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Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, August 20, 2009
Fail to achieve that summer sheen you'd been hoping for? Well, pack up the SPF 2 and head to Hawaii. We've found round-trip fares as low as $319, as part of the current Sunshine Sale from Alaska Airlines. Travel now through November 17. All fares must be purchased by September 3, and at least 2 hours before departure.
Posted by A Tam on Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Just booked a non-refundable fare and immediately realize you booked the wrong dates or the wrong city? Or simply decide that you don't want to attend Aunt Freda's annual bingo marathon after all? Depending on the airline or online travel agency you bought from, you might be able to cancel and get a full refund if you do so within a certain time. But it might take some work and some airfare vendors are more frustrating to deal with than others.
In general, if the airline you are booked with has a no-penalty cancellation policy you must cancel within 24 hours of purchase, or else regular change fees will apply. Many major U.S. based carriers offer a 24-hour grace period and let you get a refund for no fee. The only exceptions are American Airlines and Air Tran. Continental and Northwest/Delta make it super easy to cancel fee-free with just a few mouse clicks. If your ticket is not on either of those airlines you will have to be patient and spend some time on the phone.
If you've bought from an online travel site such as Expedia or Priceline, you'll have to be even more patient. Last week we received an email from a reader about her experience trying to cancel a ticket booked on Priceline, and in short she wasn't able to reach a representative in time and was stuck with a ticket she no longer needed. Under Priceline's rules, if you phone them by 11:30 p.m. ET on the day that you book, you can get a full refund. But as our reader discovered, it's easier said than done. If you can't get through by phone send them an email or better yet you might have luck calling the airline directly to see if they can do anything.
Another option is to put your fare on a "courtesy hold". American and US Air offer a 24-hour hold, and although this is allows you to double check your reservation, if the fare goes up meantime you'll have to pay the higher price.
Here are the refund policies for some major U.S. based carriers and online travel agencies:
Categories: Airfare Tips
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here's a pretty snazzy offer from Expedia, good for $200 coupon on qualifying vacation packages. You must be signed into your Expedia.com user account (if you don't have an account, take a sec to create one) and choose a vacation package that includes at least 1 non-refundable round-trip plane ticket, along with 3 consecutive nights at participating Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels (you know: a Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, or an Interncontinental Hotel...). At time of purchase, be sure to click on the "I have a coupon" link, and enter code 200IHG.
The fine print: Must be booked by 11:59pm pacific time, August 31. All travel must be completed by September 30. There is a 1-day advance purchase required, and the cost of your package must be at least $200 before taxes and fees. Limit 1 coupon per package booking.
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Get out of town for as little as $5.90 each way, thanks to the current run of Early Bird Specials from Spirit. This offer is exclusively for members of their $9 Fare Club, but if you're not keen on joining, don't worry, there are higher sale fares available to non-members as well.
As members are well aware by now, Fare Club offers are available for travel only on handful of specific dates, which can be a tad tricky to string together.
For non-members, you'll find lower fares available on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from September 1 through November 17.
$9 Fare Club fares include:
This sale ends 11:59pm ET on August 20.
Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, August 18, 2009
No doubt in response to pet owner outrage who ended up paying more for their pets than their own fares, United reduced its in cabin pet fee from $175 to $125 each way (still a lot); and Delta reduced from $150 to $100, now in line with most other airlines. See our updated fee chart.
Posted by George Hobica on Monday, August 17, 2009
We recently set up a Facebook profile page, and if you've just stumbled across our site, and are curious what people think about it, take a look.
Categories: Airfarewatchdog News
Posted by George Hobica on Saturday, August 15, 2009
You already know that traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will save you money on air travel, and that connecting flights are often cheaper than nonstops. And you know that airlines raise fares for travel during peak holiday periods and for last minute travel. And that when shopping you should check fares from all airports that are a short drive from your nearest airport. But Airfarewatchdog.com has gathered some additional advice that might save you money next time you're shopping for a plane ride.
Check fares often
Because airfares fluctuate like the stock market, you need to check them every day, or better still several times a day, if you're serious about saving money. Airlines can update domestic fares three times a day during the week, and once on Saturday and Sunday (international fares tend not to change as often, but can be updated up to 5 times daily). Also, even if the fare itself hasn't changed, seat availability at the lowest fares can change, so there might be just one seat available at 10 a.m., but the airline will open up more cheap seats later in the day.
Try a flexible fare search
If you're at all flexible, you can sometimes save hundreds by adjusting your travel dates. Travelocity will search most domestic fares and many international ones over a 330 day search period; Orbitz and Hotwire cover nearly all routes from the US, but only over 30 day periods. Southwest.com also has a good flexible date search tool. See this article for the low down on flexible date searches with some handy step-by-step instructions.
Sign up for the airlines' email feeds and frequent flyer programs
Yes, we know, you already get too much email, but the airlines want to develop a one-on-one relationship with you, so they'll send you special deals, such as 50% off promo codes or two-fers, if you sign up. Airline sites sell much more than airfares these days (hotels, rental cars, credit cards and such), and they will entice you to deal direct rather than use a third party site such as Orbitz. Here are links to US domestic airline sign up pages and for international sign ups. If you're on Twitter, you might also want to follow the airlines' tweets, which they're using to promote exclusive Twitter-only deals. We signed up for Virgin America's frequent flyer program and because we haven't flown them yet we keep on getting promo code discount offers to give them a try.
Sign up for fare free alerts
Many airfare web sites offer these, and they all have something to offer. Yapta.com lets you track your specific itinerary, down to the flight number and dates of travel, and will let you know if the airline owes you a price-drop refund. Travelocity's easy-to-use FareWatcherPlus lets you track up to ten routes and you can choose to be notified either when a fare goes down by $25 or more, or when it goes below a price you choose. Orbitz and Kayak also offer alerts, as does Bing Travel. But since all of these sites use the same airfare data provided by the airlines' computer systems, they won't include discounted promo code fares, and most don't include Southwest Airlines. Airfarewatchdog continues to be the only fare alert service that includes individual promo code fares (route by route) and fares on Southwest and Allegiant, as well as on some other smaller carriers.
Search airline sites individually
Some airlines have "private" sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites. These are different from promo code fares. Airfarewatchdog fare searchers often find lower fares on JetBlue.com, even without discounts such as a recent system-wide 20% off promo code, than on third-party sites. International airlines such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qantas regularly offer lower fares (i.e., $100-$400 less) on their own web sites compared to what you'll find on Kayak or Orbitz.
Sign up for Ding Fares
Southwest offers frequent "Ding" deals that pop up on your computer that can save a few bucks off their already low fares. A couple of years ago, American launched something similar which used to generate frequent promo code discounts, but we haven't seen many good deals from them lately.
Buy hotel + air packages
It's often significantly cheaper to buy an air plus hotel package rather than airfare alone. We often see Travelocity "TotalTrip" offerings, especially on last minute flights, pop up with hotel plus air for half the price of air alone. Lastminute.com is also a great source for finding last minute packages.
Use Priceline for last minute trips
If you don't have a 7, 14, or 21 day advance purchase window to buy your fare, your best bet is the "name your own price" feature of Priceline.com. True, you won't know the exact flight times or airline you're flying until to pay for your trip, but you can save 50% or more.
Use consolidators for international business and first class fares
Especially with the economic downturn, business and first class cabins will be emptier in 2009, and deals will be amazing. Consolidators specializing in premium cabins will have some great deals, and the airlines themselves will be heavily discounting their premium cabins, so check the specials on their web sites. Do a google search for "first class consolidators" to see some of the firms in this space.
Consider the extra fees before you buy
If Southwest has a fare of $198 round-trip and United has one for $148, and you are checking three bags, then Southwest actually has the lowest fare because Southwest charges nothing for the first two checked bags, whereas United would charge you an additional $165 each way for three. You can find baggage fee charts here.
Combine two separate fares rather than buying one fare
If you're flying to a destination in Europe, you might save money by purchasing one fare from the US to, say, Dublin, and another from Dublin onward. Same holds true for some destinations in Asia (fly into Singapore and catch a low cost carrier from there) and to some smaller Caribbean destinations via San Juan or the Bahamas.
Buy tickets on an airline that will refund the difference if a fare goes down
Let's say you've found the lowest fare, and then the day after purchase your non-refundable fare for the same itinerary goes down. If you ask for it you can get a refund for the difference. But some airlines will charge you a costly "administrative" fee of $150 or more, wiping out any savings. Others will give you the entire fare difference without extracting a fee. Currently, the "nice" airlines are JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska.
Don't listen to airfare pundits who predict airfares
Look, we all want our pictures in the paper and on the TV. But airlines are unpredictable creatures, and any airfare expert who claims he knows that airfares will be lower or higher in the coming months is just trying to snag some publicity. No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading, any more than we can predict the stock market, because we have no idea when the economy will approve, or how much airlines will cut back capacity, or when the next flu epidemic will hit. If we could, we'd all be comfortably retired in Margaritaville by now!
Categories: Airfare Tips
Posted by George Hobica on Friday, August 14, 2009
We just earned over 1500 SkyMiles! Drugstore.com sells everything you can imagine a drug store sells, and much more. Plus, there's no sales tax, the prices are often better than at our local Walgreens or CVS, and, unlike here in NY City, we always get a thank you after our purchase (OK, it's an emailed thank you, but it's better than nothing, which is what we usually get when we shop in person). There are many other high mileage offers as well. Browse.
Categories: Airline Industry News
Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Have a lot of time on your hands in the month ahead? If so, JetBlue is offering a $599 All-You-Can-Jet Pass for one month of unlimited travel, September 8 through October 8. Yep, just make your reservation at least 3-days prior to your trip and, if there's an available seat, you're good to go. This offer is valid for any of JetBlue's destinations, although passengers are expected to pay additional taxes for international flights. For domestic flights, taxes are already included in the price of the pass.
But wait, here's the best part. And feel free to cup your ear and lean in for this: "Customers who already have a flight booked during the pass travel period can pay the difference to upgrade to the pass by calling 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583), prompt 4."
Interested? To take advantage of this deal, you must be a member of JetBLue's TrueBlue frequent flyer program so click here for info.
Pass must be purchased by August 21.
Posted by Alisa B on Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Virgin America, with all the bells and whistles they provide, is set to get you from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale! Non-stop flights on these new routes commence on November 18, 2009 at $198 round trip (taxes and fees additional) if you book by August 25. Advance purchase and other restrictions apply as usual. Seats limited at this fare. Virgin America is boasting almost a million "Elevate" members (Elevate is V.A.'s frequent flyer club for the uninitiated) in just two years. That deserves some bragging rights, so if you haven't yet experienced V.A. flight, maybe the new routes will tempt you!