As a frequent flier and employee of the airline industry, I have witnessed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly of air travel. Although I have been in the industry for over fifteen years, I am by no means an expert on the issues. However, I hope my limited insight will help make your next trip a little less stressful and more enjoyable.
Do you know what a modern woman makes for dinner? Reservations. It may be a light hearted affair for her but when and how you make your reservations to travel can be one of your most important steps. With the disappearance of travel agents, most passengers are now using the internet and making their own travel arrangements online. However, this needs to be done with a bit of caution.
Travel sites like Orbitz and Expedia often mix and match your connection cities, departure times and even the airlines you fly in order to give you a cheaper ticket. Unfortunately, sometimes this is done with non realistic amount of ground connection time.
You may go to Las Vegas on Delta non stop but return on American with a connection in Dallas. A possible bargain unless you miss your connection in Dallas.
Avoid purchasing tickets with less than one hour connection times. If you book with the airlines directly you will probably pay a little more for your ticket but you will most likely avoid this situation. The extra money is worth you not having to try and beat Usain Bolt World Record while dragging your kids and luggage through the airport.
Also beware of the creative differences that airlines use between direct and non stop flights. Only non stop flights which are usually more expensive get you direct to your destination without connections.
A direct flight only means that you will have the same flight number from Point A to B. You may have multiple stops and even be required to change airplanes at various connecting cities. A typical Southwest itinerary when traveling from Orlando to Seattle is an example of this. Leaving Southwest from Orlando on August 3rd at 3.05pm, you would change planes in Austin, Texas make another stop in Phoenix before arriving in Seattle 10 hours and 45 minutes later. Non stop on Alaska Airlines 6 hours.
If possible choose the first flight departing from your destination which historically runs on time. Under normal circumstances early mornings like late evenings is usually the best time to fly from a weather perspective.
Stay away from a connection that takes you through certain hub cities at particular times of the year. Connecting through Minneapolis in the middle of winter or Dallas in the peak of summer thunderstorms will almost certainly present a high possibility of delays. Save yourself the stress and choose another airline even if you have to pay a few bucks more for your ticket.
For sure some airplanes are more comfortable than others and you should factor this into your ticket purchase considerations.
I have had friends bemoan having a five hour flight to Las Vegas on Spirit’s cramped coach seating.
On the return trip they paid an extra $75 for a First Class seat and found the flight so much more enjoyable.
With your research complete, purchase your ticket as far in advance as possible. Having flexibility can save you a few bucks for a brew when you arrive relaxed at your destination.
The above applies to all airlines regardless of which one you chose. For the average traveler all airlines are the same unless you are willing to pay premium dollars for First Class or other creature comforts like Exit Row Seating.
Despite their name, low cost carriers like Air Tran or Southwest do not always have the lowest priced tickets. The formula used to calculate airline ticket prices by it's vary nature has to be a complicated one. Similar to any other business airlines try to get the maximum dollar for their product although it is a rather unusual product indeed.
For example, a flight from Miami to New York with 16 First Class and 132 Coach Class seats operates everyday regardless of how many passengers are on board. With a fix cost of lets say $8000.00, the airline needs to generate at least this much in revenue to break even. If it knew the flight would always fly full and it's operating cost would remain fixed then calculating ticket prices could be simple. $8000.00 divided by 148 and everyone would pay about $55 plus taxes. A bargain if there were no variables like fuel prices, unscheduled maintenance, air traffic control or weather delays.
Did you know a one cent increase in the cost of fuel adds millions of dollars in expenses for airlines? A typical passenger airplane depending on it's size and configuration uses anywhere from 750 to 5000 gallons of JET-A fuel per hour.
Where can we send you the bill?
Let’s recap the important points.
1. Cheap Tickets are not always the best deals if you want a pleasant air travel experience.
2. Choose Non Stops flights and avoid the Direct Flight trap. You want a minimum amount of connections with realistic connection times.
3. Seasonally avoid certain hub cities for connections.
4. Pay a little extra for creature comforts by choosing the type of airplane you fly or where you sit once on board.
5. Purchase your ticket as far in advance as possible.
Armed with this information, I hope you can now make an informed and educated ticket purchase. I think this is the first step in conquering the sometimes unfriendly skies.
I will update this blog or make new postings on the subject of air travel on a regular basis. In the mean time feel free to leave me your comments or questions. I hope if you fly my airline you will not be disappointed.Welcome, Onboard!
For ticket purchases I recommend searching Orbitz www.orbitz.com or Expedia www.expedia.com to give yourself a ballpark figure to work with. However, Orbitz and Expedia do not include all airlines particularly the low cost carriers. Those require separate searches.