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The baggage "insurance" you've probably never heard about

Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, July 2, 2011

By George Hobica

Airlines are required by U.S. regulations to compensate travelers for up to $3,300 in the event that checked bags are lost or damaged. But that's only for domestic travel. For most international flights, bag liability is limited to approximately $9.07 per pound for checked bags, which is virtually nothing (a 30 lb. bag gets you $270 in coverage; note that some international airlines follow a different convention. British Airways, for example, limits bag claims to approx. $1700). For some people--those traveling with Louis Vuitton trunks, Vera Wang wedding gowns, or simply a lot of expensive clothing--$3300 simply isn't enough coverage, and for almost everyone, $270 is way too little.

That's where something called "excess valuation" (EV) can come in handy, and airfarewatchdog considers it a must for international travel. Never heard of this? Well, the airline rep checking your bag at the airport isn't likely to tell you about it unless you ask. So let us explain.

Many airlines will cover an additional $1700 of your luggage and its contents beyond the Federally-mandated $3300 (they don't call it "insurance" because they're not insurance companies, they're airlines) if you declare excess value when you check your bags, the cost of which varies from one airline to another--usually for just $10 per $1000 of coverage, although United charges five times what most airlines do (see chart). Depending on airline, coverage may only cover you in the event of total loss, not merely damage, to the contents and not to the bag itself.

Some international airlines also sell EV coverage, but their web sites, the most readily available source of information, are either vague or woefully out of date, and good luck calling their toll free reservation numbers to get clarification. Your best bet is to inquire at the airport check in counter or a local sales office before your trip. One international carrier that is more straightforward is Taiwanese-based EVA, which sells EV for 50 cents per $100 declared up to a limit of $2500 in coverage beyond what international law requires. Singapore Airlines, according to spokesperson James Boyd, has the same coverage limit and cost. Remember, airlines change their rules on a whim, so be sure to check with your airline before take off.

Additional considerations

Keep in mind that the airline will attempt to depreciate the value of your loss, and will require receipts to prove your claim.  Airlines typically exclude coverage for "fragile" items, "valuables" and "business effects"--this includes things such as electronics, jewelry, cash, art work, and business related documents and samples. However, some airlines, such as Alaska, will cover some fragile items if you buy excess valuation coverage, but only if the item is lost--not damaged.

And if you're thinking that your home owner's insurance will provide coverage, think twice about using it, because your insurer might refuse to renew your policy when it expires, or boost your premium if you make a claim. 

Another thing to consider is that if you buy coverage from, say, Continental and then transfer to Delta during your trip, Continental's coverage ends once the second airline takes charge of your bag. You need to claim your bag, in such a scenario, and re-check it with Delta, paying Delta's fees.

You can also buy travel insurance to cover your bags, but many basic policies don't go very far. For example, Access America's Basic Plan covers only $500. Their more expensive Classic policy is good for $1000, and their Deluxe policy for $1500, and the maximum liability for valuables is $500, but only if you can provide receipts.

For most travelers checking bags internationally, declaring excess valuation is a wise move.

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

Categories: Airfare Tips, Airfarewatchdog News


Inflight power: even the cheap seats have it now

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now that more airlines are offering in-flight internet access, Airfarewatchdog was wondering how we're going to make sure our various devices don't run out of power aloft. So what's the "current" state of in flight power? Is it still a perk only available to the premium class passenger, or do we economy class flyers also get to play?  

Many types of aircraft are equipped with power ports in each seat so that passengers can operate our growing list of electronic gadgets, such as cell phones, ipods, and of course our laptops, netbooks, and so on. We've even seen people using hair dryers and shavers on planes. For a long time this perk has been mostly confined to first and business class. Now, the trend is changing and many airlines offer power outlets in their economy class cabins as well. However, these outlets are more widely available on longer international flights than on domestic ones. One exception is Virgin America, a leader in implementing in-flight technology, offering a standard 120V outlet at every seat. Continental offers such outlets in economy class on select 737's.


Before you go on your next flight hoping to power your laptop there are a few things you should know:


There are 3 different types of outlets, depending on your aircraft:

1.) AC power- This is your standard outlet just like the one you use on the ground, and the easiest to use.

Here is the list of airlines and aircraft that offer AC power in Economy Class:

American Boeing 737-800 Vers. 2 (738) Domestic Routes

American Boeing 757-200 Vers. 2 (757) Domestic Routes

Continental Boeing 737-900ER (73E)  Domestic Routes

Continental Boeing 757-200 (752) International Routes

Continental Boeing 777-200ER (777) International Routes

Delta Boeing 777-200 ex-TWA (75E) International Routes

Delta Boeing 767-400ER Vers. 2 (76D) International Routes

Delta Boeing 767-400ER Vers. 1 (76C) International Routes

Delta Boeing 777-200LR (77L) International Routes

Delta Boeing 777-200ER (777) International Routes

United Boeing 757-200 p.s. (757) Premium Service

Virgin America Airbus A319 (319) All Service

Delta Airbus A330-300 (330, 333) International Routes

Delta Airbus A330-200 (332) International Routes

Delta Airbus 757-200 (5600 Series) -Pacific International Routes


2.) Cigarette DC power- This is the power port like the one you use in your car. You can purchase adapters online or at local electronics stores. We've even see them at stores like Walmart or Target. These adapters are called power inverters. They start at around $15, but choose wisely because you'll need one that can handle up to 75 watts, which is what many laptops draw.

            Airlines and aircraft that use DC Power in Economy Class:

American Airbus A300-600 (AB6) Domestic Routes

American Boeing 737-800 Vers. 1 (738) Domestic Routes

American Boeing 757-200 Vers. 1 (757) Domestic Routes

American Boeing 767-200 (762) Domestic Routes

American Boeing 767-300 (763) Domestic Routes

American McDonnell Douglas MD-80 Vers. 2 (M80) Domestic Routes

American McDonnell Douglas MD-80 Vers. 1 (M80) Domestic Routes


3.) EM Power- The power option most frequently used on airlines (mostly outside the US); requires an adapter that you can buy. If you have a DC inverter you can purchase an Em Power adapter for $13 from Magellan's. Otherwise Kensington and Targus offer models starting at around $60 that are compatible both for DC and Em Power outlets.

Examples of airlines and aircraft that use DC Power in economy class:

Continental Boeing 767-200 (762) Domestic & International Routes

Continental Boeing 767-400 High Density (76H) Domestic & International Routes


Even if you see that your plane is equipped with power outlets, they might only available in certain seats. Make sure you check Seatguru for more information or simply click on any of the aircraft links in the above charts.

Outlets can only handle 75 watts of power. So if you have a larger sized laptop, it might not be enough power to boot up your machine. Some airlines like Continental will specifically tell you to take out the battery and run on power only, because as you might have heard, batteries have exploded in flight, and we don't want fires at 35,000 feet.

Sometimes you will have to ask the inflight crew to turn on the power since it is sometimes shut off for take off and landing.

With newer technology coming out everyday, you might not even need to to charge your laptop except on those extra long international flights. The new Mac Book Pro claims to have 7 hours of battery life, which is plenty for most domestic flights. But if you're working on your laptop for more than 7 or 8 hours next time you fly, perhaps it's time to slow down, read a good book, and recharge yourself, rather than your laptop.



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

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Email from Europe

If you've been paying attention (you are paying attention, aren't you?) you've noticed that our newsletters haven't been signed off for the past few days by Tracy Stewart. Well, that's because Tracy has taken a well-deserved vacation. Seems he saw an amazingly low fare on Airfarewatchdog to Europe (probably one of those $388 jobs including tax) and said "I'm going." No, he didn't ask, "Can I go." That's how things work around here. "I'm going."

Anyway, we miss him. Terribly. He did have the decency to write a short email to us, however. (BTW, Tracy, who's in his early 30's, has already lived a full life, having worked as a Delta Air Lines baggage handler and as something or other in Stockholm, where he lived for several years).

"Missed my flight to Stockholm from Barcelona and had to book a second for the following day, but I didn't mind because it gave me another day in beautiful Sitges. Being back in Stockholm is strange! Its like constant deja vu -all these words and places I hadnt thought about in so many years. Tonight I had dinner with the ex and parents, who are always so nice. The city is abuzz over the upcoming wedding of the crown princess, Victoria, to her personal trainer (who owns a chain of gyms). Meanwhile, the younger princess Madeliene has called off her engagement after her fiance was caught cheating and she is hiding out in NYC. The tabloids are gagging here.
Vi ses! (see you soon!)"

Thanks Tracy for keeping us au courant. Where would we be without you!

And that's our report from Europe.

Categories: Airfare Tips, Airfarewatchdog News

Should Airfarewatchdog have mobile apps and a mobile web site?

Do you frequently access info on your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or other smartphone? How important is it to you that we develop a mobile platform and why? Please rate this "very important," "important" or "not important at all" by leaving a comment on our Facebook page (if you're a Facebook fan, which of course you should be!) or if you're not on Facebook, just leave a comment below. Thanks!

Also, feel free to tell us what other mobile travel apps and sites you use and like (or don't like!).

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Gosh! Money Magazine names Airfarewatchdog founder "Best Online Travel Expert"

Not "Best Travel Expert," thankfully, because that would really be over the top. But Airfarewatchdog's founder was named "Best Online Travel Expert" in the 2010 "Money 100" list, which is an annual roundup of the "100 best money moves you can make." We are very grateful for the recognition.

"Really and truly, I am very honored," AFWD creator George Hobica gushed, "but this honor belongs equally to our incredible team. This web site is first and foremost a team effort, and our fare analysts and other colleagues work amazingly hard."

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Help us spread the word about Airfarewatchdog!

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, January 22, 2010

Are you a big fan of Airfarewatchdog? Well we certainly hope so and thanks! We'd LOVE it if you could tell your friends about us. One very effective way is to hand out some of our FREE cards to friends, family, coworkers etc.

Have a store? Leave them at the counter.

Sending out wedding invites? Insert one and help guests flying to the event save money on airfare.

Going to a party? Pass 'em out.

Work in an office? Leave some in the break room

We have several thousand of these business cards, and we'd love to snail mail as many as you'd like. We just need your full mailing address (which will be used for no other purpose).

Just email us at  telling us how many you'd like, along with your address, and we'll drop them in the mail for you, all for free of course!


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

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

We've relaunched our UK site!

Did you even know that Airfarewatchdog has a UK site? Well, we do, and we've just spiffed it up. Unlike other UK fare sites, we list sale fares on Ryanair and include promo code and other "hidden" deals. Take a look!

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Albany (NY) International Airport adds Airfarewatchdog fare feed

Honestly, we don't quite understand why every airport doesn't show potential customers how cheap it can be to fly. Kudos to ALB for being smart marketers. And we love their custom implementation of our fares, via an RSS feed. Take a look!

More airports use Airfarewatchdog fares than use any other source. If you have a web site, you can add our fares (for free, of course) either via RSS feeds or by using our easy to implement fare widget. Details and examples of sites using our fares here.

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

New to Airfarewatchdog?

Posted by Jason on Sunday, November 15, 2009

Signed up for an Airfarewatchdog Fare Alert, but in need of a few pointers on how to book these great deals from Airfarewatchdog? You’ve come to the right place!  As you know, we have three great email alerts to help you find the lowest airfares. Our City-to-City Alerts, our Fare Alerts from Departure Cities, and our Fare Alerts to Cities have helped thousands of people find airfares to/from their favorite airports. (If you haven't signed up for our email alerts, click on “Fare Alerts” in the menu on the left of any page on our website.)

1.  Want to book those incredible deals you receive from Airfarewatchdog?  Here's how.

For  City-to-City Alerts: Click on the link "See Fare Details."   


For Fare Alerts from Departure Cities or Fare Alerts to Cities:  Scroll down the list of cities and find the airfare that interests you.  Click on the price or the "See All Details" link we provide for each fare.

An example of a Fare Alert from Departure City:


An example of a Fare Alert to City:


2.  The Airfare Details for the selected route will now appear on your screen.  The details may include information such as the name of the Airline(s) offering the fare, the Travel by date, the minimum number of days Advance Purchase required, the days of the week Available for travel, and Our Notes which provide even more relevant, helpful info.


3.  If you would like to book this fare, you'll see two ways to find seats at the price we've shown you.

Check When Fare is Available Using Flexible Dates (and even when they're not flexible):  Quick links to the websites where we actually found the fare will be posted here.  You'll be able to search for available dates on these sites that show clickable calendars of fares or multiple dates on one page.  Much easier and faster than entering one date at a time!

Note:  One of the good reasons why we recommend this option first is that in the course of the day, another airline may match the price or even post a lower one.  Or the original airline listed may sell-out or decide to change the price.  Looking here first will keep you on top of things.


Check If Fare is Available for Your Dates:  A convenient search where you can enter specific dates for the fare.  Please disable any pop-up blockers to use this option and note that this will link you to multiple booking sites.  Remember, not every date is available for every fare.  Flexible date searches (see above) always increase your chances of nabbing the low prices you see.

Please note that is not a travel agency and we do not sell fares or book travel.  We only list low fares that we've found.  The booking happens on another site.

4.  Once you have selected a link or entered dates, you will be sent directly to the airline or online travel agency where you can start checking availability and choosing your flight.

5.  Continue the booking process at the company's website until your airfare is booked and confirmed.  Print your confirmation page when you're done, please!  Sometimes confirmation emails get stuck in a SPAM filter or bounced away by your email provider, so do print.  Better safe, than sorry.  

There.  Now you're ready to go and get the great fares we've found for you.  Happy Hunting!

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News

Have a question? Why not post it on our Facebook page for all to see?

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We get all kinds of interesting questions here at Airfarewatchdog HQ in beautiful midtown Manhattan. Most of these come by email and end up being just one-on-one affairs between us and you, and often they're (not that we mind) the same question we got an hour ago. But what if you posted your question on our Facebook fan page wall? That way, everyone could benefit from your savvy query and our pithy response. If you're on Facebook, give it a try! And if you haven't "fanned" us yet, now's a super time to do so!

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

Categories: Airfarewatchdog News
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