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Delta pre-bumps passenger from nonstop flight, update

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Readers of this blog may have seen the entry and subsequent comments detailing the travails of my friend Lew who found a $138 RT New York-Denver nonstop fare on Delta for peak holiday travel.

Lew had a confirmed e-ticket, roundtrip nonstops in both directions, but about two months before departure, Delta called him to inform him that they were now putting him on connecting flights, meaning that his total travel time was longer. The new outbound flight would leave JFK two hours earlier, at an inconvenient 6 AM.

Some of the comments on that previous entry insisted that he must not have had a confirmed ticket. But he did. It wasn't a reservation that he had on hold. He bought it directly from Another comment suggested that if he called Delta, they would rescind their decision and put him back on the nonstop. That didn't happen. He called Delta again last night, and this is what he told me they told him:

"The Delta reservationist I spoke to said that, 'Well, you were on the lowest of low fares. But coach seats on the nonstop are now sold out. However, you could buy a business class fare, seats are still available.' Needless to say, I'm not going to do that."

When I checked last week, coach seats on his flight were still available, but for over $600.

Imagine, if you will, that you renovate your kitchen, and you specify and buy granite countertops, and a few weeks before the installation the contractor tells you, "I'm substituting Formica. But you're still going to be charged the same price we agreed on." That's essentially what Delta did.

Follow up (Nov. 1)

After writing a reasonable email to Delta, and calling them again, our friend Lew was re-instated on Delta's nonstop. Lew, in his letter, avoided saying, "I'll never fly Delta again!" which would give them no incentive for helping him. So this story had a happy ending, but it took a lot of work and had Lew given up on his first attempt he'd still be crossing his fingers that he made his tight connections.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News


New Jet Blue Sale not stunning

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 30, 2007

JetBlue has announced yet another 4-day sale, suggesting that airline traffic must need a boost. One wonders how the spectre of $100 oil and a housing recession will affect airfare prices and airline profits.

New York to Vegas and the West Coast is now $298 RT plus tax in this sale, a slight savings from previous levels, and hardly the lowest fares we've seen on these routes, but these are nonstop fares, so that's added value.

East Coast to Florida starts at $59 each way (Newark to Ft. Lauderdale for example). Florida fares have the following restriction: requires a 7-day advance purchase. Travel must be completed by April 30, 2008. Travel to Florida is permitted Sunday through Wednesday. Travel from Florida is permitted Tuesday through Friday.

New York JFK to Aruba nonstop is good at $139 each way plus tax. This fare requires a 7-day advance purchase. Tickets must be purchased on or before November 01, 2007. Travel must take place on or after December 01, 2007. Travel must be completed by January 30, 2008. Travel to Aruba must take place Monday through Wednesday. Travel from Aruba must take place Tuesday through Thursday.

This sale ends on Nov. 1 midnight ET. And you still have until October 31 midnight ET to buy some of these fares for $30 less RT if you use your Amex card to buy them. Travel at this discount is only available, however, until Nov. 14.



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

Categories: Domestic US Fares, Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares

JetBlue may fly to Bogota next year

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, October 28, 2007

According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, JetBlue has "filed" for authority to fly between both Orlando and Ft. Lauderale to Bogota, Columbia. The airline hopes to begin service from Orlando next April and from FLL in October 2008. Read Sam Sellers' commentary in the Airline Bulletin blog.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

20% off sale between US 48 states and Canada

Posted by George Hobica on Friday, October 26, 2007

American Airlines is offering 20% off flights between the lower 48 US states and the following Canadian cities: Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto, until Monday. Use promo code DFGHOST when booking on Travel Oct 29 to Nov 14 only, and please note that all advance purchase restrictions apply, meaning that you'll get the lowest fares if you start your travel 14 days ahead of date of purchase on most fares. We found, for example, Boston to Vancouver for $485 RT, a savings of $118, departing on Nov 9 and returning Nov 14, and, same dates of travel Vancouver to Miami for $621 RT, saving $151 RT. Obviously, if another airline has fares more than 20% lower than American's, you'll want to go with that airline. This sale ends on Monday Oct 29.

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

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Save 20% on flights to Canada on AA

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Friday, October 26, 2007

American Airlines is having a great 20% off insider sale from the US to the Canada on flights to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Halifax, and Ottawa.

This offer is valid for through travel through 11/14/07, and must be booked by Monday, 10/29. The minimum base fare for travel must be at least $200 r/t to be eligible for the discount.

Book at using the promotion code DFGHOST.

Categories: Domestic US Fares, Domestic Canadian Fares

AA 20% off sale to New Orleans, Orlando, and Vegas

Posted by George Hobica on Friday, October 26, 2007

American Airlines is taking a page out of Southwest's play book by launching sales that can only be booked on American's site.

They're offering 20% off flights between the lower 48 states and Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Orlando until Monday. Use promo code DFGHOST when booking on Travel Oct 29 to Nov 14 only, and please note that all advance purchase restrictions apply, meaning that you'll get the lowest fares if you start your travel 14 days ahead of date of purchase. We found, for example, New Orleans to Las Vegas for $221 plus tax leaving Nov 9 and returning Nov 13 or 14, a savings of $56 RT. This sale ends on Oct 29, midnight CT. Some routes are excluded from this sale.


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

Categories: Domestic US Fares

Delta bait and switch: airline puts passenger on a connecting flight after he buys a nonstop

Posted by George Hobica on Thursday, October 25, 2007

When Lew Davis, an educator based in New York City, saw a $138 RT fare from New York JFK to Denver on a nonstop flight for peak Christmas travel (leaving a few days before Christmas and coming back just after New Year's Day), he naturally jumped on it.

Even better, the flight left JFK at a reasonable hour in the morning, giving him plenty of time to get to the airport.

But he was in for a surprise: a couple of weeks ago, Delta called him and told him he was now on a flight leaving JFK around 6 AM, and he'd have to make a connection both coming and going. Worse, Davis is now flying on regional jets, instead of a big jet.

Naturally, he's not pleased. There are still seats left on the Delta nonstop, but they're selling for over $600 RT for Davis' itinerary. It's pretty clear what happened here: Delta kicked Davis off of the nonstop, and will now sell seats at a much higher fare than he paid to last minute purchasers.

Why we need airline regulation

Can you imagine any other industry getting away with this garbage? Imagine if you bought a TV from Best Buy and then, 2 months later, someone calls you to explain that they're substituting a TV of much lesser value. "We'll be over in a hour to swap it out."

Or you sit down to a restaurant, waiting for your rib eye, and the waiter explains that the restaurant just ran out of steak, and another diner has offered to pay more for your meal. So you're going to get a hamburger instead. For the same price as rib eye (I'm equating connecting flights with hamburger, as you can see). This is BS. There really ought to be a law. And I mean a law, passed by Congress.

I can understand, maybe, if Delta had scrubbed nonstop flights from their JFK DEN schedule. But this is not the case.

Too many airlines are getting away with too much of this sort of thing. Another example is when they do in fact scrub a flight from their schedule, forcing travelers to buy much more expensive fares at the last minute. In these cases, airlines should honor the original fare, even if they have to find seats on another airline.

Has this sort of thing happened to you? Feel free to leave a comment.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News

25% Off Caribbean Fares on American, winter travel!

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

American Airlines is having a great 25% off insider sale to the Caribbean including St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Croix, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. Use discount code DFSTSDEAL on only. The discount does not apply for travel November 24-26, December 19-24, December 26-27, December 29-January 6, and Saturdays. You must book by October 29 and travel from November 22 to February 13. If we were venal moneygrubbers, we would not tell you about this deal, because American doesn't pay us a cent for sending them business. But of course, we're not venal moneygrubbers.

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

Categories: Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares

Take a Leave in Tel Aviv

Finding a cheap seat to Tel Aviv is never easy and El Al's so-called sale fares don't do a whole lot to change that, but in honor of their current sale we're having a bit of an El Al tell-all which is really more about what the competition has to offer.

This said, if you hurry you can still catch this one-shot non-stop El Al deal on a couple of days in early December when they're handing out a handful of tickets with everything included for $920 round-trip from New York and Newark. That's about a $120 less than the going rate for non-stop flights—matched by Continental—although it's still $120 more than Iberia's connecting service.

Iberia also has some good fares from Chicago, Miami and Orlando, whereas Air France-KLM will get you out of Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle for less. From Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and Washington you may have more choices, but your best bet is to go Swiss, while in Canada there's always, you know, Air Canada from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Be sure to check out the fare page for any of these cities, especially since we sometimes have multiple fares listed.

Categories: Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares

Which booking sites exclude which airlines?

Posted by George Hobica on Monday, October 22, 2007

Many consumers assume that their favorite airfare booking engine or "aggregator" includes fares on all airlines. This simply ain't so. Airfarewatchdog researchers have found that some sites exclude certain airlines, either because these airlines only sell seats on their own site, or sometimes because the airline refuses to pay the aggregator or online travel agency (OTA) a fee for listing its fares. And this can change over time. A site may list an airline temporarily in order to demonstrate the financial consequences of being delisted, but usually the banished airline won't budge anyway. (JetBlue's fares seem to come and go on Orbitz, for instance.) 

Or an airline may add or remove its fares owing to a dispute over commissions. A couple of years ago, United's fares mysteriously disappeared from Travelocity for several weeks. We suspect but cannot prove that this was a commission spat. Travelocity did not offer an explanation as to why this happened. And we wouldn't be surprised to see Virgin America's fares popping up on more sites in the future as the new carrier gains traction.

As an interesting side note, Kayak has been playing a cat and mouse game with Southwest over the last few months. Their flights, but not fares, will pop up briefly and then disappear in a flash when doing a search from, say, Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale, a route that Southwest services. You'll see an "info" icon but no prices or other information. (Southwest explicitly prohibits using their Web site to mechanically "scrape" or monitor fare or other information.)

Here's a partial list of airlines that are excluded from the fare listings of various online airfare booking sites. If you discover others, let us know.

Orbitz: Sun Country, Jet Blue, Southwest, SkyBus, Allegiant, USA3000

Travelocity: Southwest, SkyBus, Allegiant, Virgin America

Kayak: Southwest, SkyBus, Allegiant, USA3000

Expedia: Southwest, SkyBus, Allegiant, Virgin America, Spirit, USA3000

Sidestep: Southwest, SkyBus, Allegiant, Virgin America, USA3000

 In addition to this list, it's important to note that many international, and some domestic, airlines reserve their best fares for their own web sites, even if they do list most of their fares with a third party site. For example, even though Spirit lists its fares with Expedia, you won't find its 1 cent, 2 cent, and $1 fares listed anywhere but on Spirit's site. Alaska Airlines lists with virtually all OTAs, but has frequent 20% off sales that you'll find only on their site. Speaking of which, you won't find this 25% off sale to the Caribbean anywhere but on American's site. Check it out. For winter travel.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News
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