When it comes to travel, these tips could prove valuable.

Best way to complain about airline service and get results:

Bob Jones, frugal-travel guru for BookingWiz.com, says the golden rule for complaining about poor airline service is to keep your cool.

After your trip, compose a one-page letter to the chief executive or marketing vice president of the airline. Never send an e-mail — "There's something called the delete key." Explain the incident objectively and include detailed information, such as the flight number and the names of any agents who tried to help you.

Close your letter with two suggestions about how the airline either could have dealt with the situation better or could avoid the problem in the future. Don't ask for compensation, but you might get a voucher as a thank-you.

Best airline: JetBlue.

JetBlue? Yes, despite a service meltdown during last winter's ice storms, budget airline JetBlue is still the best airline buy. It came in first among low-cost carriers in a J.D. Power and Associates study this summer. And it ranked second, just behind Hawaiian Airlines, in the 2007 Airline Quality Rating.

According to the AQR, in 2006 JetBlue had fewer customer complaints, a lower mishandled-baggage rate and better on-time performance than most airlines. Plus, every seat has DirecTV.

Low-cost travel destination: Argentina.

The greenback packs a punch in Argentina. Buenos Aires, the capital city, offers a cosmopolitan atmosphere and affordable luxury. Buy custom-made clothing for a quarter of U.S. prices, or feast on a steak dinner with a bottle of excellent local wine for less than $20 per meal. A weeklong trip for two to Buenos Aires — including plane tickets from Chicago and four-star accommodations in November, an ideal time to visit — costs less than $2,600 through Expedia.com.

Web sites:

Last-minute travel: LastMinute.com.

Using this site is an easy way to get travel deals, whether your trip is in two weeks or in three hours. Search by destination and date, or get a newsletter targeted to your home base.

Travel booking: Kayak.com.

The site is comprehensive, simple to use and compares its results with those of other top sites so you don't have to sift through complex screens.

Credit cards:

Airline-miles card: Citi Premier Pass Elite.

The card costs $75 per year, but it takes only 20,000 points to earn a domestic ticket. And points are easy to acquire.

Travel card: Capital One Platinum Plus MasterCard.

Capital One doesn't pass on the 1 percent currency-conversion fee from MasterCard.


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