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Cheap Flights to Cancun – Rick Seaney in USA Today

Cheap Flights Cancun USA Today

Rick Seaney – USA Today Airfare Expert

Hey, everyone – I wanted to alert you to my new gig as “Airfare Expert” for USA Today. My very first column is about finding cheap flights to Cancun and I hope you enjoy it – and score some deals.

Here’s an abbreviated version of the column:

Should I buy my tickets for Cancun now? 

This is a good time to get your tickets: Airfare to Cancun averages about $100 less than the two next most popular Mexican beach resorts, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

Best day to travel to Cancun?

This is a little different from my usual domestic travel advice which is to fly midweek; when it comes to Cancun, the best time to travel is usually Saturday because that’s when the most seats are available.

How good are Cancun deals? 

While most airfare prices are up (and sometimes way up), the cheapest roundtrip airfares to Cancun on flights from top cities in the U.S. in May average $473, and that compares favorably to last year’s prices..

When should I start to shop for Cancun? 

You can begin shopping for your Mexican beach flight about four months before departure.

When should I buy my plane tickets? 

My advice is to buy between four months and one month before departure. The airlines don’t usually get serious about releasing cheaper seats on these routes until that four-month mark. By the way, if you’re thinking of waiting until the last minute to buy, don’t – not this year.

Anything else? 

We are lucky that there are plenty of low cost airlines flying to Cancun, including AirTran, JetBlue, Spirit, Sun Country and Virgin America. It helps lower prices.

Learn more about FareCompare and the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets - and learn how to save big.

Airline Fees and Summer Travel – Video

If you didn’t catch me talking about some of the airline fees you could be paying this summer today on CNBC, please take a look at the video below – see me talk about past, present and future fees.

By the way, what would you pay to choose your own seatmate? Now that could get interesting:

Free Flights to Haul Steaks to…Afghanistan?

Free Flights to Bring Steaks to Afghanistan

If you didn’t get a chance to see the latest edition of my weekly ABC travel column, do take a look.

It’ll introduce you to a fascinating guy who founded a charity called Steak Team Mission; the outfit gets help from all kinds of companies (like American Airlines) to bring steak dinners to America’s men and women in uniform. Even if they’re in Afghanistan. Or Djibouti. Or aboard the Nimitz. Or in Texas (that’s the really heart- tugging vignette).

See the menu (let’s just say it’s meaty and jalapeno-y). Hear what the troops have to say. And enjoy meeting the founder of the mission.

It’s a fun and enlightening read, even if I do say so myself.

Learn about FareCompare, the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets for year-round savings.

Air Traffic Controller AWOL at Airport Along with Common Sense

March 24, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Pilots,Travel Safety | 0 comments

Air Traffic Controller AWOL at Airport So is Common Sense

UPDATE: Officials are now saying the controller fell asleep on the job.

EARLIER: This was all over the news today: how first an American Airlines plane, and then a United flight landed at D.C.’s Reagan National Airport without benefit of an air traffic controller. Nope, there was nobody home – or at least, nobody was answering the pilots when they checked in with the tower the other day.

Fortunately, there were no problems and both aircraft landed safely.

By the way, there was only one controller on the job. That’s right, just one. That controller has since been suspended while an investigation is underway.

Here’s my $.02: As a passenger, I would prefer that there be two folks in the cockpit as well as two folks in the tower every time I fly; if not, please let me know about this before I buy my airline ticket.

This is just another example of common sense being tossed out the window only to be uncovered in what could have been a potentially disastrous situation.

Gambling on the Cost of Airline Tickets?

March 17, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Gambling on Airline Tickets

Betting on Airfare

This is a weird one: Allegiant Air is apparently considered asking you to gamble on the price of your airfare.

Blame it on rising oil prices.

Gamble on Airfare, Gamble on Oil

Allegiant has suggested (and this has not been okayed by anyone, let alone the government) that passengers could choose between a “regular” ticket with a fixed price, or gamble on a so-called “variable” ticket. With a variable ticket, fliers would pay one price, but if the cost of jet fuel dropped by the departure date, the passenger would get cash back. However, if the price goes up, passengers would pay more (up to particular “cap”). Sound intriguing? Or looney?

I guess you have to remember where Allegiant is headquartered: Las Vegas.

It kind of reminds me of Continental’s fairly new FareLock innovation which allows you to book a flight and, if you like, you can pay a fee that starts at $9 to hold that reservation at the locked-in fare for up to a week. In other words, should the price of that airfare rise, you win, but if it drops, you can just cancel without paying the heavy change fee, and all you’re out is that FareLock fee.

Better Idea – Sign up for FareCompare Airfare Alerts

So let’s go back to Allegiant: I’m a little concerned that it will turn fliers into “oil price” day traders. I’ve got a better idea.

Sign up for the FareCompare Airfare Alerts, and let us do the work for you; we’ll watch the prices and let you know when they come down. No need to gamble whatsoever.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about betting on airfare? Tell me on the FareCompare Facebook page – I’d really love to hear.

More from Rick Seaney:

Got Luck? Gamble on Price of Your Airline Ticket

American Airlines Diets to Save on Fuel Costs

March 16, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Fuel Watch | 0 comments

American Airlines Diet to Save Fuel

I got a kick out of a recent story on the Dallas NBC affiliate (and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve appeared on their news many times – most recently in a story called “Time to Bag TSA Screeners?”).

The latest news concerns American Airlines’ new weight regimen; I guess you could call it a diet. It’s all about the various things the carrier is doing to drop weight on its planes in an effort to keep fuel costs down.

These new measures include replacing all 19,000 drink cart with new ones that are 12 pounds lighter than the old ones. Believe me, it adds up.

This reminds me of the legendary story about former American head Robert Crandall who, in a fit of cost-cutting, once ordered the removal of olives from salads in the onboard meals. Then, during the last fuel crisis – circa 2008 – we saw airlines removing life jackets from cabins and paper manuals from cockpits. And now, lighter drink carts. Nothing like $100 a barrel oil to get jets on a diet.

On the bright side, at least now when that drink cart comes by and whacks your elbow, it may not hurt as much.

Domestic Airfare Hike #7: FAIL (but don’t start celebrating yet)

March 11, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Domestic Airfare Hike 7 Fail

AmericanAirline’s attempted $10 roundtrip domestic airfare hike launched earlier this week was followed by an entire day of inactivity from legacy and low cost domestic airlines – meaning, they decided not to match the hike. So, moments ago, American rolled back the hike to maintain competitive equilibrium.

Does this mean consumers have hit their saturation point on higher ticket prices?

It is too early to tell. Just FYI, in 2008 we also saw a handful of unsuccessful hikes during weekly attempts in March and April of that year.

Rather than a statement on consumer demand waning, this aborted increase attempt could just as easily mean that domestic airlines want more time to evaluate bookings before jumping back in on the hike band wagon

I fully expect another domestic hike attempt next week, as carriers continue to probe the appetites of travelers (and that of their competition) to lift the price of airline tickets.

Learn more about FareCompare and the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets for year-round savings.

More Flights to Cuba from U.S. Airports

More Flights to Cuba from U.S. Airports

Exactly two years ago to this very day  - back on March 11, 2009 – I wrote a column for ABCNews.com called The Next Vacation Hot Spot: Cuba?” Now, it seems, that reality may be just around the corner.

We’ve received word that the United States Customs and Border Protection has now authorized more airports to offer passenger air service to and from Cuba via charter flights.

New York’s John F. Kennedy and Miami International are currently the only ones offering this service, and at the moment, charters are limited to travel for Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, for journalists and for those making authorized religious or educational trips.

But I imagine it won’t be long before we’ll see Cuba opening up to regular tourists like you and me. And why not?

A lot of us are ready for adventure: according to the latest government data, 30% of us have passports (and it would be great if more of us got them) – so why not use them for travel to an international destination in our own backyard that’s both accessible and affordable, especially compared to other popular Caribbean vacation spots? Anyway, it is great to see one of the last remaining icebergs from the Cold War – the ban on travel to Cuba – slowly but surely thawing.

And yes, I can hear all you cigar aficionados out there saying, gracias!

For the record, airports now authorized for charters to Cuba include the following (in no particular order):

  • Pittsburgh International Airport
  • Miami International
  • New York’s John F. Kennedy
  • Los Angeles International
  • Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International
  • Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International
  • Baltimore/Washington International
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International
  • New Orleans Louis Armstrong International
  • Chicago’s O’Hare International
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Puerto Rico’s San Juan Louis Munoz Marin International

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