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Airfare Hike #9 Underway. Here We Go – Again!

April 2, 2011 | Posted in: Airfare News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Domestic Airfare Hike #9 Underway

UPDATE (4/6/11): The 9th attempted domestic airfare hike of 2011 has failed. The final remnants (price increases) were rolled back yesterday afternoon, making this the third consecutive airfare hike to end in failure.

EARLIER:

Airfare Rising: The airlines are trying to raise airfare prices for the ninth time this year – and if you’ve been paying attention, then you know that most of the hikes have been successful.

Check out my latest exclusive on this new airfare hike attempt – and I really want you to take a look at the pretty amazing graphic on airfare prices over the past couple of years. It’ll give you an oh-so-clear picture of what’s happening (and likely, what to expect).

What can you do? Well, at FareCompare, we’ll always show you the best prices available, but I urge you to sign up for our free, real-time airfare alerts. It’s so simple, and we do the work for you – letting you know when prices on trips you’re interested in come down.

Outrage over Spirit Airlines’ New Baggage Fee

April 1, 2011 | Posted in: Airline News,Pricing Activity | 0 comments

Outrage over Spirit Airlines New Bag Fee

Well, there’s outrage in the media over this new baggage fee at least. I haven’t really heard much from passengers.

I am talking about a new fee from low-cost airline Spirit that’s really more of a “late payment” penalty. Spirit now charges an extra $5-$10 if you don’t pay your bag fees by 24 hours of departure time. By the way, other airlines do something similar by charging you a few bucks more for paying for checked-bags at the airport instead of online.

What do I think? I am in the crowd of roll-it-all-into-the-ticket-price so I can compare apples to apples – but since I know this isn’t going to happen in this new “airline fee generation” of ours, then it’s all about being well informed about all the trap doors you have to navigate to keep from whipping out your credit card.

A good way to stay informed is to check out the FareCompare Domestic Airline Baggage Fee Chart before you fly. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay a fee for your first checked-bag unless you’re flying JetBlue or Southwest. And so far, only Spirit charges for a carryon – but watch out: Allegiant is “thinking about it.”

Do you long for the days when we paid one price for an all-inclusive airline ticket? I’d love to hear your airline fee stories on Facebook.

[Editor's note: Rick almost always avoids bag fees because he almost always travels with a carryon].

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.

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