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Fare of the Day: Boston to Bermuda $212 RT including all taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, July 29, 2011

Hey, Boston! Looking for something to do over the Labor Day holiday? Fly to Bermuda for $212 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

You'll find this fare available on other dates as well, from September through November.

For booking info, see our fare details.

 

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

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Fare of the Day: Toronto to Taipei $873 RT including all taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fly from Toronto to Taipei for $873 round-trip, including all taxes, on Delta Airlines.

This fare is available for travel on select dates, starting in late August, and through September/October.

For booking info, see our fare details.

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

JetBlue's BluePass: 3 Months of Unlimited Travel from Boston & Long Beach

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's not quite the All-You-Can-Jet Pass, but if you happen to live in or within driving distance to Boston or Long Beach, you might consider JetBlue's new BluePass. Choose from three options, ranging from $1,299 to $1,999, for three months of unlimited travel, from August 22 through November 22.

At the very top, the Boston All pass includes unlimited travel to all JetBlue cities for $1,999, before taxes.

For $1,499 before taxes, the Boston Select pass includes unlimited travel to New York, Newark, Baltimore, Buffalo, both Washington DC airports, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Chicago, Jacksonville, and Bermuda.

And from California, the Long Beach Select pass includes unlimited travel to Las Vegas, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Chicago, all for the bargain basement price of $1,299, before taxes.

For all you indecisive and/or spontaneous types: Book online 90 minutes prior to departure. No change fees or cancel fees for any plan. But be warned: If a BluePass customer no-shows for a flight two (2) times in a seven (7) day period, a penalty fee of $100 will be incurred. The BluePass and all existing reservations will be suspended until the penalty fee is paid. Booking multiple flights departing from the same city on the same day is prohibited.

Each BluePass is eligible for TrueBlue points—customers who purchase the Boston All BluePass will receive 12,000 TrueBlue points. Customers who purchase the Boston Select BluePass will receive 9,000 TrueBlue points. Customers who purchase the Long Beach Select BluePass will receive 8,000 TrueBlue points.

Remember, all pass prices do not include domestic, international, and Puerto Rico taxes. BluePass flights can only be booked online at jetblue.com/BluePass, starting from August 15. This offer expires August 31.

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

Dressing for success when you fly

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

When a friend of mine checked in for a flight from San Francisco to Vancouver recently, he was surprised that the Air Canada gate agent handed him a first class boarding pass as he was about to get on his flight. What was so unusual about this? Several things. He had bought an economy class ticket, he rarely flies on Air Canada and thus has no frequent flyer status on the airline, and even more unusually, the flight was half empty so this wasn't an oversell upgrade situation. So why the extra love?

Because he was wearing a suit. Yep, my pal asked the gate agent why he was so blessed and she answered, "our station manager noticed how well dressed you were and told me to upgrade you."

I, too, was upgraded recently on a United p.s. flight from LA to New York's JFK, and I, too, was wearing a suit (if I'm going on a business trip, I wear my suit on the plane, in part because I don't want it to take up too much room in my carry on). I only have 80,000 lifetime miles in United's MileagePlus program, and no, before you say, "Yeah, but they know who you are" trust me, they don't. Not wanting to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth, I didn't ask the gate agent why I was upgraded from a frequent flyer economy class seat all the way through business class and up to first class (in fact, when I heard my name over the PA system my heart skipped several beats because I assumed that the flight was oversold and I was being bumped, owing to my lack of status). But I'm going to guess it was because I was the only person in the waiting area who wasn't dressed like I was about to head off the to gym.

"You can't fly on Concorde! You're not wearing a tie!"

Think this is nonsense? Well, not really. For a couple of years in the 1980's just before they went belly up, I worked as a consultant for Eastern Airlines (remember them?). As such, each month I was given a stack of flight coupons. I'd just make a reservation and hand one of these coupons over at the ticket counter and I could fly anywhere in the Eastern system for free, in first class no less. One evening I was flying back to Boston, where I lived at the time, and was curious to see that the agent handed me a seat in economy. "Is first class full?" I meekly inquired. "The way you're dressed, you don't even deserve to fly at all," he scolded. What was my sin? I was wearing a suit and a nice pair of shoes, but had taken off my tie. Into economy I went.

Another time I was booked in business class on British Airways on a pass from Heathrow to New York. Due to an air traffic controller slow down, my flight and virtually all others were canceled, but I convinced the company to put me on the one flight that was still operating, which happened to be on the Concorde. I approached the ticket counter and explained that I was authorized to fly supersonic. "You can't fly on Concorde!" the agent barked at me. "You're not wearing a tie!" True story. Luckily, this time I had a tie in my carry on. "One sec," I replied. I ducked down behind the counter, quickly repaired my wardrobe malfunction, popped back up and said, "Can I have my boarding pass now?" And off I flew.

If we have to dress up, why don't the passengers?

You see, for many years airline employees were required to dress nicely if they were flying on a pass. Women were required to wear a skirt and a blouse, and men at least a sport coat and tie, or in some cases a suit. The rules were especially strict for first class travel. No jeans. No sneakers. No tie, no service. Although most airlines have relaxed these rules, there are a lot of employees who remember the old days. And perhaps they figure, if we had to dress well to fly, what's up with all the passengers who get to sit in first class dressed like Richard Simmons? (It's a bit ironic that these days when you fly first class on British Airways and many airlines, they give you a pair of pajamas to change into).

And although I don't recommend that you show up at the airport in your pj's,  it's entirely up to you how you dress when you fly and I do understand that flying is often uncomfortable and many folks want to make the flight as pleasant as possible.

But, I'm just saying. Everything else being equal (same frequent flyer status, etc.) when a flight is oversold in economy and the airline needs to upgrade someone, are they going to choose the passenger in the tank top or the one wearing the nice dress or suit? You know the answer. (Of course, it doesn't hurt to be extra nice to any staff you should encounter.)

How do you dress when you fly? Have you ever been upgraded because you were well dressed?

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Priority boarding often a perk worth paying for

Frequent flyer tips only the pros know

Priority boarding often a perk worth paying for

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

If you've ever stood in line at security at Chicago's O'Hare airport or Las Vegas' McCarran or Miami International on a Saturday morning when all the cruise ships disgorge their passengers, you probably already know – as bad as security lines can get elsewhere, they always seem to be worse at the busiest airports. Like, miss-your-flight worse.

Say, though, the mess was at Terminal 1 – United's home turf. No need to hang around, waiting on line. These days, anyone can zip straight on through, just like the first class people and the MileagePlus members with big piles of status. Got a nonrefundable, screw-you-don't-even-ask, steerage class ticket in the very last row with no seat recline next to the overflowing toilet? No problem, madam or sir – kindly step right into the VIP line.

That is, as long as you can show proof that you purchased Premier Line access, available at the ticket kiosk for $9 and up per flight. This little add-on guarantees you'll be fast-tracked through the security line and that you'll board ahead of the bulk of economy class. (Book it in advance, and you'll get priority check-in, too.)

Sound like a steal? It can be. The $20 or so we spent to make a New York flight from O'Hare a couple of Christmases ago, a flight that was one of the last to take off before a snowstorm hit the Midwest? Completely worth it. In fact, we might have paid a whole lot more than $20, had we known what was about to happen.

United's service is a pretty unique one – while other airlines are also now selling off benefits that used to be reserved for their elite customers, the guaranteed security line jump isn't yet a typical offering, by any means. Maybe in the future, but for now, most airlines that do sell any type of hurry-up benefits restrict them simply to priority boarding, once you get to the gate.

Who's doing cool stuff, and who's just trying to raise more revenue through depressing fees? We took six current programs that offer priority benefits at a similarly low price – and picked them apart in this handy chart.

Buy an airfare and discover it went down? You might get a "refund"

By George Hobica

Airfarewatchdog.com

It happens all the time: you buy an airfare and then the next day, the next week, or the next month, you discover that you can now buy the fare on the same flights, same days of travel, same fare class (or "fare bucket" in airline-speak) on the same website for less money.  For instance, you booked Anchorage from Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines. You did it on alaskaair.com (just the way the airline likes it). Now, the same fare is being advertised for much, much lower. Bet you wish you could get some of that money back.

The good news is that you can. Alaska, along with a handful of other airlines, does reward those who do their homework after booking. Okay, so it's not exactly money back, but it is a credit of some sort (electronic, if you're lucky, an annoying paper voucher if you're not), good for future travel for up to a year.

Sounds nice, right? Don't get too comfortable -- Alaska's in an elite group of airlines that makes it easy for you. Southwest is another one (Airtran, now a part of the Southwest family, recently adopted its parent's policy as well). While Alaska and other airlines don't have a printed policy, they do allow customers to rebook without incurring fees; any credit is issued to the customer's account. Savvy JetBlue customers that find lower fares after booking know to give reservations a ring; if it all checks out, the airline will credit the difference to use for future flights, stored in your account for use within a year (again, this is not a published policy, just so you know.)

It goes downhill from there. Many airlines, most notably non-U.S. carriers and no-frills airlines such as Spirit, won't give you anything back at all. And if they do, most charge a change fee of up to $150 on a domestic fare and $250 or more on an international one. In other words, that had better be one doozy of a fare drop. Moreover, if you bought your fare on Priceline.com or another so-called "opaque" site, of the fare is bought from a consolidator, all bets are off. (More about those sites in a future article.)

Check out our chart showing how various U.S.- and foreign-based airlines compare. You'll see that especially if you're traveling internationally and you're a fare-watcher then you're better off sticking with U.S. carriers rather than foreign ones.

But before you get too mad at the airlines for not giving the entire fare difference back to you, consider this: how many merchants do this? I recently got an email about a semi-annual sale at Brooks Brothers specifically stating that prior purchases were not eligible, and if you buy a television at Best Buy and discover five months later that the price has gone down, do you honestly think that they'll refund the difference (maybe there's a seven-day or perhaps a 30-day price guarantee, but some airlines will issue refunds on fares bought months ago). And frankly, with all the new ways airlines are devising for raising revenue, it wouldn't surprise us one bit if they start acting more like other retailers. You buy it, you fly it.

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Priority boarding often a perk worth paying for

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Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Guadalajara $265 RT including all taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fly from Los Angeles to Guadalajara for $265 round-trip, including all taxes, nonstop, on Continental. This route has dropped by about $30 since we last reported, and still available for Labor Day getaways.

Other dates also available, from early September through April.

For booking info, see our fare details.

And for other low fares to Mexico, please visit our pages for Cancun, Los Cabos, Mexico City, and Toluca.

 

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

Fare of the Day #2: Los Angeles to Istanbul $565 RT nonstop, including all taxes, holiday travel

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey Los Angelenos, looking for somewhere to spend your December holidays? Fly from LAX to Istandbul, Turkey for $565 round-trip, including all taxes, on Turkish Airlines. Better still, that's nonstop!

Other dates are also available, from October through December. Nonstop flights are only available for only a handful of dates. If you don't mind a single stop itinerary with a quick change of planes in Chicago or New York, you'll have more dates to choose from.

For booking info, see our fare details.

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

Airlines that sell priority boarding privileges if you're willing to pay

For an extra fee, some airlines will let you get on the plane earlier than other passengers, giving you a better chance of finding space in the overhead bin among other benefits.

 

 Airline

What it's called

How much

What you get

Browser says

 AirTran

Priority Boarding

$10

You'll board in Zone 2 – behind the Business Class passengers.

This is something you buy at the airport; and probably only worth it if the flight is super full. Rather unexciting.

 Allegiant

Priority Boarding

$9.99

You'll be the first to board.

You can buy this in advance; on an airline like this with mostly slow moving leisure travelers, $9.99 isn't bad to hurtle ahead of all of them.

 American

Your Choice

$9

Group 1 Boarding – be among the first to board, for a small fee. (The security line jump is still only just for special people, sorry.)

Congratulations to AA on another smooth revenue generating move – getting rid of back-to-front boarding means they may sell more of this option.

 JetBlue

Even More Speed

$25 and up

Breeze through security, be the first to board. Sold as part of the Even More Space option for now; the airline says it may go a la carte later on.

Basically, the Even More Space seats are even more valuable now. Check, though. Not all airports offer the security line jump. 

 Southwest

Early Bird Check In

$10

Assigns a boarding position that allows you to be one of the first people on the plane.

Don't get excited -- they don't guarantee A Group. It can happen, but may not, if lots of people bought Business Select fares.

 United

Premier Line

$9 and up

Gets you through check-in, security and boarding faster. Also offered in bundles with other services, such as guaranteed Economy Plus Seating, for a higher price. 

 

Loves it! Particularly at places like ORD, where we've avoided missing flights by buying this service at the kiosk before rushing to security.  

 

 

Fare of the Day: New York to Shanghai $674 RT including all taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fly from New York to Shanghai for $674 round-trip, including all taxes on Delta Airlines and China Eastern. Nonstop travel on outbound flights, changing in Tokyo on the return.

This fare is good for travel on select dates from September to November. Seats are limited.

For booking info, please see our notes in fare details.    

 

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

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