When you’re searching for a deal on air travel, hotels, or anything else related to an upcoming trip, how do you conduct your search? Do you have fifteen browser tabs open while you hop from site to site? Or, do you use a travel booking engine like Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, Kayak, or Orbitz? Whatever your method of operations is, we’re about to offer you a way to simplify.
Start out on your booking engine of choice. Maybe that’s one of the sites we just mentioned, or another favorite — tell us about it in the comments. Once you find the best rate on flights to your destination, go directly to the airline’s website and check their prices. Chances are, you’ll find the exact same pricing, but with better service. And you’ll be satisfied in knowing you got the best deal available for the situation.
Also, if you’re shopping for a package of hotel plus airfare plus something else, be careful. Packaged rates can appear low on the travel booking sites because they bundle multiple items together, and often they do offer savings. But are these deals truly the best?
Generally it’s hard to say for sure. To confirm any package you’re considering, use DealBase.com which will break down the packaged price you’re seeing and tell you not only what you’re really paying for, but what you should be paying.
While the third-party booking engines originally promised lower prices than the airlines and hotels, we’re starting to see lower prices coming directly from the original sites. So before you buy a trip on your favorite booking engine, give the airline and hotel sites a look and see if you can find a better deal.
Travelers today typically have a lot of options when planning their trips. Travel websites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Trip Advisor (just to name a few) help customers find the best rates on airfare and hotels, not to mention the best restaurants and tourist attractions. So, when customers have options on where to catch their connecting flights, where do most travelers prefer to spend their time?
According to a recent report released by Travel Leaders Group, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta ranks as the top preferred airport if travelers have a connecting flight, and Chicago O’Hare ranked as the least preferred airport to connect through.
What about if you’re on a family vacation? Orlando and Minneapolis/St. Paul are the top two preferred airports for travelers with kids. So if your family trip requires a long layover, consider routing your connecting flight through one of those locations.
Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul both topped the dining and amenities lists. So if you’re the type of traveler who enjoys an upscale restaurant experience or a quick massage at the airport spa, a long layover in Atlanta or Minneapolis could be the perfect way for you to get the most out of your travel experience.
Let’s say you’re about to take a week-long vacation. You want a direct flight, which is available but only for an extra fee. You’ll need to check a bag, so there’s another airline fee. And if you want a window seat, you guessed it, another fee. According to a study done by TravelNerd, a San Francisco tech company that is developing an online airline fee comparison tool, airline fees changed drastically in 2012. The study found over 50 changes in fees related to everything from baggage, to blankets, to unaccompanied minors and more.
A positive note of the study is that most of the fees only increased incrementally, about $5-10. But the moral of the story is that airline fees are unavoidable. And unfortunately, they’re likely only going to get worse. The Huffington Post found that in the first half of 2012, airlines collected more than $1.2 billion in baggage fees alone. The reason behind escalating fees is that without them, many airlines would struggle to remain profitable. So, they’re not going to go away.According to a Reuters article, airlines may start offering pre-bundled packages that make airline fees easier to swallow. These bundled plans could offer combinations of services slightly discounted from the a la carte purchase price.
The idea here is that airlines would sell more additional services if they are pre-bundled in attractive combinations than they would if travelers had to choose from a laundry list of add-ons. But at this point, the only way to avoid airline fees is to accept whatever seat you’re assigned and to travel with only a carry-on bag. Otherwise, you have to bite the bullet and take whatever fees are tacked on to your ticket price.
- Extra Airline Fees are the New Normal (travelproluggageblog.com)
- Passenger complaints surge as U.S. airlines stuff ever more people into fewer planes (vancouversun.com)
- Southwest Airlines Introduces $40 Fee to Let You Board Early (travelproluggageblog.com)
There has been plenty of buzz this year about how airlines and airports are modernizing their service to customers by offering free wifi, customer service via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and upscale shopping experiences. Now, United Airlines is partnering with BagsVIP to offer a luggage delivery service for domestic flights.
For a starting price of $30 per bag, United/BagsVIP will deliver your bags to a hotel, business, or residential address, seven days a week, including holidays. If your arrival destination is within 40 miles from the airport, the service says you will receive your bags within 4 hours of your flight arrival.The service is fairly easy to use: after making your flight reservations, just make a separate reservation for your baggage delivery. At the airport, check your bags as you usually would, but don’t forget that you still have to pay for any associated fees. When your bags arrive at their final destination, BagsVIP will be alerted and within four hours, your bags will be delivered to you. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to sign for them once they get there.
Even though many of us don’t mind waiting around for a bag or two after a flight, United’s luggage delivery service could certainly come in handy for many of us. A business traveler on a tight schedule, a family with a lot of bags and kids to corral, or an elderly person traveling alone could all easily find value from this luggage delivery service.
- Travel smartly with United airlines (articlecoin.wordpress.com)
The announcement that an airline is introducing a new fare structure is typically met with a resounding groan among consumers. American Airlines recently announced that they are introducing an optional new fare structure which will result in an extra $68 – $88 per trip for economy class tickets, and — believe it or not — travel experts are actually applauding these new fares!
So why is this fare increase getting so much praise.
And why is it optional?
According to an Associated Press story, it’s American Airlines’ way of offering increased pricing transparency to their customers. Airline fees have become a hot topic lately, and like every other major airline, American Airlines has received their fair share of complaints — especially regarding baggage fees and the standard $150 fee they charge for reservation changes.
Rick Elieson, American Airlines’ managing director of digital marketing, said the new fare structure “will eliminate the fear about what-ifs.”
Here’s how each tier of American Airline’s new fare structure is broken down, and what customers can expect to receive at each level.
- Choice Level: This is the normal ticket structure current AA passengers are accustomed to. Fares will remain the same, as will the fees for checked bags and reservation changes.
- Choice Essential: At an extra $68 per round trip, this level includes a complimentary checked bag, the ability for travelers to change their itinerary with no added fees and early boarding.
- Choice Plus: At $88 per trip, this level includes everything that Choice Essential does (complimentary checked bag, free reservation changes and early boarding) in addition to bonus miles for frequent fliers, standby privileges, free in-flight drink, and more.
With checked bags costing customers $50 per round trip for one bag, travelers that opt into one of the upgraded price levels will be paying $18 – $38 more per trip — however, the added cost may be well worth it for those that may need to change their reservation — or simply for those that enjoy a few extra perks.
- US Air/American Airlines merger may result in more travel fees (voicerussia.com)
- US Airways-American Merger: Where Some Safety and Consumer Advocates May Differ (forbes.com)
- American Airlines says it will add nine destinations from LAX in 2013 (aviationblog.dallasnews.com)
Say farewell to the “Staycation” – for many travelers, budget-friendly tours of one’s own city have become a thing of the past. Not only has travel increased overall, but consumers are actually investing in luxury travel again, thanks to income levels returning to pre-recession levels.
Just how much is luxury travel increasing? According to an article in The (London) Guardian), the sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than the demand for physical goods. This change can be partially attributed to demographics – namely, the fact that the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. Instead of acquiring material goods, affluent Baby Boomers are more interested in investing in life experiences.Demographics aside, many travel experts have noticed an overall increase in consumer confidence, meaning that travelers feel comfortable investing in high ticket, once-in-a-lifetime trips. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, a luxury travel operator in Connecticut, said “In the post-meltdown era, there’s been a resetting of priorities.”
In other words, consumers, particularly the affluent, are focusing more than ever before on making memories and spending time with friends and family.
According to the Travel Weekly article, this year’s luxury travel hotspots are all over the map, including exotic eastern locales such as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Once overlooked Eastern European hidden gems such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also becoming quite popular, as are exotic once-in-a-lifetime experiential trips such as safari trips to Botswana.
Another surprising trend is a large increase in consumers booking trips on luxury cruise lines. When it comes to visiting exotic locales via the high seas, travelers are willing to overlook the cruise industry’s recent woes. In fact, many travelers are booking cruises that run upwards of one month. Such cruises visit multiple exotic destinations on all seven continents, making them an appealing option for those that want to get a bit of variety during their trip.
- Affluent Travelers on Deck to Spend More Vacationing in 2013, According to a New Survey of High-End Travelers by Unity Marketing (prweb.com)
- Luxe Travel Trail Blazes with the Rise of the Virtual Agency (prweb.com)
- A Patagonia Spectacular With Tauck (timespentatsea.blogspot.com)
- Luxury Cruise Vacations on The Crystal Symphony Cruise (expertscolumn.com)
The words “delay” and “layover” are apt to cause even the most seasoned air traveler to feel just a bit stressed out. Thankfully, airports are starting to recognize that they’re in the business of customer service and that nowadays, savvy travelers are apt to select layover airports based on amenities and comfort.
If you happen to find yourself stuck in an airport on a layover or flight delay, don’t spend your time stressing – instead, why not enjoy yourself? Here are eight of our favorite ways to not just survive, but actually enjoy a layover.
1. Do some shopping
Whether you’re interested in picking up gifts, shopping duty free or checking out designer wares, many airports are now increasing their retail options, making them an excellent place to get some shopping done! Even better? Denver, Los Angeles and Vancouver airports are all planning outlet malls next to their airport terminals.
2. Airline lounges
Think you can’t gain access to an airline lounge simply because you’re flying coach? Think again! Many lounges now allow travelers to pay per visit, making them a great place to kick back and relax.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but many airports are actually great places to squeeze in some relaxation. Listen to music, read a book, or take advantage of the free WIFI many airports now offer and watch a movie online.
4. Pamper yourself
Having a hard time relaxing on your own? Pamper yourself! Many airports now offer barber shops, salons, spas and massage kiosks.
5. Catch up with friends and family
In this fast-paced world we live in, it can be hard to find the time to catch up with friends and family. Why not take advantage of the down time and do some catching up? If your cell phone battery is low, fear not – most airports are now offer charging stations.
6. Meet other travelers
Airports, bars and restaurants can be a great place to meet people of all walks of life! Who knows – you may end up meeting a future client or love interest!
7. Squeeze in a doctor’s visit
Yes, it’s true! Many airports now offer clinics that conduct routine physicals and inoculations. If you haven’t been to the doctor lately, there’s no time like the present.
8. Go sightseeing
If you’re stuck on a long delay, venture out of the airport and do some sightseeing! Most, if not all airports have kiosks that provide tourism information. If you do venture out, just be sure you’re back in time to get through security.
Photo credit: PeterGarnhum (Flickr, Creative Commons)
A decade ago, the average traveler wouldn’t even dream of having access to wifi as a standard in-flight amenity. And let’s be honest — the first time we were able to log onto the internet from 30,000 feet above the earth was pretty exciting! However, now that the novelty of being able to update your Facebook page from the sky has tapered off, are the majority of travelers willing to pay a bit extra for this feature?
According to a December article on Mashable.com, the answer is no. In fact, according to a Qualtrics survey, only about 25% of the 1,100 consumers surveyed stated that in-flight amenities such as snacks, beverages, in-flight entertainment – and yes, wifi — are important to their overall travel experience. So what is important to travelers? The answer isn’t too surprising.
Low ticket prices.
According to the article, Qualtrics CMO Dani Wanderer, said, “If airlines are really listening to their customers, cost is what matters most. Airlines can spare the bells and whistles of other perks, and bring the savings right to their customers.”
In fact, the same Qualtrics study found that for roughly 55% of consumers, lower fares aren’t just important — they are actually the single most important factor they consider when booking air travel. Taking into account the wide array of fees that many airlines are now charging, consumers are becoming even more price conscious than ever before.
So much so, that more and more consumers are using websites that aggregate flights from major airlines in order to shop the best deal, consumers are less likely to buy based on brand name and more likely to simply go with the best price.
While there is still a core group of travelers that enjoy added in-flight amenities — particularly on long flights — it appears that the majority of consumers value budget over added perks like wifi. We’d love to hear from you – are you willing to pay a bit extra per ticket for in-flight wifi, or is overall ticket price the most important factor?
- Four Major Trends In Air Travel by 2015 (travelproluggageblog.com)
- Personal In-Flight Entertainment via Mobile Devices (travelproluggageblog.com)
- 5 Must Have International Air Travel Accessories (epicatravel.com)
- AT&T and Boingo to Offer Free WiFi at International Airports (tomshardware.com)
If you’ve noticed yourself paying extra fees when booking a flight, you’re not alone. Nowadays, travelers can expect to pay extra for everything from luggage and seat choice to in-flight snacks and – yes – even your carry on bag. According to a Chron.com article, a recent study found a total of 52 fee changes in 2012 alone — most of which were related to baggage. For example, many airports lowered the weight limit and size of both carry-on and checked bags in order to bring in extra revenue.
So why the sudden increase in fees? According to Alicia Jao of TravelNerd, government data shows that the revenue airlines brought in from baggage fees actually plateaued from 2010 through 2012, leaving airlines in a financial lurch and struggling to compensate for that lost revenue. These new fees have definitely given airlines the revenue boost they so desperately needed — in fact, overall revenue went up 11% between 2011 and 2012.
Many travelers ask if there is any way to avoid these new fees. The truth is, the actual airline ticket prices will always be low, so if you’re looking to save money, your best bet is to travel light and go with the bare minimum of amenities.
If you’ll only be out of town for a few days, consider packing all of your clothing into a carry-on bag. Thankfully, most major airlines have decided to not charge for carry-on luggage, so be sure to do your research and book with an airline that still offers complimentary carry-ons.
Another way to save a few dollars is to stick with your default seat assignment, as seat changes or upgrades can cost upwards of $25 each way. Finally, if you typically purchase in-flight snacks, you may want to consider packing your own – this simple move can save $10 or more per person.
Airline fees are not going to go away. They’re how the airlines are making money these days. When you’re budgeting and booking travel, don’t just go by the ticket price alone. Always assume there are fees involved, and then look for ways to avoid getting dinged.