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Alaska Airlines to Issue iPads to Pilots

June 1, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Pilots | 0 comments

Alaska Airlines Pilots iPads

Can a cockpit get any more high-tech? Apparently so.

Beginning later this month, Alaska Airlines will issue iPads to all its pilots.

There are a number of reasons for this, and one of them has to do with weight of the “print edition” flight manuals that most pilots currently use, and have to lug around; we are told the cumulative weight of these manuals is about 25 pounds or so. In contrast, an iPad weighs a mere 1.33 pounds.

We’ve also heard that using iPads will result in “fewer back and muscle injuries” to pilots because of the new light-weight electronic manuals, and I hope to learn more about this from Alaska (we’ve posed this and other queries to them and will update you when we hear back).

More questions:

Q: Will they have to turn the iPad off during takeoffs and landing?

A. Yes, that’s what we hear

Q: What will the pilots do then?

A: Good question, and one that I asked Alaska. We’ll let you know what they say.

Q: Why an iPad and not some other tablet?

A: Because Apple needs the money? Probably not; let’s see what Alaska has to say.

Q: Will pilots be allowed to play Angry Birds in flight?

A: Uh…extremely doubtful, but again, we are seeking clarification on this.

Here’s a final clarification: If you want to learn when airfare prices go down for flights to that city you want to visit, sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts, and we’ll let you know in real-time.

Rick Seaney on Today Show: How to Save on Summer Airfare

Rick Seaney Today Show Summer Airfare Prices

Did you happen to catch me on the Today Show?

If not, take a look at the video below. The report focuses on Memorial Day travel, but check it out because it also tells you a lot about what to expect for summer airline ticket prices. Yours truly notes note that summer airfare has already risen from $30 to $60 on average from the summer of 2010.

What you can do to save on summer travel: Find out the best day to shop for airfare and the cheapest days to fly, and also sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts, and we’ll let you know in real-time when prices on the trip you want to take come down.

Now here’s the video; if you have a moment, please let me know what you think on Facebook.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Safe Travels this Memorial Day Weekend

May 30, 2011 | Posted in: Holiday Travel | 0 comments

Happy

 

Note to my U.S. readers: 

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

And, a note to all my readers, around the world:

I wish you safe travels – this day, and every day.

Rick Seaney, FareCompare

Fly and Drive: Save on Airfare to Yosemite, Other National Parks

Fly and Drive to Save on Airfare

The Airfare Expert: I don’t know if you saw my latest Airfare Expert column for USA Today on saving money with “fly & drive” combination trips; if not, here’s the condensed version.

I focus on Yosemite, but I think it could prove useful for travels to a lot of America’s national parks some of which can be a bit hard to get to (certainly by nonstop air service). Of course, the very isolation of some of these parks is a big part of why we want to get to them!

So here goes – and if you have any ideas or comments, let’s chat on Facebook.

Is it possible to fly & drive to Yosemite and save money?

Yes, and in this case, the more you’re willing to drive, the more you may be able to save. Here are some options:

Fly into Fresno: This is the nearest airport to Yosemite served by multiple airlines (though dominated by United); luckily, the Fresno facility is just about 90 miles away from the park, and out West, that’s no big deal. Bonus for travlers: easy in-and-out of the airport (and security) thanks to few crowds, plus no long haul to pick up the rental car.

Fly into San Francisco or Fly into Oakland: These bigger airports are dominated by United (SFO) and Southwest (OAK), and while flying to San Francisco or Oakland will increase the driving distance of your Yosemite (total drive time, maybe 3-4 hours or so), it could be more cost effective if you’re traveling as a group.

Tell me the best tips for cheap flights no matter where I fly.

Just follow these two favorite maxims of mine:

  1. Shop on Tuesday at 3pm Eastern; this is cheapest day (and time of day) to shop for airfare.
  2. Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday; most often, the cheapest days to fly. Avoid Fridays and Sundays unless there’s a special fare – usually those are the most expensive days to fly.  

Any tips for the “drive” part of the trip?

Remember that parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are in the high country, and snow in June and August are not unheard of. Check with the National Park Service for road closure information.

Bad Weather, Flight Delays or Cancelations and You

Bad Weather Flight Delays and Cancelations

So far, this has been a nasty year for weather: Lots of snow (remember the white stuff disrupting the Dallas Super Bowl festivities?) and lots of stormy weather.

Recently, FareCompare Editor Anne McDermott got caught up in some fairly run-of-the-mill storms at DFW that nonetheless disrupted her flight plans, but I’ll let her tell you about it – and how she coped:

“All I can say is, thank goodness I read Rick’s tips in Bad Weather Flight Delays and Canceled Flights: What to do Next because it really helped. I followed his suggestion to ‘multi-task’ by immediately getting on the phone as I also got in the long line at the American Airlines counter; the phone agent got me another flight so when I finally got to speak to the counter agent, I was all set. At least for the moment.”

“Unfortunately, the storms continued, and my back-up flight was canceled. The gate agent then got me on standby for another flight and I made sure I went to my newly assigned gate immediately because I knew that if I wasn’t present (or not close enough to hear them call my name for the flight), I’d be out of luck. As it turned out, there were plenty of people on the standby list who weren’t there when their names were called, but because I was, I was able to leap-frog over them and get a seat on the plane.”

“More great advice from Rick: I used a carryon bag – so I never worried about a checked-bag going astray in all the confusion.”

“By the way, I just want to add that every step of the way during this long day, the American Airline reps were just terrific – patient, calm and helpful; best of all, they constantly provided us delayed passengers with meaningful updates.”

This is Rick again, and I just want to remind all travelers out there that summer weather can be much worse than winter for flight delays and disruptions. If you’re always prepared, you’ll have a much easier time of it. And, as always, safe travels.

Rick Seaney Talks Summer Travel Deals with NBC5DFW

May 18, 2011 | Posted in: Multimedia | 0 comments


View more videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com.

Gas Pump Prices and the Cost of Your Airline Ticket

Gas Pump Prices and Cost of Airfare

If you haven’t seen my latest “Airfare Expert” column in USA Today, I’ll give you the brief version now (but do take a look at the column if possible, for the unique graphics).

Why does airfare cost so much these days?

Airfare costs are route specific and fluctuate according to numerous factors like competition or lack of same (think of mergers, like the recent Southwest/AirTran deal), and the rising cost of oil.

Jet fuel remains the top expense for airlines today; it’s risen from about 20% of a carrier’s expenses to close to 40%.

However, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn of plans for several start-up airlines which are in abeyance until the price of jet fuel drops, possibly until oil comes down the about $70 per barrel (which sure would be nice).

What does airline seating capacity have to do with higher prices?

In recent years, airlines cut capacity dramatically, which is why it’s so rare to find an empty seat next to you. And of course, fewer empty seats helps keep prices up – supply and demand.

How frequently do airlines raise their airfare?

So far this year there have been 12 attempts at raising airfare prices, and seven of those attempts were successful. You can be sure they’ll try again. And again.

Sounds like pretty soon, only the wealthy will be able to afford to fly, right?

Not a chance; the airlines have to keep their planes full to make any money (or to avoid losing money), and when they can’t fill their planes, the discounts will come. In the meantime, smart shopper must sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts - to be among the first to know when deals are available.

Traveling to Europe in 2011 – Finding Cheap Flights

USA Today Column Travel to Europe Cheap Flights

Hope you had a chance to see my latest airfare column at USAToday.com. My topic: how to find cheap flights to Europe.

Let me give you the condensed version here:

Will prices to Europe be higher this summer?

Yes. In the summer of 2009, you could find flights to Ireland for well under $500 roundtrip total; this summer, that’s your starting point – and by that I mean you’ll pay about $500 just in taxes, fees and surcharges – before you add in the actual airfare.

Will a nonstop flight cost more?

In most case, expect to pay a premium of from $150 to $350 for a nonstop; avoid those if you want to save.

Does it matter what day of the week I travel to Europe?

It does. Most of the airlines to Europe file two different price points: one for travel on the so-called “midweek days” which are Monday through Wednesday, and another for travel on what the “weekend days” (Thursday through Sunday). If avoid travel on “weekends”, you’ll save about 40 bucks each way.

What about a Saturday night “stay-over”?

Many of the cheapest European fares do require a Saturday night stay; if you don’t follow this rule, you could wind up paying hundreds of dollars more.

What can you tell me about Europe’s seasons?

I can tell you that the best time to fly to Europe depends on the season; some are cheaper than others:

  • Cheapest: Winter 

Begins mid to late November — Ends mid to late March

  • Less Cheap: Fall 

Begins mid to late August — Ends mid to late November

  • More Expensive: Spring 

Begins mid to late March Ends late May/first week of June

  • Most Expensive: Summer 

Please see my complete column for more money-saving tips on Europe travel.

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