Here is some advice for anyone flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. If you have booked via Air Canada, or as my family did using Aeroplan points, be prepared to have to travel with United Airlines. Air Canada has a partnership with them and it is not the most convenient arrangement.

On the way to the Windy City we enjoyed a smooth direct flight from Air Canada. O’Hare is far from downtown, so budget $50 for a cab. The return flight had us take an initial flight to Washington’s Ronald Reagan Airport to connect with an Air Canada Jazz flight. When I attempted to do the advanced 24 hour pre-check-in online with United they would not confirm reserved seats, even though our itinerary listed this as being the case. I wasted more than an hour on the phone talking with a call centre in a foreign country and got absolutely nowhere. The gentleman at the other end of the phone did offer me the chance to get those reserved seats immediately – for a fee of $90 US. I refused. Once at the gate, we were taken care of.

What surprised me was the lack of support on the ground in Washington when I asked the gate agent where we had to go to catch the Air Canada flight to Montreal. “Go right and head to Gate 16,” she said. Well, we walked in the direction she told us and found ourselves past the security section and Gate 16 was nowhere to be found. Finally, someone from airport personnel told us we needed to take a shuttle to another terminal and that we did. If Air Canada and United are partners, shouldn’t someone in Washington know to direct folks to another terminal?

Rock of Ages: A recent business trip to Toronto was very brief and regrettably left no time to see one of Mirvish Entertainment Broadway-style stage productions. I hope to be back soon. I did drop by the Mirvish head office and met with communications gurus John Karastamatis and Randy Alldread to discuss their amazing current lineup. Rock of Ages had its Canadian Premiere just a few weeks ago, almost blowing the roof off the historic Royal Alexandra Theatre. This all-Canadian production of the Tony nominated Broadway sensation has been extended until September 5. It stars Montrealer Yvan Pednault in the lead role of Drew and features hit songs from the likes of Journey, Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and many more. Also on stage this summer is the musical Legally Blonde.

After breaking box office records and selling out in record time during its 2005 and 2006 engagements Wicked, the smash-hit musical, will return to Toronto, to the Canon Theatre, October 20 through November 28. Group tickets for the return engagement are currently on sale. Single tickets go on sale Monday June 7. Meanwhile, Billy Elliott the Musical will make its Canadian debut next February. Go to www.mirvish.com for all of the details.

Heading to the Fair: If you are headed to the Cape Cod area this summer, make sure to take in the Barnstable County Fair (www.barnstablecountyfair.org) July 17-24, 2010 in East Falmouth. This season’s theme is “Alive with Fun.” On Tuesday, July 20, the Fair will host the finals for Cape Cod Summer Star, a search contest for the area’s best singing talent. Country music sensation Bucky Covington will return to the Fair on closing night, Saturday, July 24. The Village People, the world’s disco icons, will reprise their standing-room-only 2008 Fair concert with a raucous return to the main stage opening night, Saturday, July 17. For the first time, the fair will present Aussie Kingdom, the only traveling Australian animal education show in the U.S. It showcases fascinating pouched animals (marsupials) including kangaroos and wallabies, along with a collection of colourful Australian birds. There will also be a petting zoo for adults and children; stage and arena shows; livestock exhibits; midway fun; games of chance and craft displays.

Mike Cohen can be reached at info@mikecohen.ca.
Log on to his travel advice files at www.sandboxworld.com/travel.

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