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Many travelers have had to cope with at least one of these situations: their flight is delayed, overbooked or canceled. Of course, our clients should know that we’re always watching out for them, assisting them to get on another flight or booking a hotel room if necessary. But it’s also important for travelers to know what rights they have – and don’t have – in these cases.

 

The law does not require airlines to compensate passengers if a domestic flight is delayed or canceled, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, each airline has its own policy regarding what, if anything, it will do for customers. For example, some carriers may offer compensation in the form of meal or hotel vouchers. So it’s always a good idea to ask.

 

In the case of overbooking, federal law comes into play. Before bumping anyone off a flight involuntarily, airlines are required to ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for compensation. If there aren’t enough passengers willing to do so, the airline may bump people based on criteria such as check-in time, fare or frequent-flier status.

 

Passengers whose arrival at their destination is delayed by one to two hours (or one to four hours for international flights) must receive compensation of 200 percent of the one-way fare, up to $675. For a delay of more than two hours, (or four hours for international flights) passengers are entitled to 400 percent of the one-way fare, up to $1,350. In order to get volunteers, airlines are free to offer more money than required.

 

There are exceptions to the rules. Airlines are not required to issue compensation if a passenger doesn’t fully comply with ticketing and check-in procedures, if the flight is unable to accommodate a passenger because an aircraft with fewer seats is substituted due to operational or safety reasons, or if an aircraft with 60 or fewer seats is unable to accommodate the passenger due to safety reasons. And no compensation is required if the arrival delay is less than an hour.

 

Passengers who find themselves stuck on the tarmac for an extended period waiting for takeoff should know that they have rights under U.S. law, too. Airlines operating aircraft with 30 or more seats cannot allow them to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours on domestic flights or more than four hours on international flights without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the plane. Exceptions are allowed for safety, security and air-traffic control reasons. In addition, airlines must provide adequate food and water, ensure that lavatories are working and notify passengers regarding the status of the delay.

Nature provides dramatic scenes everywhere, but few more breathtaking than an epic waterfall. In North America, our default idea of an epic waterfall is Niagara. For decades, these three falls – Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil Falls – have attracted millions of sightseers to the US-Canadian border, and for good reason. Horseshoe Falls alone drops water from a height of 173 feet, spilling 600,000 gallons of its famed green waters per second. But Niagara is not the only waterfalling game in town. Here are four other cascades that put the “awe” in awesome.

 

Iguazu Falls – The falls at Iguazu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are larger than anything in Niagara, with a height of some 240 feet. Iguazu is interesting as it’s made up of a number of cascades thanks to the rock formations shaping the falls direction, and vast sprays are thrown up as the water collides with them. It’s surrounded by lush, subtropical rainforest populated by tapirs, ocelots and jaguars, along with 2,000 plant species and around 400 types of bird. There are a couple of differences in the experiences you can have in each country it borders. The Argentine side of the falls offers a better chance to get close up to the action, while the Brazilian side is better for looking out over the panorama from a distance.

 

Victoria Falls – There are two names in common usage, the Victoria Falls given by UK explorer David Livingstone to honor his queen, and the indigenous name Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning ‘the smoke that thunders.’ The falls, another UNESCO site, are classified as the world’s largest at 354 feet high; its spray rising to a height of 2,000 feet and can be seen from up to 30 miles away. There have been railways and hotels in the area since the early 20th century, allowing tourism to flourish. The two small national parks on either side welcome thousands of travelers a year in search of the local wildlife such as hippos and rhinos. One of the famous features on the Zambian side is The Armchair, a pool very close to the edge of the falls formed by a rock barrier where brave souls can swim in relative safety.

 

Havasu Falls, Arizona – The striking aspect of the falls, which plunge from around 100 feet, are the vivid colors that can be seen, the bright blue of the water contrasting with the deep red of the surrounding rock face. The color of the water is due to unusually high levels of calcium carbonate and magnesium, and since they originate from an underground spring, their temperature rarely dips below 70F. There are plenty of spots from which to enjoy the views here, including a wide sandy beach, or picnic tables under the shade of the local cottonwood trees. Guided tours are especially popular, leading groups on adventures that usually include camping out near the base of the falls.

 

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia – The falls here are relatively small compared to Niagara and Iguazu, with its two main ones just 225 and 75 feet tall respectively. However, what they lack in height they make up for in beauty, and together with the layered lakes that stack up along the topography, they form one of Europe’s most striking landscapes. Some 16 lakes of varying sizes have formed, and guided tours in English take place every day to help you make the most of your time here. The surrounding national park contains some of Europe’s rarest wildlife, with wolves, brown bears, lynx and wildcats. Again, local guides can help improve your chances of spotting them. You may even be lucky enough to spot a majestic Golden Eagle.

Nothing compares to the once-in-a-lifetime moments you get to experience on a safari, wildlife cruise or national park hike. These moments, like watching a gaggle of penguins swimming in Antarctica, used to be nearly impossible (and expensive), since the areas were widely unchartered and remote. However, now, with more cruises and tours exploring these hidden wonders worldwide, there are more chances than ever to watch wildlife dwell in their natural habitats. For the best viewing, visit one of these breathtaking destinations.

 

Churchill, Manitoba, Canada – Located on the rugged shores of Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba, Churchill is one of the few human settlements in the world that is also home to polar bears. Since they spend most of their summer hunting for food, the best time to view them is during the fall. The optimal way to experience the beauty of these bears is with a custom tundra buggy, which offers once in a lifetime chances to get up close.

 

Chobe National Park, Botswana, Africa – Chobe National Park in Botswana offers truly unspoiled views of Africa’s famed wildlife. On a game drive here, you won’t be met with other jeeps, but instead with views of warthogs, bushbucks, monkeys, lions, leopards and hyenas. A cruise along the breathtaking Chobe river offers a chance to see marine mammals like hippos and crocodiles.

 

Antarctica Peninsula – Although it may be void of any human life, Antarctica is home to one of the largest populations of penguins, with over 40 million spread across the continent. Once unchartered, Antarctica is growing in popularity, and more cruise lines are adding the snow-capped glacial peaks and emperor penguin colonies to their itineraries.

 

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – This tiny archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has been an iconic destination for wildlife viewing for over 200 years. Thanks to more cruise lines charting the South American Coast, it’s much easier for anyone to view its many inhabitants, like the island iguanas, blue-footed boobies, giant green sea turtles and sea lions.

 

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States – Aside from spewing geysers, gradient canyons and rushing waterfalls, Wyoming’s crowned jewel is also home to some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife. From black bears to bald eagles to bison and coyotes, this area is rich with a vast array of animals.

Want to increase those likes, shares and comments on your vacation photos this year? Instead of spending a ton on an expensive camera, grab your smartphone and follow these easy tips and tricks from the pros.

 

Brighter is better – Natural light is your friend. To get a great photo, put yourself in a position to get the best shot. If you’re indoors, set up your shot next to a large window. However, if you’re outside in the midafternoon, direct sunlight can be too harsh on your subject. Look for creative ways to shade your subject to keep your photo balanced. You can also aim to shoot outside during the fabled “golden hour”- during sunrise and sunset.

 

Avoid too much zoom – Drastic zooming on any subject can create an unwanted grain to any photo. If you need to zoom, wait until you already have the image you want and then zoom and crop in the editing phase.

 

Focus is key – Your camera’s autofocus could be doing your photos more harm than good. Luckily, most smartphones allow you to pinpoint your photo’s focus directly from your palm. Set up your shot, and then touch and hold the main focal point on your screen until you see the yellow Auto Exposure/Auto Focus Lock appear. Take your photo as normal, and the final image should clearly be clearer.

 

Polish polish polish – Once you’ve selected your favorites, it’s time to make them shine. There are dozens of options and free apps for your phone that will give your photos a professional edge, with VSCO and Snapseed being our personal favorites. Download a few, play around with their options and see which ones you like best. Most times, all your photos need is a little cropping and lightening to make them pop.



 

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