You’ve worked hard to earn your frequent flier miles, logging all those flights and using your airline credit card whenever you can. And you probably think your miles and points are safe and secure, just waiting for you to redeem them.
Except your miles might be the target of hackers who have figured out how to crack your account, and are plundering it, selling those points for cash or tickets. Now that most airlines no longer send out monthly statements that keep travelers updated on their balances, hackers have begun taking advantage of the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality to do their worst.
But you can protect yourself from these hackers if you just take a few security steps.
First, you need to protect your airline account. Fortunately, most airlines quit using the 4-digit PIN code they had used for years, and replaced it with full password protection. But that doesn’t help you if you’re still using your dog’s name as the password. Pick a complex password that’s hard to remember or even figure out, the more complex, the better.
Rather than try to remember the password or write it down, use a password management app like 1Password or LastPass to keep track of it. Better yet, let the app generate a complex password. You can choose a random scattering of letters, numbers, and special characters, or a string of unrelated words, and store them in the app. Security experts estimate that passwords like this can take centuries to break.
Recently, the country’s three major airlines each implemented a little change to their pricing models that, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot more per flight.
The change, says The New York Times, could make it up to seven times more expensive for those who fly what’s called an “open jaw” route.
That’s where you fly to a particular destination, but return home from a different one. For example, if you flew to Miami, but flew home from Orlando, that’s an “open jaw,” or multi-city flight.
We don’t want you to be caught unaware, so here are some things we suggest you do before you purchase a multi-city or open jaw ticket.
- Check into the cost of two one-way tickets. There’s a very good chance the two tickets will cost less than the one open-jaw flight. The example we saw in the Times story showed a $1200 price tag for a Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles/San Francisco to Jacksonville. But as two separate tickets, it was $400. Read more
Business travelers often consider the cost of airfare when determining the ROI of their business trips (and if you don’t, you should, especially for entrepreneurs and executives whose travel costs come out of their regular budgets). You can find less expensive flights with just a little planning, but without giving up the comfort and convenience of your usual travel schedule.
Yahoo Travel shared several great ways for saving money on flights, and they apply to business fliers as much as vacation travelers.
Let’s start with the basics: it’s true what the experts say. The cheapest flights will be found when you book eight weeks out for domestic travel and 24 weeks out for international. However, if you’re impulsive and can leave at the drop of a hat, you can also snatch a cheap flight last-minute if you can be somewhat flexible in your schedule.
If you want to be more scientific in your search for a deal, we suggest downloading a fare alert app that lets you know when the cheapest flight becomes available for the destination of your choice. Another way to get the big picture on flight prices is to investigate the “search by month” option on sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights. This will take the guesswork out of your purchase.
The old adage, “If something’s too good to be true, it probably is,” serves as a general warning to most people. So does “Buyer beware.” Basically, we’re urged to thoroughly investigate a deal that seems impossibly beneficial to our wallets.
In the ongoing saga to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, something Congress must do every few years, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved an attachment to the reauthorization bill that would deregulate a policy the airlines have long opposed and despised. The attachment would essentially give airlines the freedom to not advertise the taxes and fees associated with certain airfares — something they only recently started doing a few years ago.
This would allow them to return to their practice of promoting as “low cost” or “free” tickets that are anything but.
The process of purchasing an airline ticket has become something out of an episode from Survivor — can you outwit, outlast, outplay the airlines and get the price you want? It seems someone is finally seeking to form an alliance.
Expedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation joined forces to conduct an immensely comprehensive data study, analyzing 10 billion flights, to provide you with a detailed strategy for getting the best price on an airline ticket without having to sell your soul at a tribal council.
First, let me tell you when it’s time for you to go: you can actually get the best fare by traveling on the weekend. Business flights are much more expensive than those catering to leisure travelers, so flights that take you to or from your destination over a weekend will be more affordable than those departing during the week. That should help you know when it’s time for you to go.
Here’s the skinny: airlines change their prices multiple times a day. George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog suggests checking, at a minimum, four times a day, every day of the week, as far in advance as you can. Sheesh. Yes, it may take a little work to find the best deal.
In a world of cheap fares and automated ticketing systems, there are still times that airlines are prone to “fat finger mistakes.” According to a recent USA Today article, that’s when an employee has accidentally offered a fare at a discounted price because they mis-entered the correct fares or misplaced a decimal.
According to the story, one customer was able to jump on fare from NYC to Abu Dhabi for $227 due to a clerical error. The ticket usually costs about $1,500, but the airline was forced to honor the fare due to regulations. However, those regulations may be changing in the near future.
The rule was actually created to protect consumers from dishonorable price hikes after they had already purchased tickets. But at this point, the U.S. Department of Transportation believes the rule is being used to scam airlines more than anything else. There have been numerous instances recently of customers finding mistakes and immediately spreading the news on social media so a multitude of other travelers can also take advantage of it.
The hope is that there will still be protection in place for consumers while also beginning to protect businesses that make clerical errors. While there’s something to be said for honoring prices even when they’re the result of a mistake, some of those errors can generate huge losses for a business.
People do make mistakes after all, and we expect others to forgive our human error. Some people may think the airlines are so big, and so unconcerned about passengers’ comfort, that they deserve to get hit where it hurts, but there’s a question of fairness to consider.
For starters, what if the airline did come back and retroactively charge you for a fuel increase because gas prices went up a week before your trip? That wouldn’t be fair or acceptable.
We think it’s fair if airlines may want to give customers a little something when such an error arises, such as a few frequent flyer miles or some kind of upgrade. But if an airline mistakenly gives a heavy discount on a fare, they shouldn’t be forced to honor it when doing so will harm their own interests.
How do you feel about it? Share your opinion in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.
The ticket you bought for your next flight could cost twice as much, or half as much, as the person sitting next to you. It’s a rule of flying that buying a ticket at the last minute means you’ll pay more than someone who bought when prices were at their lowest. If you have to book a ticket because of a family emergency or a last minute trip, you reluctantly pay a premium.
But did you know that ticket prices on an hour long economy flight can vary by as much as $1,400? This rather startling price difference was revealed by Hopper, a travel research website. A recent report they put out states that ticket prices for economy seats between LAX and Vegas — a 60 minute flight — ranged from $200 to $1,600.
So how do you avoid being the person who paid the most for their seat?
Part of it is a matter of luck: prices for the same flight vary day to day and even hour to hour. Your best bet on scoring at the lower end of the scale is to buy ahead of time, of course.
You can also check out Hopper’s website, which gives you a good idea of the range of prices for a particular destination and what the best deal is likely to be. If you see something within your acceptable range, be sure to snap it up right away. That price may be gone in 60 minutes.
If you enter the airports you’re flying between, you’ll also get a detailed breakdown of varying flight costs, the best time to buy tickets, and the most popular days to travel to a particular destination. They also provide info on what carriers make the trip, with a percentile breakdown. Plus there’s a list of alternate airports you can travel through to get close to the same spot.
If you want to avoid getting stung by high ticket prices, plan ahead, and use the tools to do some comparison shopping. Whether it’s Hopper or any of the other travel sites online, it’s a matter of good planning and plain luck.
Photo credit: Luke Lai (Flickr, Creative Commons)
These days, air travel seems pricier than ever (and that the amenities less amenable than ever). Would you believe, though, that when you adjust for inflation, airfares have actually fallen by about 50 percent in the past 30 years? It’s true, according to a chart-filled article in The Atlantic.
That’s no consolation to the average passenger, though. Paying hundreds of dollars just to get from Point A to Point B — often with nary a free bag of peanuts to soothe them — leaves many travelers with a bad taste in their mouths.
But perhaps even more frustrating than the high price of air travel is the constant change in exactly how high they’ll be. That’s because there are many factors, some not even remotely related to the airlines themselves, that determine what your airfare will be. And some of those factors change by the day.
Here’s a look at three of those factors, drawn from a Fox News article on the “9 Surprising Factors That Influence The Price Of Your Airline Ticket.”
- The Price Of Oil: Gas prices ruin everything, from the cost of your daily trip to the office to the price tag on your plane ticket. Fuel has been airlines’ No. 1 operating expense since 2011, and so airlines keep adding fuel surcharges to the price.
- The Timing Of Your Flight: Convenience is costly. So is flying when everyone else wants to fly. That’s why it can be extra pricey to fly on major holidays, spring break and even dates like the Super Bowl. The least-expensive days to fly: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Saturdays.
- The Government: Yes, there really is a Sept. 11 Security Fee. It’s rising to $11.20 per round-trip flight later this year, and that’s on top of the taxes and other fees airlines tack on to the price of your ticket to pay the government.
- Strike A Bargain: Looking for your best bet on ticket prices? Several websites, including Fare Detective, Kayak and even the search engine Bing now offer historical fare comparisons that will let you know when it’s “safe” to buy.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten on a plane ticket? What’s the most you’ve ever paid? Share your booking tales with us in the comments section.
On the horizon for the airline industry: customizable fares.
A little further out on the horizon: angry passengers.
The airline industry is developing technology that will allow them to create a customized airplane fare for you — and only you — using personal information such as gender, marital status, and how often you fly. This information will enter an algorithm that will decide the fare amount you are required to pay. Amazon.com already uses a similar tool which suggests items for you to purchase based on your browsing and previous purchase history.
Advocates of this method argue that this change will give the travelers more control. In theory, travelers will be able to visit the website of a travel agency, set the desired travel locations and select the airline with the most affordable price. Travelers would also be able to check for other options, such as wireless Internet, and view any extra fees that may be attached to any trip.
The idea of a fare customization has been greeted with skepticism. Opponents of the proposed change argue this is nothing more than a marketing ploy. They worry that by giving away so much personal information, the airline industry could easily check on your credit history and income information. Instead of giving you the cheapest fare based on what you need, they could use that information to determine how much you could afford to pay. Individuals with more disposable income could be charged much more for a flight than the person seated next to them. And without knowing the formula used to set the price, there’s no true way to know who is getting charged fairly and who is being overcharged.
There is no need for immediate concern; the technology for customizable airfares is still in the development phases, years away from actually being implemented. However, the idea still raises a few eyebrows from those who are concerned with how their personal information is being used by major corporations. In the end, it is not the technology that we can call “good” or “evil,” but the intent behind the way it is used.
With the cost of travel continually rising, everyone is looking to save a few bucks when booking airline tickets. However, when it comes to finding the lowest airfare, everyone seems to have their own, often differing, advice to share when it comes to when and how you should purchase a flight.
When it comes to saving money on air travel, many people insist that when you book your ticket has the biggest impact on ticket price. In fact, a quick Internet search will leave you inundated with a wide variety of tips on how far in advance you should book your ticket, the best day of the week and time of day to purchase, and the cheapest day to travel on. But is there any truth to these recommendations, or are these “expert tactics” simply myths?When it comes to selecting which time to fly, many people suggest travelling mid-week and during off hours — particularly on one of those dreaded red eye flights. If you’re hoping to use this tactic to save a bit of money on airfare, you’re in luck – avoiding popular travel times (such as Friday afternoon) can help you save a few dollars on the cost of travel.
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to score a great deal on airfare by purchasing your tickets on a specific day of the week or at a certain time, you may not be so lucky. Up until a few years ago, it was possible to save money on travel by using this tactic, however, times have changed. While it may work on occasion, purchasing airfare at a certain time isn’t a guaranteed way to score a lower fare.
If you’re looking to score the best deal possible on an upcoming trip, your best bet is to do some research on average airfare prices for the route you’re flying, begin monitoring prices a few months in advance, and snap up your tickets when you find a good deal. Remember, prices can jump very fast, so it pays to simply strike while the iron’s hot!
- Proliferation of Websites has led to Easy Booking of Airline Tickets (besttraveldeals4u.wordpress.com)
- Understanding the Hidden Taxes and Fees Associated with Airline Travel (turbotax.intuit.com)
- 5 Ways to Get Great Deals on Holiday Travel (epicatravel.com)
- Killer Tips For Finding Cheap Airline Tickets (buddyjacksonsepicinfo.wordpress.com)