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Entries for the 'Air Travel' Category
Q. My girlfriend and I are flying from Phoenix to New York City in mid-May, and we'd ilke to visit DC for a few days too. What's the best way to go about this? Train? Bus? Plane?
A. We'd choose Amtrak over flying between NYC and DC, any day, hands down. You can leave straight from Manhattan's Penn Station to DC's Union Station, both of which are incredibly convenient and easily accessible by public transport. By the time you factor in airport traffic, check-in, security lines, both trips will run you about the same in travel time, but we find the train to be, well, way less annoying. Relaxing, even! Sure, Penn Station has all the charm of a gas station toilet, but, eh. Can't win 'em all. Union Station on the other hand? Pretty snazzy stuff!
Q: We booked our flights from SFO to London using Delta SkyMiles and were put on Continental flights thru Houston. The SFO to Houston leg was changed slightly giving us only a 30 minute connection in Houston. I called Continental about my concern over the very short connect time to go from domestic terminal C to International E in only 30 minutes. They said that 30 minutes was the minimum connect time and we should probably make it.
A: No, 30 minutes is probably not enough time to make that connection, what is Continental thinking? Especially if the incoming flight is late. I would keep calling the OnePass service desk (at least once a day) trying to get an earlier flight into Houston (any earlier flight, not just the one with 90 minutes connection time) using miles. Ask to speak to a supervisor and explain the situation. Even if you were somehow to make the tight connection, you'd be so frazzled that it would take you 24 hours to recover! When last we checked, standby travel is not allowed on Continental frequent flyer tickets, although this may have changed (other airlines allow this but charge up to $50 per passenger).
Q: I flew on Spirit from Florida to Puerto Rico. It was the best fare I found. Now, I receive periodic emails proclaiming rediculously low fares - such as $9 each way. I have not had the time to pursue the factualness of these claims. Is there anything to these low fares? What kinds of restrictions?
A: Yes, you can really book those fares, but typically there are only available on a few travel days (sometimes as few as 4 days in each direction). Sometimes it's hard to create a reasonable 7 to 10 day itinerary and get the $9 fare in both directions (you might need to stay a month, for example, to get $18 round trip), but you'll save money anyway.
Also, sometimes you need to be a member of Spirit's $9 Fare Club in order to get these deals. Airfarewatchdog joined the club in order to be able to test these fares, and we do indeed find they're available as long as you are flexible in your travel dates and book your seats as soon as the sale is announced.
Q: Do airlines allow passengers to bring their own booze onto the plane? I was thinking of putting some shot bottles of alcohol into my carryon and mixing my own drinks. Will the TSA object to this? What are the rules?
A: As long as the bottles are 3 ounces or less, the TSA won't object. Airlines are another matter. In general, they have rules that only flight attendants are allowed to serve alcohol. (This is no doubt to ensure that passengers don't get plastered and unruly, although truth be told it does eat into their onboard sales.) Technically, if you bring booze on board, some airlines require that you hand it over to the flight attendant, but what busy flight attendant is going to want to be mixing you free cocktails on demand? In practice, probably no one is going to bother you if you quietly add some vodka to your bloody Mary mix. Just drink sensibly and be discreet.
Q. I want to fly from Burlington VT to Philadelphia. Nonstop fares are $800 RT. Burlington to Newark is $280 RT nonstop. Burlington to Newark with a connection in Philadelphia is $200 RT. So why can't I just get off in Philadelphia?
A: Because if you buy a round-trip ticket, they will cancel your return flights, should you get off in Philadelphia. If the ticket is sold one way, and you're only going one-way, then yes, you can theoretically do this, but the airlines frown on this practice because it depletes their revenue. What can they do about it? Nothing, legally, but they might kick you out of their frequent flyer program or take similar actions within their powers. And in fact, that route is sometimes as low as $200 RT anyway, if you wait for an unadvertised sale. And Burlington to Baltimore is usually around $100 RT, so you might consider flying into BWI and taking Amtrak up to Philadelphia.
Q: Hi there, I'm a frequent user of airfarewatchdog, and was delighted to find that you had links to a relatively inexpensive flight to D.C. However, when I clicked through to Travelocity to purchase the ticket, I could only buy 1 (needed 2). If I tried to order 2, the price went up. I called Travelocity and the guy said he guessed the flights were full and I was looking at the last seat. Frustrated, I called Delta and was able to get 2 tickets on what the agent said was a nearly empty flight. Could you talk with Travelocity and ask why a purchaser can't purchase more than one ticket? (I can see that they don't want people buying up the farm, but 2 tix? C'mon!) Thanks, Alisan
A: You can buy more than one seat on Travelocity, but not if you go through our "deep" links directly, which are set for one seat. We provide these links to show you a calendar of when fares are most likely available, which saves frustration (we hope).
To get two seats, find the dates you want at the fare you want, make a note of them, and then click on the home tab in the upper left corner of the Travelocity page and then you will be able to choose any number of adults, minors, and seniors you need. This same procedure applies to Orbitz and other sites.
Q: I purchased 5 tickets from Detroit to Orlando on nwa.com 5 days ago. When I checked Northwest site yesterday the tickets have gone down in price for the same flight number, same times and everything. I printed a copy of their website showing the new price and submitted a claim. Are they supposed to give me the difference or a voucher since the travel dates are not until May and the ticket prices have already dropped?
A: As far as we know, Northwest will issue you a voucher good for future travel for up to a year in the amount of the price drop, minus a $50 fee. This fee used to be $25 on domestic fares, and airlines change these price drop refund policies often.
Until a few months ago, US Air offered price drop refunds without a fee, but now they, as do many larger airlines, charge $100. Only United, Alaska, and Southwest, as far as we know, do not deduct a fee in these situations, but that too could change. We're talking here only about non-refundable tickets. If you buy full fare tickets, you always get a refund with no change fee. And the above is always assuming that there is no change in flights or days of travel. Only the fare may have changed.
Q: We are looking to go to Europe (Barcelona) for the month of July (from
A: Even last summer, we saw a few scattered sales to Europe for summer travel.
We saw New York to Paris for $298 RT on Air France including all taxes for July travel for instance, which was amazing. We saw Seattle to Germany for $450 RT for summer travel. Both of these unadvertised sales only lasted a few days. Miracles do happen.
With the recession looming, I'm guessing that traffic will be off and airlines may lower fares a bit. Fares have been kept high by Europeans visiting the US in record numbers thanks to the weak dollar. I'd just keep checking for the next few months. I seriously doubt fares are going to go a lot higher than they are now, and they are indeed high. Also, oil will probably come down thanks to weak economic activity and that will give the airlines some breathing room. Be sure to use a flexible date search on Orbitz.com, and also check Lessno.com.
Q: What are the advantages and risks involved in buying a consolidator fare?
A: Consolidator fares (wholesale fares not listed on the major booking engines) are often cheaper than "published" fares, but there are risks involved in buying them. Consolidators have been known to go out of business, leaving consumers stranded. Plus, you may not get advance seat assignments or frequent flyer miles.
More importantly, often you must use a consolidator ticket on the exact dates and flights you originally purchased, with no changes allowed even if you wish to pay a penalty. It's use it or lose it. And if the fare goes down between the time you buy and the day of your flight, you may not be able to apply for a refund as you would, say, with an international fare bought directly from United Airlines (which refunds fare drops without extracting a fee).
Q: I plan to do a lot of travel this year and to bring various sporting equipment along, a bike on one trip, a fishing rod on another, etc. Is this stuff subject to extra baggage fees, and if so, can you give me a rundown on which airlines might charge less than others?
A: Sporting equipment is subject to overweight and oversize fees, and many airlines also charge fees for certain types of sporting equipment. Typically, charges are $50 to $80 per item. Here's a partial list of the fees. As you can see, Southwest may be your best bet if they fly where you're going.
Alaska Airlines imposes an excess charge on sporting equipment that’s checked in addition to the free baggage allowance, and the airline won’t accept items over 115 linear inches or 100 pounds as checked baggage. In addition, the carrier charges a $50 fee for bicycles, pole vaulting equipment, and windsurfing equipment.
On AirTran, sporting equipment costs $65 per item if it is in excess of the free baggage allowance, and certain items—bicycles, scuba gear, surfboards—are not included in free baggage allowance. Each of these pieces of equipment will be assessed a $65 fee. Allegiant charges $50 each way for bicycles, surfboards, windsurfing boards, fishing rods, vaulting poles and gun boxes.
Air Canada passengers should register certain sporting equipment, such as skis and hockey sticks, to avoid oversize fees, and sporting equipment items are counted as pieces of luggage. Air Canada also charges extra handling fees for certain items. A bicycle or surfboard runs you $50 on one-way flights as well as each-way on round-trip and multi-segment flights, firearms are $50, and antlers cost $150 one way. American Airlines charges $80 for checking antlers, bicycles, hang gliders, javelins, scuba gear, surfboards, and windsurf/kitesurf boards.
ATA charges $50 for bicycles, kayaks, rafts, pole vaults, surfboard, and windsurfing equipment. Continental also charges special fees for sporting equipment and other items. Antlers, for example, will set you back $95. If you’re flying Delta, empty scuba dive tanks and windsurfing equipment are both subject to a $100 charge, and checking surf boards between Maui and Honolulu costs $20 each way.
On Frontier, antlers cost $75, and a surfboard, kiteboard or wave skis will run you $50. Bicycles are also $50 each, except for children’s bicycles not exceeding 62 linear inches or 50 pounds, which may be checked in place of one free bag.
JetBlue charges fees for some sporting equipment. Bicycles cost $50 each way per bike on domestic flights and $80 each way per bike on international flights. Surfboards, which can be checked on domestic flights only, cost $25 per board each way. Windsurfing equipment costs $50 in each direction.
If you’re flying Midwest, bicycles are $80 each way per bike.
On Northwest, bicycles will run you $80 each for bikes number 1-6 in the U.S. and Canada, and $180 each for 7 or more bicycles. Transatlantic bike fees are $150 per bicycle each way, and if you’re heading across the Pacific the fee is generally $130 each way per bicycle. On Transatlantic flights, golf bags as an additional piece of luggage are a flat fee of $75. Scuba equipment that includes an empty dive tank and surfing equipment is $80 each way in the U.S., more internationally. Vaulting poles can only be checked in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island and Canada, and there’s an $80 fee each way for each pole. Surfing equipment is $80 in each direction on domestic flights, more on international ones.
If you’re flying Skybus, oversize sports equipment such as bicycles, snowboards, surfboards, skis and fishing rods cost $25 each for each trip segment.
On Southwest, windsurfing boards, surfboards, vaulting poles, bicycles and life rafts may be transported for $50 in each direction.
On Spirit, special handing charges apply for surfboards, scuba tanks and bikes, which are $50 each way. United says it has special handing fees for antlers, bicycles, cellos, surfboards, sailboards, and scuba gear.
US Airways charges $80 in each direction for antlers, bicycles, kayaks and canoes, and windsurfing equipment. Virgin America charges $50 for bicycles, surf boards, windsurfing equipment and antlers/horns.
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