate, you may follow up with their customer service department. If you haven't cashed the check or taken the free flight, you retain the right to take the airline to court for more compensation.


+ Do I automatically know where I am sitting when I make the reservation?

Not necessarily! A confirmed reservation guarantees a place on the plane, but not a seat assignment. That's a separate part of the process that may or may not be possible at the time of reservation.

Most airlines (but not all) allow you to reserve specific seat locations before travel. For most domestic and some international airlines, EWA can view an aircraft seat map to make a selection. For domestic travel, thirty days before travel is usually the minimum window for boarding pass issuance. Issuance of a boarding pass constitutes advance check-in on domestic flights. On international flights, airlines require in person check-in. If there's a security alert, all passengers may be required to check in and present photo ID at the gate.


Often it's not possible to confirm a traveler's first choice of seats. An airline may change equipment on a flight, forcing a seat assignment change. When calling to confirm your reservation, check your seat assignment too.

+ Why can't I always have an aisle seat?

With the majority of travelers preferring certain seats, most domestic and some international carriers allow assignment of seats in advance. The process and restrictions vary by airline. On some carriers (American, Continental, United) seat maps are available a full year in advance. On others, the maps become available nearer to departure.

Not all seats on the plane are open for per-assigned seating. All airlines hold some preferred seats for last-minute reservations and airport check in. These accommodate passengers who must book late and therefore pay higher fares. Other factors limit seat choices.

According to government regulations, airlines may assign exit row seats only to those people deemed willing and able to perform emergency duties. With most airlines this means they assign exit row seats only upon check in. Bulkhead seats are most often used for passengers with special needs or those traveling with young children.


Make your reservation well in advance to maximize choice of seat location. Clearly express your preference to EWA.

When you check in at the airport, check with the gate agent if you wish to improve the location of your seat. Reservations constantly change and something may have opened up.

If we are unable to confirm for you your choice of an aisle or window seat, we will place your request on wait list. In many instances, we are able to clear the seat request.

The level of your frequent-flier membership increasingly affects seat choices. Automation advances allow airlines to offer additional options for seat selection when the frequent flier reaches "preferred" or "premier" member status.


+ How much luggage can I bring on an international flight?

Domestic & International: Each passenger is allowed a specified amount of free baggage. This is determined either by weight or by piece plus the maximum weight per piece, depending on flight origination and destination. The Piece System applies to most international travel between points to/from the U.S./Canada for baggage booked directly through to the passenger's destination. Individual airlines have some notable exceptions. Always contact the airline for specific rules. Free Allowance - Economy Class (Direct international flights, passengers age 2 and over): Checked 2 pieces, with combined dimensions of length + width + height of each piece measured separately, not to exceed 107". Neither piece may exceed 62 inches. Maximum weight per piece: 70 pounds for most airlines and destinations. Check with the carrier to make sure. Unchecked 1 piece, with maximum combined dimensions of 45 inches. It must be stored under a seat or in an overhead compartment. For infants (under 2, who pay 10% of the adult fare) 1 piece, with total maximum dimensions of 45 inches. 1 collapsible stroller. The stroller may have to be checked, unless the airline allows you to store it in the cabin garment bag department. Free Allowance - First and Business Class: Checked 2 pieces, each may be up to 62" and 70 lbs. Carry-On 1 piece, up to 45". Personal Items: Whether flying First, Business or Economy class, you may carry on the following personal items in addition to your one or two pieces: Purse. Binoculars. Overcoat. Reading material for flight. Camera. Infant food for flight. Umbrella. Free Allowance - Weight Method: From points outside the U.S./Canada, the basic free allowance is: For economy passengers: 44 lbs. (20kg). For business class passengers: 66 lbs. (30kg). There are exceptions by airline and/or by country of origin/destination. The weight system may also apply from various destinations to the U.S.

Suggestions:- The rules will vary by airline. If in doubt, check with the carrier. To avoid excess baggage charges, be sure your luggage conforms to the airline's rules. Call the carrier for complete details before packing.

+ How do I deal with excess baggage and special equipment?

If you must take additional luggage which exceeds the free allowance, there are guidelines to follow. For domestic carriers: Excess Baggage

For a piece over the free allowance, the charge is one flat fee if the bag does not exceed 62 inches or 70 pounds. If overweight or oversize, it's double the charge. Many airlines charge one flat fee for the 1st, 2nd & 3rd piece of excess, a higher fee for the 4th, 5th & 6th piece, and still higher for 7 or more. Maximum Excess Baggage Due to aircraft limitations, an airline may restrict excess baggage, accept such baggage on a space-available basis, or refuse acceptance seasonally. Contact the airline for information.

For special pieces, contact the airlines for individual rules and regulations. Generally they will be subject to specified excess baggage charges. Special pieces include: Sporting equipment (or when the baggage exceeds the maximum allowance and includes such equipment). Musical instruments (portable ones generally count as one checked piece, provided they don't exceed 30". Accepted as baggage only upon advance arrangements). Live animals (provided they are in approved carriers). Firearms and ammunition (if they meet certain conditions).

For international carriers: The piece system applies to most international travel between points to/from the U.S./Canada for baggage booked directly through to the passenger's destination. There are some notable exceptions. Excess Baggage Charges: Each piece within 62 inches and 70 pounds: One flat charge. A piece over 62 inches but not exceeding 80 inches with weight up to 70 pounds: Twice the flat charge -- except between Canada/U.S. and Mexico where it's three times the flat charge. A piece whose dimensions exceeds 80 inches and/or weight exceeds 70 pounds: Three times the flat charge up to the first 100 pounds. Each additional 22 pounds charged extra (according to tables in the Worldwide Official Airlines Guide). Check for specific charges for snow-skiing and skin diving equipment, bulky baggage and pets. The Weight System The weight system applies from points outside the U.S./Canada traveling to destinations other than the U.S./Canada. It may also apply from various destinations to the U.S. There are exceptions by airline and/or by country of origin/destination. The basic rate for excess baggage is 1% of the first-class airfare per kilogram (2.2 lbs.). There are exceptions, such as excess baggage from -- but not to -- Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, which is charged 1% of the economy fare per kilogram.


Make sure that both the domestic and international carriers enter all your flights into their records. This shows the complete routing of the bags.

Notify the carriers at least four weeks in advance of the number, dimensions and weight of each piece. Let the airline know you're carrying only personal effects, not commercial equipment.

Try to avoid domestic commuter flights as the small planes often cannot hold any excess.

You may want to have extra tape, string and banding material for repackaging, in case your bags are opened for inspection.

Check the tags on your bags to confirm the correct destination. If you have any problem at domestic check-in, call the international carrier which has the final authority.

+ What should I know about lost luggage?

Baggage Insurance: The maximum amount the airline will pay you for lost luggage is $1,250 for domestic flights and $9 per pound up to $640 for international flights. The baggage notice on your ticket contains important information regarding airline liability. If bags are lost, the airline will either base your compensation on the total actual weight noted at check-in or 70 pounds, the maximum weight allowed per piece.

Damaged Bags: If your suitcase or its contents arrives damaged, the airline will usually pay for repairs. If it can't be fixed, they'll negotiate payment for the depreciated value. Some airlines will refuse liability if the contents of your soft-sided luggage are water damaged. Check the contents immediately. If anything is missing, report this right away. Report damage before you leave the airport. Insist on completing a form. Get the phone number for the local airline baggage services office. If your destination is away from home and your clothing is soiled, request a small cash advance for laundry or dry cleaning services.

Late Check-In for Flights: If you arrive late for a flight, the airlines may require you to sign a Late Baggage Tag. By signing, you accept responsibility if your luggage doesn't arrive at your destination the same time you do. If you're running late, it's safest to bring your luggage to the gate and have it tagged there.

Lost Luggage: If your bag is declared officially lost, you'll need to submit a claim. Some airlines use the delayed baggage claim you completed; others want a new one. Be realistic in valuing contents as airlines will reject inflated claims. Remember they pay on the depreciated value, not replacement value. For expensive items, sales receipts may be required. If the airline provided a cash advance, they will generally deduct this amount from the final settlement. The processing of your claim takes from six weeks to three months.

Security/Health/Travel Insurance

+ How has the Americans with Disabilities Act opened up the world to the physically or mentally challenged?

Most airports now use lift-equipped shuttle buses to ferry wheelchair bound passengers between terminals. Provisions in the Air Carrier Access Act require the purchase of wheelchair lifts for commuter planes within two to four years, depending on the size of the airport. Some carriers have redesigned airport areas to include gate and ticket counters adjusted to wheelchair height. Look for open-captioned safety videos and improved passenger boarding chairs.

Some aircraft have been retrofitted with more accessible lavatories, and plans call for including them in new jets.

Dogs and other service animals are generally carried free of charge if they remain in the cabin with the passenger.

One wheelchair may be brought on board with no charge for excess baggage; if it's collapsible, and there's cabin room, you can store it near the passenger.

Arrangements for animals and wheelchairs must be made in advance and some airlines require completion of a checklist for battery-powered chairs.

Most flight attendants will gladly help mentally challenged travelers with connecting flights. They also will provide boarding and deplaning assistance, dispense oral medication as necessary, help open food packages and identify food items for blind passengers.

Personal attendants whose airfare is paid by the passenger must help with feeding, personal hygiene or emergency evacuation if the traveler is unable to perform these functions for themselves. All these services must be requested in advance.

When checking on a hotel's disabled facilities, call the hotel's housekeeping department. Many U.S. and some international chains have installed ramps, widened doors, improved access to ballrooms and meeting rooms, and set aside special rooms for challenged guests (with features such as expanded bathrooms and remodeled showers with benches). Features for the hearing impaired may include the flashing door-knocker, the vibrating alarm clock and a phone alert lamp switch.

Many major car companies have cars with hand controls. Wheelers Accessible Van Rentals are available at airports in 29 U.S. states. These vans include custom interiors with a lowered floor, a ramp connecting the van's floor and ground, an air-compressed elevator, hand controls, swivel seats and a tie-down system to secure up to three wheelchairs. Prices range from $70 per day (weekly rental) to $109 per day (daily rental).


  • Always alert EWA to the scope and nature of your limitations, especially if you're making plans by phone. This should include anything from dietary requirements to physical assistance and the needs of a service animal. (EWA utilizes a Personal Traveler Profile to confirm client needs.)
  • Arrive at the airport early. Wheelchair travelers will be searched by hand or by hand-held metal detectors. People with braces, artificial limbs, pacemakers, complex hearing aids, metal canes or non-visible items should alert airport security to those items.
  • Be wary of tight connections by allowing ample time to meet flights.
  • If your wheelchair is checked as luggage, reiterate your request to the gate attendant at check in to either retrieve your chair plane side or at the baggage claim area. Put your name and work address on your wheelchair and make sure that baggage handling personnel tag it for the proper city.
  • Clear the trip with your doctor.
  • Purchase additional trip medical insurance.
  • Wear a medic-alert bracelet for chronic medical problems.
  • Learn the foreign name for your medical condition so you may effectively communicate with medical personnel.

+ What travel insurance do I need?

Each traveler has a unique set of insurance needs. EWA recommends travel insurance to help make your trip as worry-free as possible. See Travel Guard Insurance Options.

USAID Contractors

In an international assignment, it's essential to prepare and complete all the documentation successfully. It is also important to keep a grasp of the many details required for your trip. To make things easier, we've compiled some steps to follow as a helpful checklist for international travel management.

If your organization informs you that you will require a work or business visa, determine how long it will take for you to secure it, and what documentation you will need to submit either to your local embassy/consulate of your destination country or to your mission agency's office. Be advised: The process to acquiring a business visa may take up to a year, others only a few weeks.

Nine (9-6) Months Ahead:

Reserve your air transportation. Contact your destination office to determine specifically when and where you should arrive and depart. Contact EWA for our best fare capture service. Secure and confirm your air reservations. Notify your field office of your arrival-departure plans, and secure arrangements for pick-up and drop-off. Apply for your Passport. EWA may provide you with personal assistance in the application process, or you can do it yourself following some easy steps. We have information on the requirements as well as the necessary forms. (Allow four to six weeks from the time of filing the documents to receive your Passport). Retain two photos -- and a photocopy of your passport information page -- and store them separately from the passport itself. (If your Passport is lost or stolen, this will provide proof that your application was approved and you were actually issued a Passport.) Check and verify Visa information. EWA can provide full visa assistance. Seek low-cost accommodations. EWA is available to secure the most competitive rates that meet your budget requirements for accommodations. However, you should contact us well in advance so that we may leverage all options on your behalf. Check immunizations. Call the Centers for Disease Control (404-332-4559) to determine which immunizations are required for your particular itinerary. Consult the nearest International Travel Clinic for medical advice and services. Receive the required immunizations. Make sure to leave enough time in-between vaccinations if multiple shots are required. (This is especially important if you need proof of vaccination to obtain your Visa.) Ask if updated immunizations for diphtheria/tetanus, polio, or measles/mumps/rubella are advised. Depending on the location of your mission field, typhoid fever or gamma globulin (for Hepatitis A) vaccinations may be recommended. Also check if anti-malarial medication is recommended for your destination. If it is necessary, have all your immunizations listed on a card from the World Health Organization.

Six (6-3) Months Ahead:

Begin Visa application. Apply now if you require a visitor's Visa valid for your stay, or if your Visa will serve as a temporary permit until you obtain a permanent one in-country. Submit the signed Passport (with the required photos) and completed Visa applications, as well as the WHO card, as requested. Purchase insurance. Have each traveler check their current medical policies regarding overseas coverage. The policies should provide evacuation services for returning home unexpectedly due to illness or injury. Consider having travelers purchase supplementary travel, accident and sickness insurance, plus evacuation services. EWA has a network of reliable carriers to recommend if you need assistance. With the exception of emergency evacuation coverage, however, policies offered by EWA-acquainted carriers will cover travelers who serve less than one year. If you are serving longer than a year, your mission-sending agency should offer medical coverage, as you likely will not have a policy from another source.

Three (3) Months Ahead:

Research baggage regulations. EWA and/or your designated airline may provide information on baggage requirements and restrictions, such as the maximum free allowance per person and excess fees. Purchase your airline tickets. EWA will provide a timeline for ticket purchases in order to obtain the most competitive fares.

Two (2) Weeks Ahead:

Arrange your transportation to the airport. Make a checklist for items each traveler needs. This should include: an airline ticket; Passport with Visa; vaccinations and WHO card; anti-malarial medication; and supplemental insurance. Notify the field office of your arrival. Make sure someone from the field office will meet you. Have a contingency plan in place if things change.

On Departure Day Review: All the documentation with each traveler. (Passport with Visa; WHO card; airline ticket.) Tag your luggage. (Bright colored tags will help to more readily identify your luggage and speed collection.)