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Attention Travelers in Cairo, Egypt – Evacuation Flights Now Underway

January 31, 2011 | Posted in: News,Passengers,Travel Safety | 0 comments

Cairo Egypt Evacuation Flights

I don’t have to tell you about the difficult situation in Cairo and other areas of Egypt; it’s all over the news.

If you have family or friends there in need of assistance, please go to Travel.State.Gov, which is the U.S. State Department’s website – and see further contact information below.

Emergency Flights

The U.S. government has begun flying travelers out of Cairo today, January 31 – see these FAQ’s for more on these emergency flights. You must let the embassy know you want a place on these flights, which for now, have been departing from Cairo International Airport’s HAJ Terminal 4. Priority is given to those with medical problems.

Contact the U.S. State Dept.

Here is how to get in touch with U.S. government officials monitoring the situation in Egypt:

Travelers in Egypt

Contact or go in person to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo (if it seems safe to get there):

The Embassy of the United States of America – Cairo
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo
Telephone: (20-2) 2797 3300, Fax: (20-2) 2797 3200

Website: http://cairo.usembassy.gov/

From Travel.State.Gov: U.S. citizens in Egypt are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov.  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

Rick Seaney on Good Morning Texas – Oil, Airline Fees and Super Bowl Airfare

January 27, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Destinations,Multimedia | 0 comments

Rick Seaney GMT Airfare Super Bowl

I appeared on WFAA’s Good Morning Texas today and gave them some analysis of current oil prices, and what it means for airfare (hint: see my previous posts about recent airfare hikes).

I also talked about my predictions for possible new airline fees - like a fee for holding an infant on our lap! Plus, some Super Bowl airfare stories to go along with what I’ve seen happening to prices for hotels and rental cars.

Makes you wonder if the “D” in Big D stands for “dear” and I don’t mean as in “sweetheart”.

See for yourself in the video, below:

Welcome to Dallas. Now Open Your Wallet for Planes, Cars, Hotels

American Airlines U.S. Cities Airfare Sale

Rick Seaney talks about Dallas Super Bowl prices today on WFAA’s Good Morning Texas.

I’m lucky. I live in greater Dallas. So I don’t have to spend a fortune on airfare to see the Super Bowl (and I don’t have to spend a fortune on tickets either, since I’ll be enjoying the game in the comfort of my home).

For those of you who are heading this way, welcome to Big D. And yes, if you’re a careful shopper and flexible on your travel dates, you can still find some relatively cheap flight deals to Dallas, but if not – time to get your wallets out.

I just looked at airfare prices again. And hotels. And cars. Not pretty (but there is some good news, at the very end).

Here’s what I found – and these prices were good as of Wed., Jan. 26 (though prices are bouncing around a bit):

For you Cheeseheads: 

  • Flights from Milwaukee to Dallas: depart Feb. 4, return Feb. 7 – $845 roundtrip

For you Steeler fans:

  • Flights from Pittsburgh to Dallas: same dates – $821 roundtrip

Fans from NY and LA:

Although it’s just about the same flight distance, there is quite a difference between roundtrip airfare from the two biggest cities on the East and West Coasts.

  • New York – Dallas has been running about $750
  • Los Angeles – Dallas, about $369

Well, it figures. LA has no dog in this fight, or any other – not since their last home team, the Raiders departed for Oakland back in ’94.

Now let’s talk about hotels.

Moderately priced hotels, even cheap hotels – aren’t cheap, or moderate – not during The Game anyway (again, I’m seeing price changes so what you see may be different since I last checked).

  • $758 – 2 nights at the La Quinta in Euless, Texas (2/5 – 2/6) – microwave included!
  • $1,209 - 3 nights (required) at a Super 8 in Arlington – room with one king bed.

And now, rental cars.

I checked with Hertz at DFW, and wouldn’t you know all the fun vehicles are sold out for Super Bowl weekend: no Cadillac Escalades, no Sebrings, no Mustang convertibles and most of the SUVs are gone. Okay, but there is a Chevy Aveo (or similar!) available for the weekend with no extras for $340.66.

Well, at least it’ll seem natural sitting in that little car, after your cramped airline seat.

Finally, a little good news on the bargain front: our local Minyard supermarket has a couple of specials: chicken drumsticks for just $.99 a pound and two giant bags of corn chips for $5. I guess you take your silver linings where you can find them.

Now excuse me, I’ve got to get to the store.

Delta Calls Audible, Adds Flights to Big D for Steelers Fans

January 24, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Delta | 0 comments

Good news for Steelers fans: Delta is adding 3 nonstop flights between Pittsburgh and Dallas/Fort Worth for the weekend of Super Bowl XLV.

That’s right, Steelers fans: Delta is calling an audible just for you! A press release from Pittsburgh International notes “Delta does not normally operate nonstop flights on the Pittsburgh-Dallas/Fort Worth route.”

But for the big game, “we’re proud to be flying some of football’s greatest fans on Delta to cheer on the Steelers in the Super Bowl,” says Wayne Aaron, Delta Vice President — Marketing Programs and Distribution Strategy.

Read more about Delta’s special schedule in this USA Today article.

More Airline Fees in 2011? My Predictions

January 20, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News | 0 comments

Prediction – Fees will Rise

Airline fees that were once unthinkable may become the norm; blame it on the rising price of oil. Plus, watch for price hikes in existing fees, too.

I’ve been studying the matter, and the following are what I consider to be the six likeliest new or changed fees in the coming year. Get on Facebook and tell me if you agree or disagree – or have your own ideas for new fees we’ll see.

Bonus: At the end, I’ll tell you which fees we probably won’t see in 2011.

Top 6 Likely New Airline Fee Changes in 2011

These are real possibilities in the coming year:

  1. No More Free Rides for Infants: Currently, babies under the age of two fly free if they sit on an adult’s lap on flights within the U.S. Don’t be surprised if airlines start charging half-priced fares for  these lap children.
  2. No More Free Meals in Coach on Transoceanic Flights: United Airlines tried this without success in the last 18 months but if the price of oil keeps rising, look for others to try this – and make it stick.
  3. Charging for Overweight Carryon Bags: Hawaiian Airlines already charges an overweight fee for carryons weighing more than 25 pounds; look for others to try this, too. Airlines may find policing this a pain, but presumably a new revenue stream will make it easier to bear. See our Domestic Baggage Fee Chart for more.
  4. Charging for Soft Drinks and Water on Domestic flights: US Airways gave this a whirl a couple of years ago but within a few months, dropped the unpopular policy. However, I think it’s likely this is an idea whose time has come – again.
  5. Award Redemption Fees: Paying a fee to redeem your free ticket has already happened; Northwest (now part of Delta) tried it during the last fuel crisis; again, check today’s oil prices – this could happen.
  6. Bundled Fees: This is something we’ll supposedly like: pre-packaged or bundled fees for a discounted price. Another form we might see this in is using branded credit cards to save more on fee bundles.

Airline Fees You Probably Won’t See in 2011

No, I don’t think we’ll see fees for oxygen masks or lavatories or similar, nor these:

  • TV Turn-off Fee: So those annoying programs quit interrupting your catnaps
  • The Apple Fee: For those who want to watch videos on a seatmate’s iPad
  • Record-the-Delay Fee: For using a smartphone video camera to document a 3 hour tarmac delay
  • Reclining Fee: For using your seat as it was intended
  • Online Reservation Fee: To make reservations on an airline website (Spirit excepted)
  • Carryon Bag Fees: Yes, Spirit does it attracted such scorn from the public that I don’t expect other airlines will try it. Yet.

DFW to the Land Down Under — Non-Stop

January 19, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Destinations,Uncategorized | 0 comments

Good news for Dallas travelers who want to visit the “land down under” — Australia just got a little closer. Well not exactly closer…but it’ll be easier to get there!

Starting in May, DFW will have a 16 1/2 hour non-stop to Sydney aboard a 747 on Qantas Airways — the national airline for Australia.

Australia has something for everyone, like beautiful beaches, the famously rugged Outback,  and the style and sophistication of Sydney — Australia’s largest city.

And for those who REALLY want a great look at all that Sydney has to offer, I encourage you to take part in the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart!

Traveling to Australia is by no means cheap – fares can be in the ballpark of $1500 roundtrip – but I’ll be sure to keep you posted on any deals, so keep coming back to visit my blog and FareCompare.com.

G’day for now — and happy travels!

Btw: For those of you in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, I’ll be on the WFAA TV news - channel 8 – at 5pm tonight to discuss Australia travel. Be sure to tune in!

5 Things Airfare Shoppers Need to Know to Find Cheap Flights

January 18, 2011 | Posted in: Multimedia,Tips and Tricks,Travel Tips | 0 comments

Want to find cheap airfare? Of course you do – you wouldn’t be visiting FareCompare otherwise, because that’s what we do.

Earlier today I appeared in a Good Morning America report on airlines and fees; if you didn’t catch it, take a look at the video below..

Then, be sure and take a look at the Five Things Airfare Shoppers Need to Know, just after the video.

Five Things Airfare Shoppers Need to Know to Find Cheap Flights

Follow these tips – or as many of them as you can – and you will save money. Quite a bit, in some cases.

1. Shop for Airline Tickets on Tuesday at 3pm Eastern

I’ve been watching this rule play out for the past several years, and I know it works – because no airline wants to offer fares even a dollar more than its rivals. See for yourself: 

  • Normally, an airline (or two or three) will launch an airfare sale Monday evening
  • Other airlines then begin matching the new lower prices
  • This matching is typically finished by 3pm Eastern Tuesday

2. Be Flexible – Travel Days

Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays: These are almost always the cheapest days to fly. Avoid travel on Fridays and Sundays, usually the most expensive days to fly.

3. Be Flexible – Time of Day You Fly

These are usually the cheapest times to fly: 

  • Fly at dawn, lunch time, the dinner hour, as well as the later evening hours
  • Catch an overnight red-eye flight

Fly when most people don’t want to fly, and you will save.

4. Fly in-and-out of Major Airports

Larger airports, especially airline hubs, have cheaper airfare prices. Not always, but usually. Here’s an easy way to find the best prices: 

Look at the prices you’re sent and decide if a longer drive to a larger airport makes sense for you.

5.  Don’t Pay Airline Fees

Always avoid the worst of the airline fees and we show you the prices in the FareCompare Domestic Airline Fee Chart

  • Use a carryon bag: a single checked-bag adds $50 to your airfare price
  • Pack a lunch: do you really want to pay $10 for a meal you don’t like?
  • Bring a neck pillow and a sweater: JetBlue and US Airways now charge $7 for a pillow/blanket combo while American Airlines charges $8

Back to Back Domestic Airfare Hikes

January 17, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Airline News | 0 comments

Back to back airfare hikes

UPDATE #2 (1-18-11 2:25pm CST): At lunch time today Southwest jumped in matching the cheaper of the two initiated hikes (see initial rundown below) across the bulk of their route system.

The Southwest matching was was about 75% of the level of the hike in the first week of the year underscoring that competitive pressure still prevents complete system wide increase attempts.

Additionally Alaska Airlines also matched along with US Airways adding more matching routes – virtually assuring the success of this hike making it the 4th in a little over a month.

Because this hike was initiated by two airlines simultaneously with different amounts, airlines have matched portions of both hikes in order to maintain a competitive equilibrium.

I don’t recall seeing Southwest, even in the height of runaway oil prices in 2008 match or initiate domestic airfare hikes in two successive weeks — or for that matter successive months.

UPDATE #1 (1-17-11 10:42pm CST): 

Continental and US Airways matched the United Airlines version of the hike ($4 to $10 roundtrip), while American matched both United and Delta ($10 to $20 roundtrip).  Southwest matched Delta in a relatively small number of markets.

Tonight’s domestic airfare feed is not all bad news for price conscious consumers as Frontier launched a big sale along with typical Monday evening sale activity from Southwest – it isn’t unusual to see sales with limited number of seats amidst domestic airfare increases.

EARLIER: At 1pm EST today the FareCompare proprietary airfare processing system detected significant domestic airfare hike activity simultaneously from both Delta and United Airlines on over 40,000 city pairs representing the bulk of their respective route systems.

Delta raised domestic ticket prices by up to $20 roundtrip ($10 each-way) and United by up to $10 roundtrip ($5 each-way).

The Delta hike is laddered – based on distance with $5 hikes each-way for trips less than 1,500 miles and $10 for longer trips.

The United hike is also mileage based into 3 groupings: $2 each-way for trips less than 500 miles, $3 each-way between 500 – 1,500 miles and $5 each-way for trips more than 1,500 miles.

Usually one airline leads out on a domestic hike with others deciding to match in the following 36 hours; in this case either United or Delta will have to modify their hike to bring them in line with one another ($10 or $20 roundtrip) as airlines still live by the recessionary competitive rule of never being $1 more or less than their competiton.

The next domestic airfare distribution is at 8pm EST and we are likely to see significant matching activity by legacy airlines; oddly, Continental did not file a hike along with its newly merged partner at 1pm.

While we have seen this pace of weekly domestic hike activity in 2007 and 2008, we have never seen Southwest match legacy-initiated hikes in back-to-back weeks.

OPEC revised its 2011 demand forecast earlier today which, along with the economy, has airline management’s full attention.

This domestic airfare hike attempt represents the 2nd in 2011 and the 4th since mid December of last year.

We will continue to update as significant events occur.

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