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The Power of Social Media to Fix Air Travel Problems

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When Irene Liu, PR manager for Seabourn Cruise Lines (our fave cruise line, by the way) planned a trip from her home base in Seattle to Miami, she used Alaska Airlines miles to fly on American Airlines. There was a miscommunication between the two airlines, and when she tried to check in for her flight online 24 hours before departure, she was told to do so at the airport. Red flag! Of course, then and there she should have called either or both AA and Alaska ("lesson learned," says Liu in retrospect). At the airport, there was no seat for her. Trip aborted.

But the good news is that Alaska Airlines took responsibility, in part thanks to the power of Twitter, using Alaska's Twitter account. Alaska deposited 40,000 miles into her frequent flyer account, and reimbursed her for non-refundable ground expenses in Miami.

So two lessons: if you can't check in online before your flight, something's amiss. Don't deal with it when you get to the airport. And second, use Twitter to rectify problems after they occur.

Related: How 10 airlines work with Twitter and how we'd grade them

Above image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit George Hobica's profile on Google+

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Domestic Fare of the Day: Atlanta to San Juan, PR $292 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

Fly nonstop from Atlanta to San Juan, PR for $292 round-trip, including all taxes, on Delta Air Lines.

Searching Delta.com, we found seats departing ATL on Thursday, November 6, returning from SJU on Wednesday, November 12.

Other dates are also available for travel through March 4, 2015, excluding peak holiday periods.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: San Francisco to Seoul $673 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

From Singapore Airlines, fly nonstop from San Francisco to Seoul for $673 round-trip, including all taxes.

We found seats departing SFO on Thursday, October 21, returning from ICN on Friday, October 31.

Other dates are available for travel Mondays through Thursdays, as well as Sundays, departing through November 13.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Air New Zealand Sale from Los Angeles & San Francisco

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

Save on flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New Zealand with the current sale from Air New Zealand.

Sale includes travel to Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Hamilton, Hokitika, Invercargill, Kaitaia, KeriKeri, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Paraparaumu, Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo, Tauranga, Timaru, Wanganui, Wellington, Westport, Whakatane, and Whangarei, with a free stopover in Auckland.

Fares are valid for travel from May 1 through June 8, with slightly higher fares available for travel from October 19-31, and from January 25 through April 30.

Tickets must be booked by October 1.

Los Angeles to Auckland $1,198 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes

San Francisco to Auckland $1,198 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes

Los Angeles to Christchurch $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

San Francisco to Christchurch $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

Los Angeles to Dunedin $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

San Francisco to Dunedin $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

Los Angeles to Nelson $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

San Francisco to Nelson $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

Los Angeles to Rotorua $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

San Francisco to Rotorua $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

Los Angeles to Wellington $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

San Francisco to Wellington $1,198 round-trip, including all taxes

Auckland image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Baltimore to Las Vegas $195 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

Still available! Fly nonstop from Baltimore to Las Vegas for $195 round-trip, including all taxes, on Southwest.

We found seats departing BWI on Tuesday, October 21, returning from LAS the following Tuesday, October 28.

Other dates are also available for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in September and October.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Holiday Fare of the Day: New York to Beijing $794 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

For travel over the week of Thanksgiving, fly from New York to Beijing for $794 round-trip, including all taxes, on United.

We found seats departing LGA on Friday, November 21, returning from PEK on Saturday, November 29. Outbound flights connect via Chicago, with return flights connecting in Washington Dulles, though connections may vary depending on travel times.

Fares may be slightly lower ($780 on Delta) for other dates through early December. Visit our fare page for Beijing PEK for a complete look at current finds from all over the US and Canada.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Whatever Happened to Those Folks Who Checked Bag Tags?

By George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog

When I was a kid, back when everyone checked bags because there were no overhead bins at all (just racks for the coats and pillows, if you recall), there'd be someone at bag claim whose sole job it seemed was so compare your bag check tag with the claim check issued by the airline. This prevented honest mistakes, since, as we know, all bags do tend to look alike, especially after a long red-eye flight. It also prevented simple theft. And yes, people do steal bags from airport bag claim carousels.

You only have to do a web search for "theft at bag claim" to see how prevalent the problem is. Just ask Anthony Hargrove, who has been arrested at least 12 times, and convicted five, for stealing bags at Chicago's Midway and O'Hare Airports.

Of course, there are surveillance cameras everywhere in airports, and anyone who does this often, as Hargrove did, will eventually be caught. Eventually. Keith King, 61, and his wife Stacy, 38, were found with almost 1000 pieces of other peoples' luggage in their Waddell, Arizona home, all of them stolen from bag claim areas at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. So apparently security cameras aren't always the answer.

But now it seems that many airports and airlines have done away with these bag check checkers, as a cost cutting measure—which is ironic since they now charge a fee for checking a bag.

True, some airports and airlines around the world still check, if only at random. Recently, I tweeted "dear airlines: please bring back those people who compared bag tags with your bag receipt before you leave baggage claim" and it got nearly 100 "favorites" so I'm guessing I'm not alone in being paranoid about people walking away with my own or someone else's bag, whether intentionally or not. Several people tweeted back, "The best solution is do what I do, don't check bags" but this person forgets that the only reason there's room in the bins for his bag is precisely because some people check their bags.  (By the way, I, too, rarely check bags, but sometimes there's no option, like when the airlines send you back to the check in desk because your bag is one inch over the size limit).

Someone else suggested that bringing back tag checkers would be a "nightmare" and cause jams at the exits, but probably not since bags don't all come out at once. More than one person tweeted back that airlines would start to charge extra for bag tag checking service, but I think they already charge enough to check bags (how typical that after they started charging, they reduced the level of service.) But one person had a good idea: with the advent of electronic bag tags (British Airways and other airlines are experimenting with this idea), people will be able to scan the tag before leaving the carousel area, perhaps going through a turnstile to exit, like on the NYC subway. After all, they'll soon be tagging their own bags at home and scanning their own boarding passes to get on the plane. So why not this, too?

Other stories you might like:

Why the skycap might be your best friend at the airport

12 Tips For Finding Low Airfares, 2014 Edition

9 Ways Air Travel Is Better Than It's Ever Been

Above image via Shutterstock

Holiday Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro $859 round-trip

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, September 15, 2014

For travel over the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, fly from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro for $859 round-trip, including all taxes, on United.

We found seats departing LAX on Wednesday, November 26, returning from GIG on Thursday, December 4. Flights connect via Houston IAH.

Other dates are also available for travel from October through December, with slightly lower fares ($820) in late October.

Visit our Rio de Janeiro GIG fare page for a complete look at current fares from all over the US and Canada.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: Chicago to Bucharest $661 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

From Turkish Airlines, fly from Chicago to Bucharest for $661 round-trip, including all taxes, on Turkish Airlines.

Searching TurkishAirlines.com, we spotted seats departing ORD on November 12, returning from OTP on November 20. Itineraries include an overnight stopover in Istanbul.

Other dates are also available for travel throughout November and again from January through March.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Houston to Los Angeles $153 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, September 12, 2014

Fly nonstop from Houston to Los Angeles for $153 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

Searching USAirways.com, we found seats departing from IAH on Tuesday, October 7, returning from LAX on Saturday, October 11.

Other dates are also available for travel through December 17.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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