Just had to answer the letter by Emilia Park in your Feb. 21 Travel section about the problems seating her family together [On the Spot, "Getting Seats With the Kids on Flights" by Catharine Hamm].
A couple of observations: First, in the last few years, I have taken at least 10 groups of high school students on cross-country flights for competitions. These groups are always eight to 10 students and never — not once — have I had the slightest problem booking our seats together (and always on United, in fact). But here's the secret: Book far in advance. It's not rocket science. And book directly with United (or whomever) on its website; avoid all of the "we'll find the cheapest flight" websites. Cheap always has a price.
Second, I fly regularly on business. On these trips, I always pay extra for United's Economy Plus seating, with an aisle seat. The extra price is well worth it in terms of my comfort. And I too have been asked to give up my seat so that some family can sit together. And my answer is the same as the person's Park mentioned: Yes, I planned in advance, and yes, I paid a premium for my seat, and no, I will not give up my seat. In fact, I think it takes monumental gall to even ask.
Finally, anyone familiar enough with air travel to read and write to a travel column should be well aware that Thanksgiving is the single worst time to fly. So again, if you must fly at that time, book well in advance. You won't have trouble being seated together.
Hamm's article was interesting, but I would like to comment based on my experiences of traveling domestically and internationally as part of a family of five.
1. Plan ahead and buy your tickets early, then you can pick seats together.
2. Be flexible and focus on getting to your destination.
3. If you are trying to save money and avoid premium seat charges, you do not have to have your entire family sitting together. The parents can split up, with each having a kid or two.
4. Offer to compensate anyone who agrees to change seats to accommodate your family. Buy them a drink, a menu item or pay their premium seat upgrade amount.
5. Finally, the decision to have a family was yours and not your fellow passengers'.
Thanks for making sure the masses know where the remote hot springs are in Idaho and Montana ["Soak It All In" by Joanna Pocock, Feb. 14]. Also for the increase in foot traffic and plastic-water-bottle trash, soon to be part of the experience. Did you do the article so you could be considered unique?
I have been an outdoor educator most of my professional life, both as a teacher and a naturalist. Some places are just too fragile for the increase in foot traffic. Also, there are no park rangers or corporate-managed camp monitors to clean up after the hikers leave.
Human beings are part of nature, not removed from it. People must be taught how to behave and respect our Earth and its gifts before they earn the right to peek into her pristine places.
The environmental grief that could prevail from your decision to report without considering the consequences is concerning.
Use the L.A. Times to teach people how to hike and camp so that the areas they visit remain beautiful and sustainable. Please report responsibly.
Susan R. Davidson
I read Christopher Reynolds' article ["Turkey and Safety Issues," Feb. 14 ] with great interest because my husband and I were directly affected. A few weeks ago we found out from Oceania cruises that the Black Sea cruise from Istanbul we were booked on in September had been canceled and the itinerary completely changed. Oceania, as well as many other cruise lines, have all made the decision to eliminate Turkey as a destination for 2016. I am somewhat ambivalent about this decision, because I think I have a greater chance of being killed by crazy motorists on the 405 Freeway than by any terrorist in Turkey or elsewhere. Yet I did pause when I realized I was a tourist in the Sultanahmet district less than four years ago and was looking forward to seeing the magnificent Hagia Sophia again this September. It is not meant to be, at least not this year.