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Entries by David Shan

When is the best time of the week to find the lowest airfares? I've heard it's on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Q: When is the best time of the week to find the lowest airfares? I've heard it's on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

A: While it's true that more seats are available at the lowest fares if you travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday (and sometimes on Saturdays), that doesn't necessarily mean you'll save money if you purchase your fare on those days. Airlines can lower their fares at any given moment, seemingly on a whim. In fact, domestic airfares can change up to three times daily, and once a day on weekends, so it's a good idea to check in the morning, around noon time, and after about 4 in the afternoon. Also, I've found that some of the most amazing unadvertised sales appear on Saturday mornings. Why? One theory is that because when one airline unleashes a "sneak" sale, since airfares are updated only once on Saturdays other airlines can't respond immediately.

Checking Luggage

Q: I hate checking my bags when I fly, but now I suppose I’ll have to since I don’t want to buy new shampoo, hair gel, contact lens solution, and other expensive toiletries each time I arrive in a different city. Do you think these new carry on restrictions are here to stay?

A: I have a feeling that the recent ban on liquids and gels in carry on luggage will be with us for a while, although we may see some modifications from time to time. There’s good and bad in this. Most likely, people will be checking more luggage, which means longer lines and waits at the check in desks before you get to security. But travelers are reporting that with fewer people bringing bags into the cabin, getting onto the plane is faster and easier, and security personnel have fewer bags to examine, so that process may go more smoothly as well. On the negative side, airlines will have to hire more personnel at check in desks and in baggage handling, and travelers who normally breeze off the plane with their rolling suitcases now must add 30-45 minutes or even longer waiting for their bags at the carousel. If you still want to carry on your luggage but don’t want to buy new liquids and gels each time you arrive in a new city, then simply use FedEx (air or ground), UPS, or the US Post Office and send these items ahead to your hotel, grandma’s house, or branch office; send whatever is left back home the same way when your trip is done. USPS priority mail shipping is especially economical, and is usually pretty fast and reliable. But if you’re old enough, you remember that in the old days of travel, back when 707’s and Lockheed Constellations ruled the sky, before laptops and Blackberries and iPods were essential tools, all you brought on board was a little cabin bag emblazoned with the airline’s logo (I collect them on eBay as a matter of fact). Inside, there’d be some chewing gum perhaps, your Instamatic and some film, a paperback, sunglasses, that sort of stuff. Perhaps that’s what we’re reverting back to. No nasty fights to grab space in the overhead bin. And maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

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