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Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Fly from New York to London this spring for $417 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes, on Delta Airlines. This fare is available for departures through April 12, and allows for returns up to 12 months. We also like the 3-day advance purchase for this one!
If you don't live in or around NYC, no biggie. We've spotted similarly low fares departing from other cities, even from the West Coast:
For a complete listing of fares, please visit our page for London Heathrow.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, March 21, 2011
Fly from Los Angeles to Ft Lauderdale for $218 round-trip, including all taxes, on American Airlines. This fare is valid for travel 7 days a week, with a 330-day travel period. Seats are scarce, but it's definitely bookable. Be sure to avoid blackout dates in summer, June 9 through August 21.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, March 21, 2011
Fly to/from Ft Walton Beach-Destin, Florida for $38 round-trip (or $19 one-way, you prefer) on Vision Airlines. This offer is good for travel through May 21. No minimum stay required. All tickets must be booked by May 24.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, March 18, 2011
Fly from Chicago to Mexico City for $286 round-trip, including all taxes, on AeroMexico. This fare requires an advance purchase of only one day, which we like very much. Better still? This fare is available year round, and valid 7 days a week. Seats are limited, so do hurry.
By George Hobica
American Airlines' then chairman C.R. Smith launched the first VIP airport lounge in 1936 to reward his best customers and supporters, upon whom he bestowed the honorific "Admirals." Back then, membership was at the discretion of the sales force. Today, however, anyone with enough money can join. They're expensive, but considering the chaos of the typical airline terminal, especially when flights are delayed or cancelled, well worth it--a definite step up from sitting on the floor next to the gate, fighting over the last available power outlet. In addition to comfortable workstations and cushy chairs, they offer perks like free beverages and civil reservation agents. But is that worth the price of admission ($450 per year for Delta's SkyClub, or $450-500 for American's Admirals Club)? It might be if you travel often.
Don't settle for the full price at first glance, however. While all airlines offer access to passengers traveling in the premium cabin on a same-day international (considered transoceanic or intercontinental) flight, each airline offers a few additional options that may entice you.
Delta offers discounted passes for $25 for those who have the Delta-branded Gold or Platinum American Express card. Companies purchasing large volumes of 50 or more can receive a further discount. In addition, customers traveling in First Class or full-fare Y class tickets on eight specific routes to/from JFK (Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, and Las Vegas) can enjoy access at JFK or one of the eight aforementioned airports. This little-known perk is a great benefit for these premium transcontinental routes. Finally, a 30-day membership is available for $90 as a trial offer with the cost applicable to a full membership later.
United offers day passes online for $35, which can be printed from home. Alternatively, one-day passes can be purchased with 7,000 Mileage Plus miles at the club. Another benefit of the one-day passes is that they can be used at either a United Red Carpet Club or Continental Presidents Club. Passengers booked on United's p.s. (premium service) flights in First Class between JFK and SFO or LAX enjoy complimentary access to the Red Carpet Club and/or International First Class lounge on the day of travel. Continental sells day pass books online at a discount essentially offering 10 passes for the price of 9. These day passes have reciprocal access to any Continental or United-operated lounge. US Airways offers a discounted one-day pass when purchased online for the cost of $40. Alaska Airlines grants access to full-fare First Class passengers at any of its Board Room clubs, but also sells day passes for $45 for any of its five locations on the West Coast.
But another huge perk reveals itself when you need to be rebooked on an alternate flight because yours was cancelled or delayed. Would you rather stand in line with scores of the bumped and grumped, or go to the club, where the lines will be shorter (club receptionists are also able to rebook flights and assign seats). And for some, just having enough power outlets to charge computers and phones is reason enough to join.
Unfortunately, there are gaps in Priority Pass affiliated lounges at a few airports--no one wants to trek to a different terminal for a few free drinks--but most domestic airports are pretty well covered. This presents an obvious problem, especially at airports such as Atlanta Hartsfield where the only lounge is the Continental Presidents Club in Terminal D; or Miami where none of the airline-affiliated lounges participates. The two Miami airport-operated clubs are landside.
This is still one of the best deals around as it permits access to the broadest selection of lounges, no same-day airline flight requirements, and the lowest price.
Additonal reporting by Ramsey Qubein
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, March 17, 2011
With much of the country left in shambles after last week's earthquake and tsunami, ongoing aftershocks and the looming threat of nuclear disaster -not to mention a volcanic eruption in the south- it's no wonder anyone holding a ticket to Japan might prefer to sit this one out. The question is, will your airline refund the ticket? If you'd asked yesterday, you might have been refused, though that seems to be changing as of this afternoon. Here's what we know:
American Airlines will refund tickets to Tokyo Haneda and Narita for travel through April 10. Passengers can refund their non-refundable tickets for the original form of payment. American will also waive change fees for tickets issued on or before March 14, for travel dates March 11 through April 10 for new travel dates through May 10.
From Delta, "customers with fully unused, nonrefundable tickets may be entitled to a full refund, inclusive of all taxes, fees, and surcharges" to Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda, for travel from March 11 through March 31, if purchased on or before March 11. One time ticket changes are also allowed for all travel to, from, or through Japan, for tickets issued on or before March 31, for travel through April 25, or -more specifically- to Tokyo through April 25 or May 9 through July 15.
United has issued a 'travel waiver' for travel to, from, or through Japan through March 31, meaning you can request a refund, change or postpone your trip without incurring the usual fee.
Continental will allow refunds for tickets to, from, or through Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Niigata, Okayama, Osaka, Sapporo, and Sendai with original travel dates between March 11 through March 31.
ANA All Nippon Airways will allow refunds for tickets issued on or before March 16, for travel to Japan through May 31. A one time change will be permitted for travel on or before July 10.
JAL Japan Airlines will provide refunds to passengers holding tickets for travel to Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Sendai, Hanamaki, Aamori, Misawa, Yamagata, Akita, and Niigata through April 10, for tickets issued on or before March 14. New flights should be scheduled for travel on or before July 10. Says JAL's site, "It may take sometime for refund process to be completed."
Singapore Airlines will waive administrative fees for refund, re-booking or re-routing for tickets issued on or before 11 March, for travel to and from all cities in Japan from 11 March to 10 April, both dates inclusive. This also applies to KrisFlyer redemption tickets.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, March 17, 2011
Fly from Montreal to Paris for $528 CAD round-trip, including all taxes on Corsairfly. This fare is good for departures between May 22 and June 19, returning June 26. Pretty good for late spring/summer-ish fare for this route. This offer is good through April 4. Seats are limited and tickets are non refundable. More at Corsoairfly.com.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Fly from Philly to Charleston for $160 round-trip, including all taxes, on Continental. This fare is valid for travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with a 330-day travel period. Tickets require a 21-day advance purchase. No minimum stay.
You'll find lots of similarly priced fares to/from Philadelphia today (look for the $118 pre-tax fares) on both Continental and United. Same rules apply, with plenty of Tuesdays & Wednesdays available for summer travel.
By George Hobica
It used to be all so simple. Back in the days when the chirpy stewardess (that’s what they called them back then) would pin little plastic pilot wings on you, airfares changed so infrequently that airlines actually printed them on their schedules. You’d call your favorite travel agent to find the best deal, pack your bags, and jet off. And there were only two kinds of fares: “coach” and first class.
Now, with airfares changing literally by the second and an alphabet soup of different offers, finding the “best” deal is a challenge. And it hasn’t helped that some airlines have removed their fares from your favorite travel websites. But don’t give up hope. This step-by-step guide will get you ready for take off this summer.
Before you do anything, sign up for free airfare alerts.
Why do all the work hunting down a low airfare yourself when you can have someone else do it for free? Many airfare search and listing sites, such as TripAdvisor.com/flights, Travelocity.com, Farecompare.com, Hotwire.com, Bing.com/travel (and, of course, Airfarewatchdog.com) offer emailed airfare alerts when prices go down. This is just a partial list; do a browser search for "airfare alerts" to see what's available. These alert services all work in slightly different ways. Some will let you specify airline, nonstop vs. connecting flights, and other criteria. Yapta.com will let you choose a specific flight to track (although that flight may or may not be the best deal compared to other flights). Others just let you know when a fare on a route you specify has gone down in price, regardless of the airline or flight time.
Get email from your airlines
Next: sign up for emails and frequent flyer programs from as many airlines as you can tolerate. Sure, you already get enough email, but you want to fly cheaply, right? Here's why: Airlines are trying to woo customers to book directly with them by offering special deals when you sign up for their newsletters and email lists. One way they do this is by offering "promo code" deals that are redeemable only on their websites. It might be 10 percent off, or $10 off, or even a half-price sale. They also alert you to special deals that can only be booked on their Web sites or that are only available to members of their loyalty programs.
Once that's done, let the search begin.
First step: ask yourself this question: Are you a flexible flyer?
If you answer yes you're in luck, because you'll get the lowest airfares.
Let's say you’ve been promising your sister you’d visit her sometime this year. But whenever you search for a good airfare, the prices are out of reach. If it doesn’t really matter when you go, then you need to search on a website that caters to those with flexible travel dates. Start by clicking over to Travelocity.com, Orbitz.com, Hotwire.com or Cheaptickets.com (all of which are "online travel agencies or OTA's in industry parlance), and check the “flexible dates” button or link. On Travelocity, enter your origin and destination and hit search. You’ll see the lowest published fares for travel dates up to 330 days into the future. You’ll then need to click on the fare calendars to see when those fares are actually available. Orbitz, Hotwire and Cheaptickets do a flexible date search over any 30-day period you choose. Keep in mind that American Airlines is not currently listed on some sites (notably Expedia, Orbitz, and Hotwire) and of this writing Delta isn’t appearing on CheapAir.com or Farecompare.com, although those exclusions are subject to change at any time. After you find a fare, see if Southwest, which only lists its fares on its Southwest.com website, has a better deal (remember that Southwest doesn’t charge for the first two checked bags, so you need to factor that in as well as the fare). Southwest, too, has an excellent flexible date tool (look for “Low Fare Calendar” on the site’s homepage). And check out AllegiantAir.com to see if Allegiant Airlines flies where you’re headed, since it, too, only sells tickets on its own Web site.
What if you’re not flexible in your travel dates? The above-mentioned sites can be helpful in that case as well, but you also might want to try sites such as Kayak.com, Tripadvisor.com/Flights, and Momondo.com. These are “meta search” fare sites, and although they don’t offer quite the travel date flexibility as some others do, they often include fares that the airlines sell only on their own websites. None of them include Southwest’s fares, however, or fares on the smaller but growing Allegiant Airlines.
“Meta search” vs. online travel agency (OTA)
So what’s the difference? For one thing, online travel agencies have toll-free numbers with agents standing by to help you book or re-book a flight; meta-search sites don’t. A meta-search might send you directly to an airline to book your flight, or if the best deal is on a combination of airlines (say, going out on US Airways and coming back on United), they’ll send you to an OTA to book. OTA's keep you on their own websites to book travel, and don't always have fares that the airlines are keeping for themselves, but they do show you the widest range of schedules and fares, and sometimes have lower fares than even the meta-search sites do (recent example: American Airlines had business class fares to Europe for peak summer travel at prices lower than economy class for the same dates; Travelocity had these deals, Kayak didn't). Plus, they offer air plus hotel packages that can sometimes save you serious cash.
Airline websites sometimes have the best fares
Next stop: your airline's web site. Increasingly, airlines aren't sharing their very best fares with third-party sites such as Orbitz and Kayak. Case in point: recent fares to London from the West Coast for $420 round-trip including tax that were only available on Spanish airline Iberia's website (similar fares were twice that elsewhere). So once you've found a fare, definitely check airline sites directly rather than assuming your favorite third-party site will have all the best deals.
Watch out for promo codes
See those little promo code boxes on your favorite airline's website? What's that all about? From time to time, you'll receive promo codes in your email because you signed up for email from your favorite airlines and online travel agencies. These codes can only be redeemed if you book directly on the airlines' websites, another way they try to build consumer loyalty and cut out the middleman.
When to use your miles
After you've found what you think is a good airfare, ask yourself if it's worth spending some frequent flyer miles instead. There are smart ways to spend your miles and less smart ones. Rather than cashing in 25,000 or even 50,000 miles for a domestic economy class ticket that might have cost you $250 or $300, why not splurge for a trip to Europe (50,000 miles on some airlines) that might cost two or three times more; or upgrade your $400 economy class seat to a $2800 business class fare for 30,000 miles on domestic routes? A general rule: if the economy class fare is $400 or more, spending 25,000 miles is a good deal. Less than that, you might be better offering paying cash and saving your miles.
Check Southwest Airlines separately
If Southwest flies where you're going, you'll have to surf over to Southwest.com to see their fares. Another smaller, but growing, carrier that sells only directly to consumers is Allegiant Airlines (allegiantair.com).
Getting the best last minute airfares
You'll often get the best fares if you book at least 7 to 21 days ahead of departure. But what if you don't have that luxury? Other than the airlines' last minute weekend fares, which you can find on their sites, your best bet is Priceline.com's "Name your own price" feature or Hotwire.com. Also take a look at Lastminute.com which packages last minute airfares with hotel and rental car deals. Amazingly, the cost of these packages is often less than what you'd pay for airfare alone.
When to use a real live travel agent
There is another way to find a low airfare, and it's one your mother probably used. Pick up the phone and call a local travel agent, the kind with a real storefront. As good as do-it-yourself online sources can be, your friendly neighborhood travel agent may have some tricks up her sleeve to save you money. Let's say, for example, that you get an airfare alert that fares from Houston to Honolulu are $800 round-trip. But who knew that the same trip, same dates from Dallas is $300. Or that you can fly from Houston to Dallas for $100 and connect onward? Travel agents also sell "consolidator" airfares, which are heavily discounted deals (mostly on international flights). These fares come with more restrictions, but can save you money. And they can also find you amazing package deals. "Bricks and mortar" travel agents often charge for their services, but the savings can be tremendous.
Getting a refund when the fare drops after you buy
Several domestic U.S. airlines will give you a full refund, in the form of a voucher good for future travel, if the airfare drops between the time you buy and time you fly—if and only if you fly on the same itinerary. Those airlines are Alaska, Jetblue and Southwest. Some other airlines issue vouchers, but deduct a ticket re-issue fee (up to $150 on domestic fares, or $250 or more on international ones). A good place to track price drops: Yapta.com, which works with some but not all airlines (notably missing: Southwest).
Watch out for fees
Once you've found your fare, your job isn't quite done. A low fare on one airline could turn out to be not so low once fees are added on. Airlines are making most of their profits these days not from selling you airfares but with all those fees for baggage, premium seats, and other perks. The fee for an "overweight, over-sized" checked bag to some international destinations on Delta Air Lines can cost (gulp!) $700 round-trip. One airfare website that tries to forewarn passengers about fees when they search is TripAdvisor.com/flights. Do a web search for "airline baggage fee chart" or "airline fees" to be forewarned of what you might pay. And don't trust airport baggage scales. Weigh your bags at home before leaving for the airport, and bring a portable digital electronic bag scale to make sure you're not being overcharged. Southwest is currently the only airline that doesn't charge for the first and second checked bags (within weight and size limits), and also doesn't charge a fee if you wish to change your travel dates.
Best days to travel
Although a low airfare can pop up at any minute of the week, one thing's for certain: it's cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Saturday is also a low-fare day. If traveling internationally, Monday to Wednesday is often the sweet spot.
Is there a "magic" hour or day to buy?
It's true that the airlines' weekend deals come out Monday to Wednesday, and some airlines announce their sales early in the week, but if you limit yourself to searching just on those days, you'll miss out. A good fare can pop up literally any moment of the week. And if you search one minute or one day and the fare is way too high, don't despair. Come back an hour or two or a day or two later and search again. Not only do airfares change with the wind, but the number of seats offered at the lowest fares changes as well, based on supply and demand.
Speaking of "when to buy," Bing.com/travel purports to offer accurate airfare predictions, indicating whether the site thinks a fare will go up or down, and it's certainly worth a try, but it's not always accurate. To see if an airfare is currently on the high or low side, do a web search for "historic airfares" to see airfare trends over time on a particular route. Two useful sites: Farereport.com and Kayak.com/trends.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, March 14, 2011
Alaska Airlines' current crop of Web Specials features some swell fares for travel between Alaska & the Pacific Northwest. Valid travel dates may vary by route, though you'll find most available from April 26 through May 11. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or all days. Some markets may not operate daily service. All fares require immediate purchase.
Visit AlaskaAir.com for more info. Fares include: