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Entries during 2007-08

We Pledge Allegiant, to the Fares...

Q. Why do you no longer list Allegiant Air fares from St Pete-Clearwater airport and Sanford, FL airport?

A. We do list them, but not until after we've checked their fares each day first. So it may depend on what time of day you visit our site.

Allegiant raises and lowers their fares with no set pattern (they usually don't advertise their fare reductions) so we have to check manually (that's using real live human beings) each route, one by one; so if you check at 8 AM we may have no fares listed; but come back at noon, and voila, there they are. Also, if Allegiant jacks up the fare on a particular route, we won't list it until they have their next reduction. Allegiant often has sneak sales on weekends, so be sure to check our site on Saturday and Sunday too.

Fare is a Four Letter Word

Q. Okay, I am pretty sick of this. I have gotten your alerts for months. Each and every time I try to retrieve the ACTUAL airfare you SAY exists, it DOES NOT. I am ready to sh--can your entire service. I see you as NOTHING more than "bait and switch" -- I dare you tell me otherwise. The fares you ADVERTISE do NOT exist. They aren't even close. Do you know this???!!! Do you even care? Why would you do business in such an unethical way? Do you think it's funny? And to boot you ask for a handout -- for customers to buy from Amazon through YOU... so you can get a kick back? I know you will NOT respond to this -- unless it's some LAME "boilerplate" response because you can't PROVE you actually have those airfares. In other words, you are a fake. I don't believe it for a minute. UNLESS your site is to be used by super sleuths and you and the Air services you contract with are determined to BURY the airfare where consumers can't find it - then you are a SHAM of a company. Tell me I am not the first person to say that. Bet if I conducted my own survey -- I'd get the same results... i.e. you are a bait and swtich bull---- company. DARE YOU TO RESPOND WITH HONESTY, ACCURACY, and PERSONALLY.

A. Sorry you're having problems finding the fares we list. We assure you they do exist, as do the hard-working individuals here at Airfarewatchdog who devote their time to finding them and may find your note to be a wee bit...oh, I don't know... insulting?

For starters, make sure you've read our user's guide here, especially the part about flexible searches. The fares we list are not always available on every conceivable travel date.

If, after reading the user's guide, you can't find seats at a listed fare, please contact us directly (and in a timely manner), specifying the route and dates you'd like to travel, and we'll do our best to find at least a few dates that the fare is available. Remember, we're always happy to help.

Oh, and by the way, you are actually the first person to call us a sham company. We get dozens of sincere thank-yous from happy users of our free service. In fact, most of the staff here is comprised of happy users who liked AFWD so much, they joined the team.

Also, another thing to consider is that we only earn revenue if someone books a fare via our site, so we'd hardly still be in business if people couldn't find seats at our listed prices, now would we?!

Oh, and speaking of Amazon purchases, you may want to consider picking this up. Just a thought.

Fare is a Four Letter Word

Q. Okay, I am pretty sick of this. I have gotten your alerts for months. Each and every time I try to retrieve the ACTUAL airfare you SAY exists, it DOES NOT. I am ready to sh--can your entire service. I see you as NOTHING more than "bait and switch" -- I dare you tell me otherwise. The fares you ADVERTISE do NOT exist. They aren't even close. Do you know this???!!! Do you even care? Why would you do business in such an unethical way? Do you think it's funny? And to boot you ask for a handout -- for customers to buy from Amazon through YOU... so you can get a kick back? I know you will NOT respond to this -- unless it's some LAME "boilerplate" response because you can't PROVE you actually have those airfares. In other words, you are a fake. I don't believe it for a minute. UNLESS your site is to be used by super sleuths and you and the Air services you contract with are determined to BURY the airfare where consumers can't find it - then you are a SHAM of a company. Tell me I am not the first person to say that. Bet if I conducted my own survey -- I'd get the same results... i.e. you are a bait and swtich bull---- company. DARE YOU TO RESPOND WITH HONESTY, ACCURACY, and PERSONALLY.

A. Sorry you're having problems finding the fares we list. We assure you they do exist, as do the hard-working individuals here at Airfarewatchdog who devote their time to finding them and may find your note to be a wee bit...oh, I don't know... insulting?

For starters, make sure you've read our user's guide here, especially the part about flexible searches. The fares we list are not always available on every conceivable travel date.

If, after reading the user's guide, you can't find seats at a listed fare, please contact us directly (and in a timely manner), specifying the route and dates you'd like to travel, and we'll do our best to find at least a few dates that the fare is available. Remember, we're always happy to help.

Oh, and by the way, you are actually the first person to call us a sham company. We get dozens of sincere thank-yous from happy users of our free service. In fact, most of the staff here is comprised of happy users who liked AFWD so much, they joined the team.

Also, another thing to consider is that we only earn revenue if someone books a fare via our site, so we'd hardly still be in business if people couldn't find seats at our listed prices, now would we?!

Oh, and speaking of Amazon purchases, you may want to consider picking this up. Just a thought.


Tuggable and Luggable

Q: I have been thinking about buying aluminum luggage, such as those made by Zero Halliburton. They look very appealing, but do they have any downsides?

A: I actually own a 21-inch aluminum rolling suitcase made by Germany's Rimowa, another specialist in aluminum cases. On the plus side, it provides relatively lightweight hard-sided protection. It also draws admiring stares from other travelers. On the downside, you may find household members borrowing it (this is what has happened to me, and I rarely get a chance to use it now). Also, these suitcases are incredibly expensive (the Zero 21 inch roller sells for around $600-$650, which may add to their appeal, since few people own them), and they tend to dent and scratch easily. But again, if you need a stylish way to protect your belongings when you travel, aluminum is a good choice.

No Show, No Go

Q: I always look for cheap flights to Greenville SC. Nonstop flights are available, but too expensive. There are cheap connecting flights that get me close to Greenville, such as to Charlotte or Atlanta (I can rent a car for the rest of the way). However, all the bargain flights going to Charlotte, require a plane change in Atlanta. And if you book to Atlanta, you have to fly to Charlotte and change planes there anyway. What if I just take the first leg of the flight to Charlotte (getting off in Atlanta, and driving the rest of the way to Greenville) and then take the last leg of the flight coming back (getting on in Atlanta and not showing up for the first leg from Charlotte to Atlanta?) My main concern is, if I don't show for the first leg of the flight leaving from Charlotte, does my second leg flight from Atlanta get automatically cancelled??

A: Yes. If you don't show up for any leg of your trip, any remaining legs will indeed be cancelled.

Trip Gifting

Q: My sisters and I would like to fly our parents to Australia as a 50th anniversary present. They used to travel there frequently, spending up to six months at a time (even a full year, once), but due to financial and family concerns, they have not been able to go back in ten years. We want it to be a surprise, and a "done deal" so that they can't refuse it, but we don't want to lock them into specific travel dates, or even time of year or length of stay. What's the best way to give an airfare gift like that?

A: The best way to "gift" a trip like this, without worrying about when, or if, it's used, is to buy a fully-refundable fare, but these fares can be very expensive. Another way to go is to buy a non-refundable fare and pay a change fee. Air New Zealand, for example, has very reasonable economy class fares available on its Web site, and the lowest fares come with a $150 change fee (the change fee is just $100 for their roomier premium economy fares, which are refundable minus a $300 fee). So you could book a trip with set dates and then pay the change fee later. Air New Zealand is a good choice for flying to Australia (or New Zealand of course) because they don't charge a higher fare if you stay over 30 days, as many airlines do. And their change fees are less than you'd pay on other airlines. And here's another tip: if you're flying from somewhere other than an Air New Zealand gateway, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, and want to stay over 30 days (as it appears your parents would prefer) you may be better off buying a fare from one of those gateways to Australia, and then a second fare from their home airport to those gateways, perhaps overnight in the gateway city to break up the long trip. If you try booking as one through fare, you may run into 30 day maximum stay restrictions on the entire fare, since the most restrictive fare rules will apply to the entire trip.

For Miles and Miles

Q. Over the last year, I've been traveling quite a bit on business. Is there an easier way to track all of my frequent flier miles, from different airlines?

A. You may want to try www.frequentflier.com. The site's free downloadable Mileport software (PC only) tracks account data from more than 100 loyalty programs. Enter your information once, and any time thereafter click the "update" button to refresh it in seconds.

Time is on your Side

Q. With all the delays and cancellations these days, I know it's best to buy nonstop. But still, for my upcoming trip, it's just much more economical for me to buy a flight with a stopover. Just to be extra safe before I commit to buying anything, I'd like to go over on-time records so I know for sure which connection is the easiest to make. Is that information easy to find? Don't want to be stranded anyplace should something go wrong.

A. Just phone the airline and ask for the flight's on-time performance number. Every domestic flight is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 on the basis of its on-time record. One is the worst, meaning the flight is late 90 to 100 percent of the time. To learn how many minutes a flight is delayed on average, visit www.bts.gov and enter the airline and flight number. Checking in on an overseas flight? Visit www.avoiddelays.com.

When to Buy

Q. I know what days of the week are the least expensive to travel on but what's the best time to actually purchase my tickets?

A. At 5:15 p.m. on Saturday if you're booking through an airline over the phone, or after midnight on Sunday a.m. if using a website. Airlines usually lower rates on Friday, then competing carriers try to beat those prices by reducing their own fares on Saturday at 5 p.m. (the designated time when airlines change fares on the weekend). It takes two to four hours for those new prices to filter down to the computer-reservation systems used by websites.

Curb vs. Counter

Q. Are bags checked at the curb more likely to be lost than ones taken to a counter?

A. Theoretically, both methods are equally risky. Hard statistics comparing the two have not been released, but skycaps use the same baggage coding and ramp systems as counter check-in agents. (Skycap service, though, comes with a price: it's customary to tip $2 a bag.) You can see where airlines fall in the rankings of mishandled baggage by checking online with the U.S. Department of Transportation. In 2006, Delta Airlines affiliate Atlantic Southeast was number one, logging 17.64 complaints for every 1,000 customers.

Thankfully, airlines are upgrading to more accurate radio-frequency ID tags, a move that Las Vegas's MacCarran International Airport credits for 10 percent fewer lost bags per year.

Above all, take comfort in this: 98% of lost bags are returned within five days.
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