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Ask Rick

August 29, 2007 | Posted in: Ask Rick

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This post has been moved to a special section.

I get a lot of questions from readers regarding travel tips, airline policies, fare pricing, and more. I do my best to answer every question, but as most of you know, there just aren’t always enough hours in the day to get to everything.

I thought it might be a good idea for me to start a weekly segment on the blog where I choose the questions that seem to come up the most, or those that shed some light on issues that affect all of us as travelers. I’m calling it Ask Rick, and it will debut this Friday.

Please submit any questions you have about the airline industry, travel, or anything else that you think might make your life in the air a little bit easier. My hope is that over time, we’ll be able to cover a wide range of issues, and everybody will be better prepared when they’re planning their next trip.

Update

Now Posted:

30 Responses to “Ask Rick”

  1. Kim says:

    I thought I already posted this but can’t find it. I just discovered the Aloha flight I booked from Maui to Sacramento has a stop. We will be traveling with my daughter who will be 22 months at the time and I really need a non-stop. I contacted Aloha’s reservations and the would allow me to change the flight for a $125 fee plus any increase in the ticket cost. When I looked online the return flight available was actually about $5 less than what I originally paid, not the $86 increase they quoted me. Is there any way to get them to waive the $125 and get the lower priced airfare?

  2. Elliot says:

    I have a question about posted delays that get rescinded. My girlfriend was on the last ORD – CVG flight on United, and got a message that it was delayed 2 hours several hours prior, certainly before most passnegers would have arrived at the airport. Flight info. online and on the phone confirmed the delay. We decided to go for dinner with the extra time. As our meals were arriving, she got another message, saying the flight was now leaving on time. So, we quickly got the food to go, and rushed to O’hare as fast as we could. She made the flight, but it was fairly close. The question is about the airline’s responsibility had she missed it. Since the delay was posted, and seemed pretty official, would UA have been held responsable for honoring her ticket,and any extra expenses? Or are passengers supposed to be at the gate on time, even if they know there has been a significant delay posted? Even as a fairly frequent traveller, I have never encountered a situation like this

  3. Diane Riding says:

    Has anyone flown on Skybus out of Columbus Ohio? My husband and I purchased $50.00 each way tickets to fly to Columbus in October. We haven’t heard much about their customer service, flight on time schedules, etc. You can’t contact them personally, only find info on their website, so it’s a little scary to know how good they are, or what type of airline they are. Any advice from anyone that’s flown on them or knows anything about them. Thanks so much.

  4. Gary Buchanan says:

    Rick, Taking a vacation from Apr 26,08-May 10,08 wondering when is it a good time to shop for tickets. We are planning a trip to Zagreb, Croatia flying out of DTW via FRA on Lufthansa then into Zag. Our ideal flight is to fly business out to DTW into FRA, but would like to find a great price on tickets for Business class. The flight out of FRA to Zag would be coach. Any suggestion would be great.

    Thanks

    Gary

  5. Nancy says:

    Spring Break with 16yo f, 12yo m and two penny pinching parents from Oakland or SFO to ? Dates: March 29-April 5, 08. Daughter wants Atlantas in Bahamas, I say not in our budget. We went to Cabo San Jose last year and had a great trip. We’re open to any suggestions.
    Thank you!

  6. Lynne Goheen says:

    Our family, a group of 18, has been trying to buy air from MSP to GCM, leaving 3/29/08 and returning 4/5/08. We have been working with a travel agent, as well as watching the fares ourselves on your website, ITA, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.. Over the last two days (9/4 and 5) we have seen fares change faster than we can buy the tickets. Also, the travel agent has not been able to tap the fares we see on line, to book us in smaller groups! I have never had this problem before- I have often found a flight and price I like on line, then called either the airline or a resort booking agent and booked air. Is something different happening such that now this system doesn’t work?
    At this time, we have air for part of our group, but needed to get a car also (through NWA) for the best price. We had this on hold with the agent, who obviously knew the numbers and sizes of people she was booking, and at conclusion of the sale said she couldn’t book into the cars she had quoted as they were too small for our group, nor could she upgrade to larger- unavailable! Although we knew that a group of 7 cannot fit into a full size car, we knew we can get another rental, or at worst a taxi. However, we have ended up with more smaller cars than we have drivers… My question again- what’s happening now? My husband and I have been to various places in the Caribbean 14 times and have never had these rapid and unexpected surprises occur!
    Any insights? And advice on getting the rest of us to the Caymans? Thank you!

  7. Tony Lenzi says:

    My fiancee and I were on an American flight to Belize City (BZE) from DCA with a stop in MIA. When we arrived at our gate in MIA, we were informed that our flight had been canceled for mechanical problems. We were given tickets for the next flight, leaving at 1:45 and each given a $10 food voucher.

    When we arrived at our resort in Belize we were discussing this problem with some other guests. Two other guests had the same problem. They were on the 10:45am flight out of MIA and their flight was canceled for “mechanical problems.”

    This seemed rather fishy to us. How could the same flight have a mechanical problem 3 days in a row? We believe that the flight was simply undersold as it’s the low travel season for Belize.

    Does anyone keep a record of flight cancellations and reasons? I’d be interested in seeing the track record of this flight.

    Also, would AA have owed us more than a $10 voucher if they had canceled the flight because it was undersold versus telling us it had mechanical problems?

    Thanks for the help!

  8. Ed Jacobson says:

    Rick,
    I have a question about an airline’s responsibility to its passengers regarding communicable diseases. I won’t mention any airline to protect the “until proven guilty” culprits.
    We were on a flight from Madrid to Miami in Business Class and a man near us had a hacking cough that he made no effort to contain.
    I asked the bursar if he could supply the man with a surgical mask, and the bursar told me that he could not. He told me that all he could do was to have the man checked by a doctor upon arrival. I requested that we all be advised of the results of the examination.
    We were never advised; I came down with a hacking cough (although not as bad as that man’s); I wrote to the airline asking whether the man had been examined as promised, and I received no reply.
    What should we expect from airlines?

  9. Hunter says:

    Hi Rick,

    I fly USAIR often because Philly is a hub for them. But on a couple recent trips, the USAIR planes I was on were incredibly old, dirty and worn out. The overhead bins, aisles and seats were much more cramped than a recent flight I took on Delta. One USAIR plane didn’t have any TVs at all. (I didn’t care about watching TV but figure that says something about the age of the plane?)

    What I’d like to know is, which airlines on average have the newest, most modern fleets and which are still using old ashcans from the days of sardine-packed, smoking flights? Also, are there certain cities or routes that get preference for the freshest planes (e.g., LA, SF, NYC) or is it strictly based on the age of the fleet?

  10. Margaret says:

    Hi Rick,

    I recently purchased a ticket from Cheapoair.com from San Francisco to Buenos Aires with a layover in LAX. I did not find out until I arrived LAX that there was another layover in Santiago, Chile. This was not stated anywhere on my booking confirmation or itinerary.

    Isn’t Cheapoair and other similar websites required by law to disclose all of the connections? Or is there a loophole where they don’t have to when the layover is at an international location?

    I feel decieved. Had I known about the Chile connection, I would never had purchased that airline ticket.

    thanks,
    Margaret

  11. TravelinTom says:

    Gee, Rick: I signed up for fare alerts to Lima and Buenos Aires but the first response I get is your blog and promos for flights to Europe. My question is: Should I unsubscribe to FareAlerts as I already get enough unsubscribed stuff from TripAdvisor?

  12. Karen says:

    I flew United a couple of times b/c it was the least expensive. However, the seats were so cramped, we are thinking about never flying them again. QUESTION: Are all United planes that cramped? We were absolutely miserable. I would hate to miss out on good prices b/c there is a certain United plane type (737,736, whatever?) that is cramped but there are other types of planes that arent.Thank you for your prompt response.

  13. Pam says:

    Hi Rick,

    I was watching the Today show this morning and noticed they had a story about this college girl who was told she couldn’t fly a flight with Southwestern because she was dressed “inappropriately”. Can they do that???

  14. Carol Wendorf says:

    Why is it so hard to get a flight from Chicago or Milwaukee to the Cayman Islands direct? Flights always sell out, the crowd in Miami where most connect is unbelievable and it would seem a few direct flights would lighten airport load.

  15. Rick Seaney says:

    Rick,

    We are hoping to take a trip to Rome, after we complete a retreat, to finish our spiritual journey. We can go anytime from the end of September through October. Any suggestions where to check for air fares? Will they be having some cheaper air fares? Right now, it seems high!!

    Thanks so much for your assistance and continued success!

    Mary

  16. ClareBare says:

    (Whoops, I originally posted this under the feedback section, which may have been the wrong place for it…I apologize.)

    Hi Rick,

    Im a huge fan of your website – love the email newsletters and the email alerts. Im really looking forward to your new feature alerting us when prices will be going up.

    On that note I wondered if you could suggest to me if I should hold on purchasing tickets for my family from JAX to AUS (for travel Dec 26-Jan 2) or if nows the time to purchase holiday fares?

  17. foxytv says:

    Hi Rick! We are getting married in Punta Cana, DR in April 2008. I have been tracking airfares from several different cities for that time and trying to decide when to book. Prices are still high for April when compared to prices I see through November that are $300+ less expensive. Is there a time when airfare ‘specials’ are likely to come out for Spring ’08 travel, or is it best to just go ahead and book the best price we can find now?

  18. Vicki Kidd says:

    I want to travel to Ft. Myers Fla next March. Right now the fares are way too much. Would I be better off booking now before they go higher or wait until after the first of the year and hope to get a cheaper fare. I live in Youngstown Ohio.

  19. Steve says:

    Hi Rick-

    First off, thanks for this great site and FareCompare.com. I have done my homework, but still seem to be a little unsure if I should wait or buy a ticket (I believe you called it “shakey hand when about to click on the buy button”)

    I’m looking for a flight for three of us from Rochester, NY to Houston, TX for President’s Week ’08 (for a cruise). Sat 2/16 -Sun 2/24. All the fares seem outrageous right now ($500+). I check fares every day 4-5X times for about a month now. It’s a busy travel week so I’m unsure to just “suck it up” or wait. I have air booked through the cruise line (have until the end of Nov to cancel the air) but would rather come in a day earlier to avoid delays and have some cushion

    ROC has notorious high fares so I am including BUF in my searches. I read (here) that Houston has reduced capacity which also concerns me.

    Any advice? Based on your info, it looks like they manage this route in three month segments. So am I looking at November before I see a good fare? Or are all bets off due to the week I am traveling?

    Regards

  20. Melanie says:

    Dear Rick,
    Looking forward to your posting overseas flights…I need to fly to London from Phoenix for next nothing. Thanks for any advise.

  21. Virginia M. says:

    Hi Rick,
    I do quite a bit of leasure traveling and often reserve tickets 6 – 9 months in advance. My question is: is it better to purchase tickets months in advance to beat cost hikes in airfare or do you believe the air fare prices will be dropping in 2008?
    Thanks for all your hard work.
    Virginia

  22. Roxanna Galbreath says:

    Friends and I are traveling from Los Angeles to Athens in September 2008 — is now too early to buy tickets if we’re looking for a good deal?
    Thank you.

  23. Lisa Nicol says:

    I was wondering what you can check as far as food to Cancun Mexico, we go every year and would love to bring some of our favorite foods?

  24. Kristie says:

    Hi,

    Alaska Airlines has a lock on non stop flights from Portland to Fresno but they are a bit spendy..no matter what time of year and how long I look, they are about $400.00 dollars. Is it because they are the only one going non stop on that route that they charge so much. There is some deals at inconvenient times…for me..but again they are not the non stop flight..which is really only one per day..I think. So I have been waiting to book for Xmas..but I think that there is not going to be a significant change.

  25. Rebecca says:

    Rick I had a question about using miles and cash and how I was able to get tickets to San Juan and then Hawaii but it all seemed to depend on who I got on the NWA 800 number. In the first case my mother kept calling back asking about using our frequent NWA points in combination with cash to go to San Juan. Several times the agents would say that we could not do the combination on the dates we chose. Finally my mother got a lady on the line that was more than happy to get use tickets for non-stop to San Juan.
    This past fall I started planning my 20th Anniversary with a cruise in the Hawaiian islands. My husband had over 118,000 FF miles so I called and of course the first person was unable to upgrade me and even told me that the fare had gone up some $300-400 dollars in just a day! I was so upset .. I called back and got a wonderful lady that worked very hard to not only get use two RT tickets she also was able to upgrade them to FIRST CLASS. Why does it seem that when I call back its like the luck of the draw as to the Worldperks agent I get and what they are willing to offer. To add to this I called back weeks later when the fare had changed and asked the agent if there was a change and they told me that I shouldn’t have even been able to get the flight arrangements of First Class that I did. What is up with this?
    Thanks Becky

  26. Carol Gregg says:

    I emailed you last week but I do not see it on the question section. What did I do wrong?

    Carol Gregg
    Powhatan, Va

  27. Daniel Ng says:

    I’ve seen these fare codes on your website for first class flights but I don’t know how to apply the fare code to get the price listed.

    Are there instructions on how to use the fare codes presented so I can get the price listed?

  28. Brenda says:

    Rick…..PLEASE HELP ME AS I AM FRANTIC. In September I was on an alert for best fare to New York from Dallas. I received the alert and immediately went to booked the flight. When I was directed to the American Airlines website it would only let me book 1 ticket at the low fare found and I needed 2. I did book the 1 ticket and now everyday I am checking on that flight and it keeps getting higher and higher. It is now 250.00 more than what I paid for first. Should I keep waiting to book 2nd ticket or book now before it goes any higher? This is for Dec 20 from Dallas to New York and returing on December 24. I do realize this is holiday but I got first ticket at a reasonable price and not they are out of site.

  29. jayne monaghan says:

    we have just had a death in the family we can not travel this wednesday coming and i would like to know how much it would cost to change the flights.we paid 175.84 i casn still use my return flight but need a going there flight ?

  30. Rick Seaney says:

    Jayne,
    This is something that’s strictly up to the airline, and if you bought a non-refundable ticket, chances are there will be a change fee. You can check our U.S. Domestic Airline Fee Chart at this link: http://rickseaney.com/domestic-airline-fee-chart-2/ or check with the airline and see if there is a change fee (chances are, there is one). However, it never hurts to ask if a change fee can be waived. I would contact the airline, explain the situation and see if they can help. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to be polite (that’s because airlines sometimes deal with a lot of angry customers). Let me know how it works out.
    Rick

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