If you’re like us, we travel…we’ve pretty much seen it all while we have traveled.
Now that Spring has Sprung and Summer is just around the corner, the indicators are that traveling, Summer 2013 will be more expensive.
What’s new right? Well, in the travel industry, much is new. First of all, there have been mega mergers that are now in full-swing and others that are in their fledgling state. According to ABC News, mergers which yields less competition equals higher fares and more fees. Unless you’re that man from China who managed to dress himself in just about everything he owned, including 60 shirts and 9 pairs of pants to no have to pay some of those airlines ridiculous checked bag fees.
FEE FEE FEE
Pay attention to the fine print on airline websites!
We like to research flights before we fly. Yes we are frequent flyers of the cheapest fare
but we still look for best routes and flight times…and we also have our favorite carriers (although some of our preferred are treading on thin ice) and will book with th
em if possible. We still like to get our air miles, even though they are worth much much less these days. We will discuss this in a minute.
Now, back to all these fees. All one has to do is search major fare search engines like Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline or Expedia, type in your needs and you’ll get a plethora of results. Depending on the service you are using, you’ll usually see the cheapest first. We think most default to that. But don’t be fooled! Cheapest fares don’t always mean your out of pocket expense won’t exceed what you might have paid on another airline that has lower fees. These cannot and should not be overlooked. You must read the fine print on all airlines fare offers BEFORE you book. Case and point…
We had a friend who wanted to fly from NY to Chicago. He did his search on one of the servers mentioned above and got several hits. One airline was by far the cheapest. Almost too good to be true. This particular airline has been popping up on several airlines search engines as the “lowest fare” and rightfully so. Our friend, booked on this airline as he was strictly on a budget. Luckily (depending on how you look at it), he was talking about his trip with his sister who just happened to have flown on that same airline a few weeks prior. “She started laughing”, he said. “She immediately told me that I should check any bags I had online prior to getting to the airport to avoid very high bag check fees.” He did so, paying a modest $25 for a size of an overhead roller bag. This particular airline charged for any kind of carry on. “The closer you got to the plane, the more expensive the checked bag fees got…it was unbelievable!…if you had to check your bag at boarding it could be as high as $125 per bag, no matter the size!” Unfortunately, the fun doesn’t end there.
FLIGHTS, ROUTES AND HASSLE
Our friend also pointed out that although his flight did get him to ORD (Chicago), his plane was not direct by any means. He first had to fly to Florida, change planes and then lay over for 1 hour before re-boarding to continue his itinerary to ORD. He eventually got there and swore that he wouldn’t fly with that particular airline again. He actually did though…he had to get back home. And of course, had to check his bag like he did before, on line, to avoid all those fees. Beware! Beware…BEWARE!
According to ABC Fee Bundles are where it’s headed this summer. American did this last month with its Choice Essential and Choice Plus options (airlines love buzzwords like “choice”), which provide such options as early boarding and a free bag. Delta has something similar with its Lift and Ascend programs, which also began in December. Both can be great for frugal-minded business travelers who want some of the comforts of business class without the steep price tag.
SUMMER IS EXPENSIVE
Yes, it is. And it will be this Summer. If you want to circumvent that and you can travel before, you might have some time to book. Just don’t expect any discounts when all those hormone-enraged college students hit their favorite destinations for Spring Break.
BEST TIME TO BOOK AN AIRLINE TICKET
According to SmarterTravel.com, the best day and time to book a domestic airline ticket is, Tuesday around 3PM EST. How do people get these figures?
DON’T BOOK LATE
Summer travel won’t get cheaper the closer it gets to Summer. Remember be sure to buy you air ticket at least 21 DAYS Prior to departure. Inside 21 days you will pay dearly. One week prior and it will be 3X what it was previously.
SPRINGTIME FOR EUROPE
Spring is a great time to go to Europe because the weather’s good and you can save a couple of hundred bucks over summer. Rule of thumb: peak pricing typically kicks in around May 15.
KNOW YOUR INTERNATIONAL GATEWAYS
Speaking of Europe, consider making Dublin, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid, London, or Vienna your arrival city. These European gateways are served by major carriers from both sides of the Atlantic, and that generates enough competition to keep prices under control—relatively speaking. Or, fly a lesser-known carrier hungry for your business. Consider, OpenSkies. Find out which international carriers fly directly to their home country from your nearest international airport, and then follow the cheap fares. For instance, Boston’s Logan International, generally offers great prices to Ireland because it’s served directly by Aer Lingus. Again, it’s all about the competition.
CONSIDER GOING DIRECT
While we primarily use Kayak and all the others listed above, remember that there are a few airlines that do not offer fares on these sites. One is Southwest. And that’s a biggie! Southwest still doesn’t charge for up to 2 checked bags. Consider that a round trip flight on say, American Airlines for the same two checked bags would be $65 each way, totaling $130.00. That’s a lot more added to your ticket price, isn’t it?
Stuff, pack but it has to zip in a 1 Quart Bag for TSA to be happy.
The TSA is constantlychanging the rules on carry on liquids. One rule that has not changed is that all of your liquids you are bringing on to the plane must be in a 1 Quart Ziplocbag. And they all must fit inside that bag and zip. Don’t be stupid and have a ton of travelers behind you annoyed with you by having TSA confiscate your expensive face cream, sun tan lotion, or even tooth paste. You won’t be able to argue with them and ignorance is not a defense.
Yes, many airlines like Spirit charge out the wazoo for any kind of carry on. The link we just mentioned, notates that these are the fees if you do it online, they get higher as you ignore and wait until you get to your plane. Remember our friend?
American Airlines also has gotten stricter on the size of bag you can bring on. Ever seen those little metal boxes at the plane entrance? Well, gate agents for American have gotten very good at spotting most potential over-sized bags and WILL ask you to make it fit. If it does not, they will make you check it. You won’t get charged, but you will have to wait for it at your destination’s bag claim, delaying your trip, sometimes considerably.
MIDDLE SEATS – THE BANE OF ALL TRAVELER’S EXISTENCE
Yes. We all know this. And as the bean counters at all the airlines have also surmised, you will pay to NOT have that dreaded middle seat. As most of our travelers are over 6′ tall, we understand your pain. The seats have obviously gotten smaller and narrower. So, airlines like United and Spirit give you an option to pay to insure you don’t get it. Most of these fees start at $15 per flight. Some think this is money well spent.
We don’t recommend this. But if you’re not sure about your travel plans but needed to book to insure a price you can live with, get it. Just read the small print on this. If you have to cancel you better have a good excuse that falls under the guidelines (small print). Remember, these underwriters have done their research. You do yours.
CHECK IN ORDER/PRIORITY CHECK IN
Some of our travelers are premiere flyers. Good for them. But some are not. And here’s the deal on that.
Check in right at the 24 hour mark prior to your departure time for Southwest. You probably won’t have to check your bag. Get a mid “B” or “C” on your ticket, and you might. If you are checking in a few hours prior to your flight and will be under a time constraint at your destination, consider paying a few bucks for priority access and you won’t have to check your bag. You’ll board early and won’t even have to be stuck with a middle seat. Most Southwest flights are booked solid. Board late and you’ll have to suffer.
American and United…and most other airlines:
Flying Economy can be hard on your legs
Doesn’t matter what time you check in. Just make sure you have a seat assignment and you can usually do this when you purchase your ticket. Make sure you check this and click on the seat area you want. Also, at that time, you can decide if you want that added leg room or seating towards the front (with an extra fee). Don’t know what seat to get, go to Seat Guru, other travelers have assessed which seats are best on most planes in the world. They even compare various ways to fly and the amenities available to you on those flights. Here’s an example of “Long Haul Economy Class Comparison of Flights”…Already done for you.
FLIGHT INTERNET ACCESS
Some airlines like American, Delta, Alaska and Air Tran offer in flight internet. You will pay but if your flight is over 4 hours, you might want to do it. We don’t think you can Skype but you can Facebook and Tweet…or actually work. Expect most airlines to follow suit. This is the wave of the future. And we think it’s WAY better than having in-flight phones. Imagine this now…There are now ways to purchase your internet time prior to flying. Gogo Air is one of those offering to save you money for the convenience.
Pay for the service but be entertained without kinking your neck.
The first kitchens preparing meals in-flight were established by United Airlines in 1936. They reached their Heyday arguably in the 1960’s. Since then, the “meal” has dwindled to a rarity. Be lucky you get nuts. Frankly, the dreaded in-flight meal was a lucky strike in our book. Bring your own meal and forget it. If you did forget to bring your meal, one can still buy one for a modest price on most airlines and flights usually over 2.5 hours.
Amazing Waiters travel tips
BE A GOOD TRAVELER
You are not entitled. If you take the mentality you will be hassled, jostled and treated like a passenger on a New York Bus, you’ll be fine. Everyone is in the same “boat” and you got what you paid for. You are still traveling on the fastest mode of transportation or you would have chosen something else. Be kind. Everyone is trying to get somewhere. Instead of getting irate, be amused. People are weird.