Rick Seaney, co-founder of FareCompare.com - is a world-class air travel expert.
FareCompare.com presides over a kingdom of sophisticated software that searches out fares and destinations at a billion combinations per query - while keeping track of 500 airlines serving more than 270,000 markets around the globe.
And all of Rick's data is updated continuously - in real-time.
No wonder he's the media's go-to guy for all things air travel. He's got the answers. And he loves to share his knowledge.
That's why Rick and the team created FareCompare.com - to help everyone become an air travel expert, and get the best deals first -- every time they fly.
My latest airfare column for USA Today is about finding deals to Orlando. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a down-and-dirty version, but please see Airfare Expert: Scoring a cheap ticket to Orlandofor all the behind-the-scenes details (plus some fascinating charts).
Which airline to fly to Orlando?
Chances are good you’ll fly a low-cost airline to Orlando. Southwest alone controls about 25% of all seats to Orlando and together, Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue fly half of all the seats.
When to buy tickets to Orlando?
Quick answer: buy as soon as possible, but not too early. If you buy more than three months before departure you may pay more.
Shop for cheap flights to Orlando on Tuesdays
Tuesday is the best time to start shopping, specifically Tuesday at 3 pm Eastern. We know this because an airline typically launches a sale on Monday evening, and by the following afternoon, other airlines have matched the discounts to stay competitive. Note: these airfare sales typically last three days, meaning your optimal shopping window is Tuesday to Thursday. If you shop on the weekend, you will probably pay more.
Cheapest days and times to fly to Orlando?
Many of the lowest fares to Orlando are restricted to departures on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, which are typically the cheapest days to fly to any U.S. destination. If this doesn’t work for your schedule, try to fly on at least one of these days, so you reap a partial cost benefit.
Don’t forget the baggage fees
Figure on $50 per person per checked-bag unless you fly the “free bag” airlines: JetBlue and Southwest. Personally, I always use a carryon.
Coming in for the Super Bowl? You’ll need the patience of Job this weekend in Dallas.
The airports have been struggling and the terrain is treacherous. We’ve had dozens of street closures and even some rolling blackouts this week as cold, sleet and finally snow have all conspired to temporarily turn the Big D into the Big Chill.
The following is from Southwest’s website; conditions at Love Field (DAL) in Dallas as of noon today (2-4-11):
“Given the lingering winter weather conditions, there is the possibility that our Friday afternoon and evening flights to/from DAL could be disrupted (delayed, diverted, and/or cancelled).”
If you’re coming in for the big game, or traveling to any of the many cities affected by the severe winter weather – especially in the southern states – check with your airline for the latest on bad weather delays and cancelations. And dress warmly while you’re here; temperatures are going to be in the mid-40′s on game day, or so we hear.
And bear all this in mind if you’ll be attending next year’s Super Bowl – in Indianapolis.
You’ve seen the news: snow and ice in much of the nation (and I can tell you the roads in Dallas were very icy this morning).
If you’re supposed to fly today, one word of advice: don’t.
Stay home and avoid the mess at the airports:
Take advantage of the airline “change fee” waivers: Contact your airline to reschedule your flight without having to pay the $150 change fee.
Don’t get stuck: Being at the airport is no guarantee of quick rescheduling; a colleague’s wife who was scheduled to fly today just learned she won’t depart snowbound Scotland until Friday
Already at the airport? Contact your airline immediately. More tips:
Multi-task communications: If your flight is canceled or delayed, immediately get in line and listen to the gate agent; at the same time, call the airline (it may be quicker)
Use your elite miles status: If your status entitles you to a dedicated airline phone number, use it
Follow your airline on Twitter: Airlines have staff monitoring social networks, and often respond more quickly to tweets for help than other communications
Important Note! There is a misconception that there is a federal requirement that forces airlines to provide you with hotel or meal vouchers in weather situations; there is not. Bad weather is considered outside an airline’s control. However, some airlines may offer such things as a goodwill gesture, and by all means, ask.
While Congressional action on “airline passenger bill of rights” legislation seems to have stalled, don’t worry – Ray LaHood, the activist Secretary of the Dept. of Transportation is looking out for you - tweaking the rules to make them more passenger-friendly.
A prime example: Last year’s “3-Hour” rule which penalizes airlines for waiting on the tarmac longer than three hours.
LaHood also wants to raise the compensation for “involuntary bumping”; you know about bumping right? I talked about it in my guide to airline passenger rights that I wrote a few months back.
Bumping was also the topic of my interview on WTXF News today - especially a new system Delta is trying which involves passengers bidding for the least amount of compensation they’d accept for getting bumped.
Delta’s bidding system has plusses and minuses for passengers, and mostly plusses for Delta, as far as I can see.
Delta saves money – if passengers agree to accept less than the airline is willing to pay
Delta could improve its on-timerecord – if bidding proves quicker than the old system
Passengers could also benefit from more on-time departures; however, they may ultimately get less compensation.
Know Your Rights: Delta’s new bidding system involves people willing to be “voluntarily” bumped. If someone is booted from a flight who didn’t volunteer – and Delta can’t get that passenger on another flight within the hour – that passenger is entitled to receive as much as $800 in compensation; plus the passenger can request that compensation be in cash, not vouchers.
I appeared on the WFAA program Good Morning Texas today, part of a regular segment called “Rick’s Seaney’s Travel Advice” and as usual I had a lot to say and plenty of tips to dispense.
Take a look at the travel advice video for yourself; I start off by talking about the American Airlines dispute with Orbitz and Expedia, and wind up with some advice for anyone interested in Spring Break travel.
And please see my three important tips for purchasing Spring Break airfare, just below the video. As always, I want you to get the best deals – and if you have any other tips – share them on Facebook.
Spring Break Travel Tips
Start shopping now, by looking at ticket prices on FareCompare