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It's Official -- Delta Northwest merger is approved

Posted by Jacob Kasnett on Thursday, October 30, 2008

In a statement issued late Wednesday, The US Dept of Justice announced that they have approved the much talked about acquisition of Northwest Airlines by Delta Airlines, which was the final litmus test the deal had to be put through before approval.

The new Delta will remain based in Atlanta. Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce President Sam A. Williams said, "Delta's route structure makes Atlanta the most connected city on earth".It also makes Delta Airlines the world's largest airline.

The combined airline will see approximately $2 Billion annual revenue.Despite a sharp decline in oil prices, down from over $140  a barrel to the current range of $65 per barrel fuel prices are still expensive and airline demand is continuing to fall.

A former CEO of Northwest , will remain as CEO of the new Delta, with his eight most senior officers evenly split among Delta and Northwest executives.

Categories: Airline Industry News

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Back to Belize

If you missed out on American's recent amazing sale to Belize, here's your second chance. The weekend blockbuster bargains that included a $144 round-trip fare from Newark are unfortunately no longer on the table and probably weren't ever meant to be, but as you can see on our Belize page there are still some good deals to be had and not just on American.

Categories: Caribbean/Mexico/Latin America Airfares

Airfarewatchdog UK site launches

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 28, 2008

 Hey, look what we launched this week! It's Airfarewatchdog.co.uk, for the folks in the UK! And it can be a big help to you too, when you're planning your next 'cross-the-pond jaunt. Say you want to fly from your hometown airport to Valletta, Malta but fares are looking impossibly high.

And let's face it: Fares from your town to Malta are probably always going to be a little up there. Ah, but then you notice that the flights from your town to London are totally doable. And how much is it onward from London to Malta? Airfarewatchdog UK has found a $31 round-trip fare from London to Valletta, and that's including all taxes (all fares listed on the UK site are all-inclusive, although be warned, UK airlines have come up with extra fees that we haven't even dreamed of here in the US, such as a fee for checking in at the airport instead of online at home, and using a credit or debit card!).

The same painstaking research, fares that other sites miss

You'll notice that the UK site looks very much like the US site, and that we have low fares and airlines that other sites don't bother with, such as easyJet and Ryanair. When we find a low fare, we send you right along to the selling airline's web site, no middleman. That's because the cheapest UK airlines are just like Southwest and Allegiant here in the US: they only sell their best fares on their own sites.

We've definitely planned our fare share of trips by booking inexpensive connections through London, and saved ourselves a heap of money by doing so. If you've got your eye on a specific destination that you'd like to track fares to via London (Gatwick,StanstedLutonHeathrow, or elsewhere in the UK), sign up for our UK City to City Alerts and/or newsletter.

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

Free Companion Ticket on British Airways

Posted by Jacob Kasnett on Friday, October 24, 2008

British Airways is offering a great deal on flights from the US and Canada. Purchase a round-trip ticket in most classes of service( except non-refundable fares) between now and Dec. 31 2008 (travel for the qualifying ticket must be completed by Dec 31 2008) and receive a voucher by email for a Free companion ticket.

Note: You must be a British Airways "Executive Club" member to take advantage of this special.If you are not a member you can sign up very easily by clicking here.

After signing in as an Executive Club member, you must also REGISTER for this offer as well by clicking here and then going to "Register for offer".

Here is how it works:

1) Buy a round-trip ticket at qualifying World Traveler Fares that must be used by Dec 31, 2008.See British Airways site for details.

2) Get your E-voucher or regular voucher. Takes 6-8 weeks by email and 8 weeks for regular mail.

3) Book a ticket from Jan 5, 2009 until Jun 30, 2009 for travel from Jan 15, 2009 until Dec 15, 2009.Member and companion must book all flights and classes of service together and travel together on all segments.Get companion ticket Free excluding taxes.

Please see British Airways , scroll down and click "Show full terms and conditions"  for complete details.

Categories: Airline Industry News, Europe/Africa/Middle East Airfares

Southwest Promo Code Sale to/from Buffalo!

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Southwest Airlines is having a 50% off sale to/from Buffalo! Book by October 23.

Northwest is matching this sale, without a promo code.

See all the fares on our Buffalo fares page.

 Oh, the promo code is FLYBUF. If you're flexible in your travel dates, use Southwest's "ShortCut" flexible date search to find the cheapest days to fly, and then go here to actually book the flight (the ShortCut does not have a promo code entry box).

Here are Southwest's terms and conditions for this amazing sale:

  • 50% discount valid for use at southwest.com or SWABIZ.com off the total amount of any purchase before taxes and fees.
  • Purchase must be made between October 21, 2008 and October 23, 2008 for travel October 28, 2008 through February 12, 2009.
  • Blackout dates apply November 20, 2008 through December 2, 2008 and December 18, 2008 through January 4, 2009. If any portion of travel falls on a blackout date the discount will not apply.
  • Discount is only valid to/from Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) .
  • The discount is only valid with the provided Promotion Code and is not combinable with other Promotion Codes or fares available exclusively through the web tool "DING!".
  • This promotion does not include Business Select, Anytime, or Senior Fares.
  • Discount does not include taxes and fees.
  • One-way or roundtrip purchase allowed.
  • Changes made to the itinerary after purchase may eliminate qualifications for this promotion.
  • Youth, Child, Infant, Military, and Federal Government Fares are not available for purchase at southwest.com or SWABIZ.com .
  • Reservations made through southwestvacations.com are not eligible for this promotion.

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

Deciphering Airline Fare Codes

Posted by George Hobica on Tuesday, October 21, 2008

By Andrea Bennett

 

Recently, we got an email from Ken, who wrote that he had bought a round-trip ticket from Atlanta to Kuwait from Northwest Airlines, operated by KLM, for the bargain basement price of $1175 round trip (this fare usually starts at $1500). Knowing that a low fare like this would be heavily restricted, he assumed he'd pay a penalty plus the difference in the fare if he needed to change his flight dates. But he didn't expect to be told, "Use it or lose it" by the airline when he tried to make a change, over a week in advance, to fly a day later than his ticket was scheduled. As in: No changes, not even for a penalty, and if you purposely "miss" your flight? No stored value for you. (Incidentally, there were seats available at the same price on the later flight.)

We contacted NWA's call center to ask about the flight and were told, "Well, it was a 'T' fare, so of course he couldn't store the value." Actually, this isn't quite accurate. We checked with NWA spokesperson Michelle Aguayo-Shannon, who confirmed that, while T class fares are usually quite restricted, they're not always "use it or lose it." The lesson here: While it would have been smart to thoroughly check the restrictions first, one class of airfare doesn't always hold the same restrictions within even a single airline. And one airline's "T" fare class could be another airline's "K."

Sound confusing? It can be. And it's certainly possible to simply cruise through airfare booking, never learning a thing about fare codes. But there are a couple of reasons to familiarize yourself with the basics: Anecdotal evidence is that, with airlines cutting capacity and in a constant state of financial flux, you'll be seeing more fares, like Ken's Northwest Airlines fare, that come with far heavier restrictions. Naturally, the most restricted airfares almost always come with the most attractive prices. But if you're always succumbing to price alone, you can miss out on some benefits that come with certain fare classes, such as bonus mile offers, elite status miles, special promotions, or quirky upgrades (which we'll get to later).

Why not just sell first and coach class tickets, and call it a day?

Before we get into the intricacies of class of service codes, here's a little background. Of course you know of the major classes of airline service: first, business, and economy. Those classes are subdivided into a variety of sub-classes: restricted business, full-fare economy, discounted economy, deeply discounted economy, etc., based on restrictions. A full-fare economy ticket will have fewer restrictions, such as advance purchase, minimum stay, or penalty-free refund than a discount economy ticket, but you'll pay for the privilege.

That's the reason you could find yourself sitting next to someone in coach who paid $200 less for his seat than you did, while waiting the same number of infuriating hours on the tarmac and buying the same overpriced snack boxes as you. But we digress. It's all part of inventory control. In order to stay profitable, years ago airlines began subdividing their seats, allocating a certain number of seats (or a "bucket") at each fare level per flight. The number of these seats depends on complicated formulas that factor in the route, the time of year, the expected breakdown of leisure vs. business passengers, and the time of day, among other things. The inventory control department will release certain "buckets" at different times, tightening or loosening the spigot as needed to capture as many potential passengers paying as much as possible. And no, the airlines don't make public how many buckets they've created in any subcategory.

What fare codes look like


The letter that denotes class of service is only one in a string of letters and numbers the airline puts together to describe the fare you've bought. You'll find the fare basis code in the fare basis box on a physical ticket, or on most e-ticket confirmations. Here's an example: Say you bought a ticket with the fare basis code KL14LNR. The letter K refers to the class of service for booking; the L refers to low season; the 14 refers to a 14-day advance booking; and the NR means non-refundable. More than one fare may exist for each class of service. For example, there might be two "K" fares - one for midweek travel and one for weekend travel.

Searching by class

The first letter of the string is the one you'll want to search for. Generally, first class fares are coded as F or P, business class is C or J, and full-fare coach is Y. After that, economy class fares run the gamut of alphabet letters, with the hierarchy varying from one airline to another. Here's a chart of major airlines' codes

 

 

Airline First Restricted First Business Restricted Business Coach
Delta F A J,C D,I Y,B,M,H,Q,K,L,U,T
US Airways F P,A C D,Z Y,B,M,H,Q,N,V,W,U,S,T,G,K,U,E,R
Northwest F F,P J C,Z Y,H,Q,V,K,L,T,V,W
Continental A C,D J Z Y,H,I,K,L,N,O,Q,S,T,U,V,W,X
American F P,A J,D I Y,B,C,G,H,K,L,M,N,Q,S,V,W
United F P,A C,D Z Y,B,M,H,K,L,Q,V,W,U,T,S



Next, we'll tell you all about how to search for airfares by fare class, why and how to buy Q-UP, Y-UP, and Z-UP upgradeable airfares.


 


 

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

Categories: Airfare Tips

Relief from Fuel Surcharges?

Posted by Jonathan Weinberg on Tuesday, October 21, 2008

With the recent drop in the price of oil, some European airlines have begun to cut those fuel surcharges that help push the price of an airline ticket into the stratosphere.  British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM have all reduced their surcharges on passenger tickets, while other foreign and domestic carriers, including Northwest, have cut their fuel charges on air cargo.

Domestic U.S. carriers however, have been reluctant to make similar reductions, arguing that the price of jet fuel remains too volatile to predict reliably over the next few months.  Delta has started to relax surcharges on some international flights, but so far they have been reluctant to do so domestically.  Despite lower fuel costs, the industry still expects to post a collective loss of about $6 billion for 2008.

Robert Menendez, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey sent a letter to 11 U.S. airlines on Monday requesting they discontinue the surcharges and other fuel-related fees.  "I urge you to pass the savings from lower jet fuel prices on to the American public by rolling back fuel surcharges and extra fees," Mr. Menendez said in his letter. "If you tell the public that you need long-term higher prices to survive, I urge you at the very least to do it directly through fares, rather than a collection of confusing and hidden fees."

While it looks like new fees for things like baggage, food, drinks and pillows and blankets are here to stay, passengers *may* get a reprieve from fuel surcharges in the near future.  Now that the price of oil is dropping, should US domestic carriers respond in kind and reduce or eliminate the fuel surcharge?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Categories: Domestic US Fares, Airline Industry News

$30 off select JetBlue flights.

Posted by George Hobica on Monday, October 13, 2008

JetBlue is offering $30 off certain routes for travel between Oct 23 and Dec 15, except, you guessed it, peak Thanksgiving travel (Nov 21- Dec 2). Use promo code JetOct08 on this page.

The eligible routes are listed below in airline code.

 

Terms and Conditions:
*Offer ends October 16, 2008 at 11:59 PM MT. Promotion/Discount Codes may not be combined and is not valid for travel outside the continental United States, on intra-California routes, or on any of the following routes in either direction:

BOSAUA/BOSBDA/BOSCUN/BOSNAS/BOSSDQ/BOSSJU/BOSSTI/BQNFLL/BQNPSE/MCOBOG/

EWRSJU/FLLPSE/FLLSJU/IADCUN/IADSJU/JFKAUA/JFKBDA/JFKBQN/JFKCUN/JFKNAS/JFKPOP/

JFKPSE/JFKSDQ/JFKSJU/JFKSTI/JFKSXM/MCOBQN/MCOCUN/MCOPSE/MCOSDQ/MCOSJU/SJUSDQ/

TPACUN/LGBOAK/LGBSFO/LGBSJC/LGBSMF/LGBLAS/SLCLAS/BURLAS/BOSSAN/BOSLGB/BOSDEN/

JFKDEN/JFKSFO/JFKLAS/BOSLAS

Code is valid for $30 off of r/t travel that is purchased by October 16, 2008, 11:59 PM MT, for travel between October 23, 2008 and December 15, 2008. Blackout dates are between November 21, 2008 and December 2, 2008. Discount will be deducted off of base fare. If Discount Code travel is changed outside of this window or cancelled, discount will be forfeited and you will be responsible for the fare difference plus $100 change/cancel fee per person. Cancellations are for a JetBlue travel credit only, which is valid for one year. If a reservation is not changed or canceled prior to scheduled departure, all money associated with the reservation is forfeited. Discount may be used only toward newly-booked travel and may not be applied to existing travel or changes to travel. Discount may not be redeemed for cash. Discount may be used only for flight purchase made via jetblue.com. Discount codes are transferable. Discount may not be used in conjunction with other special offers or towards the purchase of a JetBlue Gift Card, Getaways vacation packages, JetBlue Cruise or already booked flights. All fares must be purchased at time of reservation, and are one-way, and nontransferable.

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

Consolidator Airfares, Part 2

Posted by George Hobica on Sunday, October 12, 2008

By Andrea Bennett

Part 2 of a 2-part article (read Part 1)

 

What's Your Best Chance of Finding the Fares?

According to both Harrell and Rholl, the best times to find  consolidator fares are when 1) you're traveling coach internationally, 2) you're traveling last-minute, or 3) both. Because consolidators don't actually buy the seats, they're usually granted their window of opportunity early in the booking process (to fill up a limited number of seats to hedge the airline's bet on passengers) or late (to make up for the passengers the airline estimated would book, but didn't). Your travel agent can even find consolidator business class seats last minute, for up to a 50% discount.


What Do Consolidator Fares "Act" Like?


You may think that because you're getting a bargain basement price, your consolidator ticket will be nonrefundable, non-changeable, won't allow you to make advance seat assignments, won't let you earn miles - a heavily restricted "use it or lose it" ticket. That's usually not the case (and yes, you'll almost always earn your miles), but you DO need to ask your travel agent for up-front restriction information. Consolidator fares generally act like those discounted economy class tickets of the lower echelons, and carry similar restrictions. That's why some travelers are convinced they've bought consolidator fares on airline websites -  but they haven't. American Airlines spokesman Ned Raynolds confirmed that the airlines aren't allowed to sell unpublished fares themselves.

The problem with bulk fares often doesn't lie with the restrictions themselves, but the capacity that the consolidator has been granted by the airline. For example, say you bought a consolidator ticket as a "T" class (generally one of the lowest of the low airfare classes). If you bought it and the airline then closes out the consolidator's "bucket," you won't be able to change it, even if the airline still has "T" class tickets of its own to sell. IF the consolidator has similarly restricted tickets like "L" or "K" class, you might be able to swap them, through your agent, but only if the consolidator's window is still open.

Similarly, say you bought a discounted "Q" class ticket directly from the airline. If you wanted to change it and that particular class was sold out, you could ask the airline to let you pay the difference and a penalty to upgrade to a full-fare, unrestricted "Y" class ticket. You won't be able to do that with a consolidator fare. The other restriction you'll find across the board: You'll never be able to upgrade your ticket using miles.  The lesson: You'd better be sure that your consolidator ticket is the one you want, because you're most likely stuck with it.


What About Consolidators That Sell on the Web?

Not a good idea. Consolidators simply aren't built for customer service. As we mentioned before, through years of relationship-building, your travel agent has a much better grasp of which consolidators are good, and which ones are shady, than you do. Consolidators themselves can't really offer you any guarantees on your fare. Big consolidators have a lot of sway with the airlines because of the volume they do, so they can often help (but the reputable ones will only deal with your travel agent). If something goes wrong with a consolidator ticket you've bought through a trusted agency, the agency should absorb your loss. According to Simon Bramley, head of pricing for Travelocity, the Travelocity Guarantee to "make things right" would function this way, buffering you from a loss if something should happen to one of the consolidator fares it offers through its site (you'll usually spot these marked as "exclusives," and all restrictions are listed before you purchase). And as always, you'll want to ensure every purchase by using a credit, not a debit card, so you can take it up with the credit card company if the deal goes south.


Comparison Shopping

The inevitable truth is that you'll want to shop around. Airlines, in an effort to drive customers to their own sites, now offer low fare guarantees. That means that even if you find an "exclusive" consolidator fare online, the airline will more than likely match or beat it. Domestic consolidator fares have been all but completely squeezed out by the Internet, and because airlines are decreasing capacity (mostly domestically), you'll find even fewer for US-only flights. Rholl notes that airlines now release prices to consolidators that are exactly the same as published fares. Of course, you always have the option of searching the consolidators that sell online, and then mitigating your risk by asking your travel agent to find the fare for you. Like all fares worth finding, locating them will take a search.  

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

Today on Travelocity: Where are they coming up with these fares?

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's been a zany day for fare finding here at Airfarewatchdog headquarters. The culprit? Wishy-washy fares on Travelocity. What appeared to be some pretty terrific fares from Northwest this morning made quite a leap in price whenever we attempted to actually book anything. And this afternoon, we're seeing the same thing from American Airlines. For example, Los Angeles to Wichita has a base fare of $224 round-trip, but try and book it and you'll see it jump to $294 after taxes and fees. We even saw a $344 base fare jump to $485. Obviously, taxes and Travelocity fees don't quite explain all of that mystery number. Is there a new secret fee they aren't telling folks about? Whatever is afoot, be wary of whatever amazingly low fares should appear in your search results on Travelocity today. Save the oohs and ahhhs until you see that final number at booking time.

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

Categories: Airline Industry News, Airfare Tips
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