Friday, November 27, 2015         


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It's OK to politely refuse free liqueur

By McClatchy News Services


Question: I've been in a few hotels and restaurants where they greet you or end your meal with a small complimentary glass of the local specialty liqueur (e.g., limoncello, strawberry wine). This was fine back in the day, but now I don't drink for medical reasons. What should I do? Is it better to accept it but not drink it or to refuse? The last time I went to Italy, this happened all the time, and we're going again this summer, so I want to know how to handle it.

Answer: I would refuse, which is better than wasting the hotel's or restaurant's liqueur or having them think you took a tiny sip and hated it. Make sure you say, "I'm sorry, but no thank you" (in Italian, of course). And have an appropriately sorrowful expression. They'll understand.

Q: I always fly Southwest Air into St. Louis. I always go online for my boarding pass exactly 24 hours in advance so I can be in an early-boarding group. When I board and spot an empty seat, I ask the person sitting next to it if I may have it. Invariably, the person is saving a seat for someone boarding in a much later group. This irritates me greatly. Could the Southwest announcers at the gate address this before all passengers board? I'm sure this is a frequent issue.

A: Well, I can't speak for Southwest, but in my opinion, if you're going to have a unique boarding procedure like Southwest does, you ought to enforce it. That means no seat-saving. It's not fair. An announcement before boarding or a reminder from the flight attendant as soon as passengers step onto the plane certainly couldn't hurt.

Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at

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