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Delta to charge up to 60,000 miles for coach class domestic frequent flyer tickets

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Delta has announced a new frequent flyer mile chart, but Is this a good news, bad news story?

Delta is now charging up to 60,000 miles round-trip for a domestic coach frequent flyer ticket, but spending those miles will get you the "last seat on the plane" free of capacity controls. The airline also has the standard 25,000 mile award level and a new 40,000 mile award level. This seems like another way of squeezing more miles out of its frequent flyer members.

First class domestic will cost between 45,000 and 100,000 miles roundtrip. These mileage levels apply to the 48 states plus Alaska, and Canada. Hawaii will cost you between 45,000 and 90,000 miles for coach and between 75,000 and 180,000 miles in premium cabins. Sounds like frequent flyer mileage inflation to us.

Oh, and we thought this was very interesting: Micheline Maynard, writing in Thursday's New York Times, quotes a Delta frequent flyer program spokesperson who notes that the number of miles issued by Delta had grown by 24 percent from 2004 to 2007, but the number of frequent flyer seats has not grown. "The capacity is just not there," he says. That means it's 24 percent harder to find a free seat.

Speaking of inflation, check out American's new higher mileage requirements.

 

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

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Delta ups baggage fees, again

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Delta, which will soon be the world's largest airline (after it merges with Northwest) has increased baggage fees once more. Although the first checked bag is still free, a second will now cost $50 up from the previous $25 (that's assuming that it's not overweigh or oversized, in which case additional fees kick in). In addition, a third checked bag now costs $125 up from $80 and a bag weighing 51 to 70 pounds will cost an additional $90, up from $80. Delta claims that less than a fifth of its passengers check a second bag, and remember that these policies only apply to domestic flights.

Oh, and we thought this was very interesting: Micheline Maynard, writing in Thursday's New York Times, quotes a Delta frequent flyer program spokesperson who notes that the number of miles issued by Delta had grown by 24 percent from 2004 to 2007, but the number of frequent flyer seats has not grown. "The capacity is just not there," he says. How refreshingly honest. That means it's 24 percent harder to find a free seat.

We're assuming that when the merger takes place, these higher Delta fees will supplant Northwest's baggage fees. If you haven't already, take a look at our updated baggage fees chart.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

The power of flexible date search

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, July 27, 2008

We say it time and time again: you'll save money if you use a flexible date search. Choose to fly on the days and during the months when the airlines aren't as busy, and they'll give you a bargain. Yes, it's hard to believe that before airline deregulation, there were just 4 classes of fares--Y coach, F first class, YN night coach, and FN first class night--and it didn't matter when you flew. But now, it does matter when you fly, because the airlines are free to practice what they call yield management (charge higher fares for high demand travel dates, low fares for low demand ones). Usually, traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday will yield the lowest fares (that doesn't mean that buying fares on a Tuesday or Wednesday will save you money.)

So here are some examples. All of these fares were found within a few minutes of each other on the same day and on the same airlines, using Travelocity's flexible date search and Travelocity's exact date search. Exact dates were chosen at random.

To learn more about flexible date search, please see our handy chart.

 

Example 1: Providence to Las Vegas in August

$236.50 including taxes using flexible date search)

 

 

or $369 RT including taxes not using flexible date search

 

Example 2: Santa Ana/Orange County to Orlando in August

 

$253.50 RT including taxes using flexible date search

 

 

or $356 RT including taxes not using flexible date search

Example 3: Atlanta to Denver in August/September

$286 RT including taxes using flexible date search

 

 

or Atlanta to Denver $451 RT including taxes not using flexible date search

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

Kayak and Sidestep will eliminate American Airlines fares

Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, July 26, 2008

Well, it looks like it really might happen: American will pull their fares from Kayak.com (and sister site Sidestep.com), as Sean O'Neill reports on BudgetTravel.com. Interestingly, the two US airlines that only sell their fares on their own sites, Southwest and Allegiant, are the only two that are making profits, as Jared Blank of Online Travel Review, points reports.

Why is this happening? Kayak's CEO claims that, "American asked us to suppress search results from competing websites as a condition to displaying their fares. This is simply not something that Kayak will do. Imagine Sony telling Best Buy that they couldn’t sell Panasonic?"

Shades of Southwest pulling out of Travelocity.com oh so many years ago?

Is this a sign of things to come? As we've pointed out before, American already offers big discounts to those signing up for its DealFinder service, whose fares are only available on AA.com. These days, airline travel sites sell more than airfares. They also sell merchandise, hotels, rental cars, and package deals. And they market their frequent flyer programs and other products. So doesn't it make sense to lure consumers to their own sites, rather than going through middlemen (online travel agencies) to whom they also have to pay commissions?

 

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

Rule 240 Revisited

Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, July 26, 2008

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

The ultimate (well, very cool) flexible travel date airfare search chart

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, July 24, 2008

With fares going higher, and low fare seats getting scarcer, there is no better time than now to brush up on your flexible date search skills. If you don't particularly care when you fly as long as there's a cheap fare, flexible is the way to go.

To help you, we've put together this nifty chart (we're all about charticles these days, have you noticed?) and some important tips to help you distinguish between the various Web sites offering flex search.

Most sites let you search only over a 30 day period of your choice, both for the outward bound and the return flight (these include Cheaptickets, Hotwire, and Orbitz). Allegiant and Southwest, however, allow you to search over one 30 day period on the outbound and any other on the return. Then there are Travelocity and Cheapair, both of which allow a 330 day search. Only problem is, they're not very good at guaranteeing that there will be seats available at the fares initially shown in the search, whereas the other sites do a better job at this (the reason is that these searches take up a lot of computer processing power, and you can't have it both ways: a long date range  search, or better seat availability predictions).

And there are other distinctions between search sites, as the chart below shows. Some do one-way searches, others don't; most allow you to search for more than one seat, Travelocity doesn't; some do searches on routes from the US and Canada to international destinations (even if they say they don't); and others do not. And some charge fees, others give you a free ride (many online travel agencies have suspended booking fees through May 31, 2009).

Alaska Airlines in July (2008) added a nice 30 day search; and American has had a 31 day search for quite a while, as has Southwest. But most airlines are limited in their flexible date searches, which is a shame.


 

 

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

Categories: Airfare Tips

Is American severing ties with Kayak.com?

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That's the rumor, anyway. For quite a while, AA has been enticing travelers to buy tickets only on its own site, aa.com, with its DealFinder widget, which offers 10 to 30% off on various routes with the use of promo codes.

According to this blog post, cash-crunched American no longer wants to pay double booking fees to both Kayak and Orbitz (fares found on American via Kayak are sent not to aa.com but to Orbitz.com for booking).

Southwest, of course, already does very nicely by not listing on Kayak or any other site. So perhaps American is thinking, hey, why can't we go it alone too?

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

Alaska Airlines adds 30-day flexible date search

Posted by George Hobica on Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Alaska Airlines joins the small club of airline web sites with a 30-day flexible date search (see how it works). American has a 31-day search (domestic roundtrips only) and Southwest has their "ShortCut" which allows you to search any 30 day period outbound and any other 30 day period on the return. But most airline sites just do a 1 to 3 day flexible date search, if they offer it at all.

Alaska's new product allows you to:

  • View an entire month of fares for your chosen destination(s) and see the lowest fare available for each day of the month
  • View lowest fares for both outbound and return flights
  • Filter your search to only display First Class fares
  • View your total fare in an easy-to-use Trip Summary table

However, for fares to Mexico, the search range is only 3 days.

There are still lots of low fares out there, but increasingly you have to be extra flexble in your travel dates to nab them. So kudos to Alaska for making it easier to do so.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

United to cut capacity up to 16.5%

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Big changes at United Airlines and it'll hit you right in your pocketbook:

  • Laying off 7000 workers
  • Cutting domestic seat capacity 15.5 to 16.5 percent
  • Retiring 100 jets

Read the press release to see what else they're up to.

 

 

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

Muted Scandinavian Rhapsody

Scandinavian Airlines is having a sale for late summer and fall travel, with Delta hot on its flaps and Continental likely to catch up sooner or later, and we've got it all wrapped up for you. First off, these deals are no screaming bargains, but then the only screams we hear around here these days is when the hair pulling gets too intense—no happy outbursts, no songs of joy, let alone rapturous rhapsodies, just endless grousing and grumbling peppered with a few choice expletives we have to keep under wraps.

In fact, for travel to this part of the world there hasn't been much to raise our voices about since the spring of 2007, when Malaysia Airlines still offered nonstop fares from Newark to Stockholm for as little as $380 round-trip, before some spiteful bean counter apparently realized that this was no way for an airline to make money and his boss took the route so far up-market in a desperate do-or-die move you can just forget them!

If you were paying attention, we did alert you earlier on this blog to a small price war that raged uncharacteristically for a couple of days in mid-May, with peak summer fares to Copenhagen going for well under $600 (I was lucky enough to get a ticket and will be going soon, so please be sure to miss me). Since then things have been very quiet on the Northern front, and this non-event probably won't do a whole lot to upset the peace.

As far as we can tell, prices have merely returned to the more reasonable levels seen earlier this year, so it's a little like getting a second chance. Still, that's small comfort and the nicest thing we can say about this sale is that fares are actually a bit better than advertised. Now, that's a lot like getting excited about the extra meat in your gourmet wrap, until you remember that it's still just chicken and you're still paying too much for it. But, hey, if you're hungry, you gotta eat, doncha?

And that, folks, is a wrap!

Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares
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