Q I had a couple of hours before my flight and desperately wanted to watch a big basketball game. So I waited near the airline's airport lounge until I saw a friendly looking guy about to enter and asked if I could be his "guest." Is there any rule or "law" against gaining entry to an airline lounge using this method? Other than getting kicked out, what's the risk?

A I'm pretty sure it's against the spirit if not the letter of airline rules to invite a guest that you don't know. United Club membership rules state, for example, that you must "accompany" your guests while they visit. And I imagine if an employee saw you lurking outside the club room door they'd get suspicious. You're not going to get arrested. But your "host" might lose his membership if either of you is caught.

Q My wife and I need to attend a wedding later in San Jose, traveling from Chicago via Reno. For the first leg, I'm using frequent-flier miles on American Airlines, and from Reno to San Jose I bought a ticket on Alaska Airlines. In Reno, do I need to retrieve and recheck my bags with Alaska or can they be checked through to San Jose even though there are two different carriers are involved?

A It looks like you've booked two separate fares. Although American would normally "interline" your bag with Alaska had you bought a single fare from American with a connection from one airline to the other, in this scenario you'll probably have to collect your bag, recheck it, and go through security again.


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Might I suggest that you consider sending the contents of your bag ahead by FedEx Ground? In many cases it's cheaper than paying two separate checked bag fees round-trip ($25 each way, each flight for a bag weighing under 50 pounds). Just put whatever you need in a sturdy box (there's no need to ship your suitcase itself) five or six days ahead of your arrival. Have it sent to a friend's or relative's home or office, or to your hotel with instructions to store for your arrival.

Q I will be taking a trip from St. Louis to Rome on Delta. Flights from Atlanta to Rome are somewhat cheaper than from St. Louis to Rome. I can drive to Atlanta in less than 12 hours but would like to use a rental car rather than drive my own and pay parking for a week. Are there any car rental agencies that will allow pickup at one airport in one state and return it at another airport in another state?

A Most -- if not all -- agencies will allow this, for a price. Hertz and Enterprise are charging around $200 for one day, including tax, for a pickup at St. Louis Airport and a drop-off at Atlanta within 24 hours. It's possible it might not cost nearly that much, though -- Alamo shows a quote of $50 for one day midweek for the same scenario. Though I'd call ahead after booking the reservation to ensure that there's no crazy hidden fees. But if you're going to spend $200 plus gas and tolls, why not just fly?

Today's column comes from George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com.