Spirit, British Airways Restricting Checked Luggage

Travelers flying on Spirit Airlines departing Feb. 10 and beyond should note Spirit's new checked baggage policy.

Each ticketed passenger will be allowed to check only one bag free of charge, as long as it doesn't weigh more than 50 pounds and does not exceed 62 inches in overall dimensions.

Prior to Feb. 10, travelers can still check two bags for free. An extra charge applies for additional, overweight and/or oversized pieces. Items such as pets, surfboards, bicycles and other sporting equipment are not included in the free baggage allowance and are subject to an extra charge.

As far as we can make out from Spirit's Web site, extra bags will cost a whopping $100 each.

Meanwhile, British Airways announced that starting Feb. 13 it would not accept bags weighing more than 50 pounds, even if a passenger were willing to pay extra. We wouldn't be surprised if more airlines attempt to introduce new restrictions and charges for baggage.

Get low-cost calling options to U.S.

Travelers to international destinations often have to pony up some serious cash when they make a call back to the U.S. In general, the lowest rates available are through calling cards, as hotels typically charge exorbitant rates even for local calls.

An alternative is CallingCards.com, a company that provides rates as low as 2.7 cents per minute for calls placed to the U.S. from a foreign country such as France or Spain. The card can also be used for domestic calls starting from 1 cent per minute.

CallingCards.com typically saves customers up to 95 percent on calls back home. The same per-minute rates also apply when placing long-distance calls from a cell phone with a calling card. In addition, with CallingCards.com, travelers no longer need to purchase a different calling card in every country they visit, since the same calling card can be used in up to 50 countries by simply dialing the local access code.

More information about rates and local access numbers is available at or by calling (888) 735-7467.

Travel with portable dialysis machines

Traditionally, patients suffering from kidney failure have to go through the hassle of finding the closest dialysis center at their destination and making sure there is room in the center's existing schedule or forgo travel plans completely and be tied to their own dialysis center.

However, thanks to the development of a small, portable machine, travelers suffering from kidney failure can not only do dialysis in the comfort of their own homes, but continue therapy while on vacation with all the freedom and flexibility to do treatments when and where they want to.

NxStage System One, the first truly portable hemodialysis machine, was recently cleared by the FDA for use at home or on the road. The machine is the size of a 13-inch television set and can easily be packed into a car or taken on an airplane. It doesn't require any special water treatment or electrical setup like other home machines so a trained patient and user can easily operate the system wherever they may be. Since the machine is so easy to use, patients undergo the treatment six times a week for shorter periods of time than with in-center treatments.

More information about System One is available through or calling (866) 697-8243.

American expands meal program

American Airlines ( or (800) 433-7300) started the new year by offering customers new choices in light meals, snacks and bottled water, all of which can be purchased with credit cards, debit cards and cash on board.

From now on, snacks and bottled water will be available on all flights two hours or longer, and the light meals can be purchased on all flights three hours or longer. The new items replace the snack boxes and muffins that were previously offered for purchase on flights three hours or longer.

The changes were implemented based on customer and flight- attendant feedback that customers wanted more choices.

Snack items available for purchase will include GNS Cinn-a-berry Breakfast Blend (dried cranberries, yogurt-covered raisins, cinnamon almonds, banana chips and graham cereal), Mega Bite Snickerdoodle Cookies, Lay's Stax Potato Crisps and Milk Chocolate M&M's for $3 each and Dannon Spring bottled water for $2 each.

The light meal choices vary based on destination, but currently include a breakfast bagel sandwich, club croissant sandwich, Italian wrap, turkey and Swiss ciabatta or Asian chicken salad for $5.

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