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Fare of the Day: Minneapolis to Boise

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, August 30, 2010

Minneapolis to Boise $195 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Nearly $80 less than last week's Frontier sale! Travel through December 15, Mondays through Thursdays, as well as Saturdays. Avoid Thanksgiving blackout dates.

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


Fare of the Day, Take Two: DC, Chicago to Rio de Janeiro

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, August 27, 2010

Washington DC to Rio de Janeiro $577 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Valid for travel 7 days a week, with a minimum stay of 3 nights. Requires a 3 day advance purchase. Travel by December 15.

We've also found a similar deal from Chicago for $606 round-trip, incl. all taxes.

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

Fare of the Day: Sioux Falls to Dallas

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Friday, August 27, 2010

Sioux Falls to Dallas $196 round-trip, incl. all taxes

A pretty good deal on this route, which has dropped by about $200! Valid for travel Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with a 330-day travel period and no minimum stay. Requires a 7-day advance purchase.

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

Why you sometimes need to play travel agent

By George Hobica

It's a dirty little secret in the airfare search business, but consumers around the world waste millions of their hard earned dollars by overspending on airfare because current airfare search technology is far from perfect. We were reminded of this again today when we noticed a classic fare war between American and United on routes from each others' hubs (Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Washington) to Honolulu (both airlines reduced fares to around $420 round-trip including tax, with virtually no restrictions--no minimum stay, no advance purchase, travel over a 330-day period).

But what if you actually wanted to go to Kona, Hawaii, rather than Honolulu, from, say, Miami? Well, all the usual airfare search suspects would have told you that the cheapest way to get there would cost you $688 round-trip including tax (we used travel dates in October in our sample query). Savvy traveler that you are, you know that doesn't make sense. Surely it doesn't cost $268 to travel round-trip inter-island.

Trouble is, many, if not most, consumers aren't as savvy as you are, and they're going to book that fare. Fact is, you can fly between Honolulu and Kona almost year round for $150 round-trip including tax on two airlines (and local residents know that there are even cheaper deals available, at least for Hawaiian residents). So most people (calculators please!) end up paying $118 more than they should. If you're a family of four or a group, that price difference can add up.

The issue here is that no current airfare search technology (and that includes Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz, you name it) can figure out fares this way, and there are thousands of route combinations where buying two separate fares will save you money, sometimes much more than $118.

Flying from New York to Eleuthera? Try JetBlue to Nassau and then Nassau to Governors Harbour on Bahamasair and you might save hundreds. Flying to Asia? You might find a web-only deal on to Singapore and then hop on a next-to-nothing flight to Phuket via (at this writing, flights from Singapore to Thailand are running 49 Singapore dollars, or about $36 USD).

The good news is that airfare geeks are working on this and other problems. A company called Vayant Travel Technologies, which is billing itself as ITA Software "plus", claims that there is a "better way to search for and price itineraries, and [we] have found it". And since ITA Software, along with ATPCO, powers most airfare search in North America and indeed many other regions, it's time someone took airfare search to the next level and showed consumers how to save some serious money.

We haven't had a chance to test drive this new technology but we do wish them luck and hope they live up to their potential. Meanwhile, you'll have to use your noggin when it hits you that an airfare you see just doesn't make sense, and make sure you're getting the lowest fares available by combining flights on different airlines. That's what a good travel agent used to do, but the internet has put many of them out of business. If you have one, grapple him or her to thy soul with hoops of steel.

Fare of the Day: Houston to Ontario

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Houston to Ontario $173 round-trip, incl. all taxes

This fare is valid for travel 7 days a week, with a 330-day travel period. Requires a 14-day advance purchase. No minimum stay. Seats are scarce.

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

Fare of the Day: San Jose to St Louis

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Tuesday, August 24, 2010

San Jose to St Louis $167 round-trip, incl. all taxes

This fare is valid for travel 7 days a week, from December through April 2011. Not available on all dates.

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

Fare of the Day: Miami to Albuquerque

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Monday, August 23, 2010

Miami to Albuquerque $172 round-trip, incl. all taxes

Valid for travel 7 days a week, with a 330-day travel period. No minimum stay.

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

Categories: Airfare Tips

How to avoid a $100,000 airfare

By Carl Unger

Emergency medical evacuation is a product most people probably don't think they need. It sounds almost exotic, as if one's trip would need to be inherently dangerous to justify the purchase.

Well, think again. Emergency medical evacuation is far from necessary for every vacation, but travelers concerned about potential health problems or accidents, or who are traveling to relatively remote destinations or even just taking a cruise, may feel a bit more comfortable knowing they can easily and affordably get to a health care center in the case of a medical emergency. And speaking of affordability, consider that a domestic medical evacuation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it can be over a $100,000 for international evacuations.

There are three main players in the emergency medical evaluation business: MedJet Assist, AirMed, and a newcomer, On Call International, which previously only sold coverage to travel insurance companies as a wholesaler. Each program offers annual subscriptions and individual trip coverage options, but the products differ somewhat, as you'll see in this chart.

Still, you can expect a similar set of benefits, not just medical evacuation, but also "family reunion" transportation (when a spouse or other relative needs to join or travel with an ill or injured family member), medical monitoring/consultation, and travel assistance services such as cash advances and legal consultation.

There are a few things to look for when purchasing this kind of service. First, you probably want a program that will bring you to your hospital of choice—anything else sort of defeats the purpose. You'll also want to make sure there are no restrictions on pre-existing conditions, lest you risk being denied transport when injury or illness befalls you. If there are any such restrictions, it should go without saying that you read them thoroughly. Keep in mind that none of the big three evacuation providers provide transport for conditions or hospitalizations already in effect when a customer enrolls in their program. So no breaking your leg before your trip and then signing up for an airlift!

Lastly, make sure you completely understand how the evacuation procedure works. Who decides when an evacuation is necessary? What circumstances qualifies a person for evacuation? Can customers literally be evacuated from anywhere on the globe to any medical facility they choose? One distinction between On Call and its competitors is that it provides coverage starting at 50 miles from home, versus 150 miles for the other two firms. That might not sound like a big difference, unless you're, say, a Manhattan resident who becomes suddenly ill late at night on Fire Island, a barrier island which is just 60 miles from the New York City.

Remember, also, that none of these companies' offerings should be confused with medical insurance, and in virtually all cases, your medical insurance provider does not cover emergency evacuation needs. The two will work in tandem to cover the transportation and medical expenses incurred should you end up in the hospital while traveling.

So again, while medical evacuation coverage is not something most people really need, some travelers may appreciate having in their back pocket.

Express Seats from American Airlines

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not a fan of mob scenes at the gate? Then you're probably not all that fond of the long wait to deplane either. Sure, a seat in Business Class would remedy both, but...meh...too much money. American Airlines now offers a compromise by way of their new Express Seats option, allowing passengers to purchase seats in the first few rows of Coach, including bulkhead. Passengers booked in Express Seats are also boarded in Group 1 of general boarding, meaning less time spent waiting in a crowded gate, less time spent waiting to deplane.

Express Seats are available exclusively for sale at the self-service kiosks upon check-in at the airport, anytime from 24 hours to 50 minutes prior to departure, only for domestic travel.

Pricing will vary by destination and length of flight, though lists the following "introductory" examples:

$19 for St. Louis to Chicago O'Hare
$29 for San Francisco to Dallas/Fort Worth
$29 for Boston to Chicago O'Hare
$39 for New York JFK to Los Angeles
$39 for Chicago O'Hare to Honolulu

Not entirely unreasonable we suppose. What do you think? Would you fork up $78 for a round-trip flight for the privilege of sitting in "upper" Coach?

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fly from Los Angeles to Rarotonga, Cook Islands for $642 round-trip, nonstop, incl. all taxes. This fare is part of a soon-to-expire promotion from Air New Zealand, so don't miss out!

Offer is valid for departures from August 15 through October 31. Tickets require a 2-day advance purchase, with a minimum stay of 6 days and an allowed maximum of 6 months. Fare may not be available on all dates.

If you're feeling especially fancy, Business Class fares are also discounted to $1,586 before taxes.

Hurry hurry! This offer expires August 23.

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

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