Archive for June, 2007

UK Airports Restricting Cars at Terminals

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Recent terror threats in the UK have led to more restrictions on vehicles throughout the UK and at other airports around the world. UK Terminal restrictions from Sunday Times. Check BAA.com for major UK Airport details.

CNN reports on the heightened security at US Airports in light of the attack in Glasgow Scotland Airport (GLA).

Flight Explorer for excellent up to the minute travel data

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Flight Explorer is an excellent website for up to the minute flight and airport information. They report regularly on CNN and have some great free tools that show air traffic, weather delays, WIFI hotspot list, and more. Here’s the link to their TRAVEL section: FlightExplorer.com

Chicago O’Hare Airport ORD

Monday, June 25th, 2007
One of the world’s busiest, O’Hare is a well organized airport and generally you’ll have no problems finding your way around the terminals although it can take some time to get from one end of the airport to the other. The website for O’Hare is flychicago.com. It is a challenge to navigate FlyChicago.com because it is so complex and overdone with heavy graphics so here are some links to key information at O’Hare:

Travelers Guide – printable with good information (pdf)
FAQ for O’Hare Airport
Flight Search
Terminal maps with restaurant info

Here’s a nice guide to Chicago. An area I use to personally enjoy on visits years ago is the lakefront, home to 3? great museums, an aquarium, fine walking and views.

O’Hare is so so large that it may be a good idea to print a terminal map so you can find your way to connecting flights. This is a *huge* airport so always allow enough time to get between flights. Generally airlines will allow enough time between flights so you don’t have to make a mad rush for the next gate unless the first plane arrives late. In fact if planes are on time you can (rarely) arrange for an earlier flight by showing up at the gate for an earlier flight to your destination. There are rules about scheduling close flights and they don’t always match up with the best plan for you personally.

For specific details about making “close” flights contact your airline.

Chicago O’Hare’s name is a *very* interesting story. Formerly”Orchard Field”, it was renamed after naval pilot Butch O’Hare, who led one of WW II’s most daring air battles to preserve the US Aircraft Carrier Lexington from an attack. A month later O’Hare led another daring attack against torpedo bombers. His plane disappeared. Butch O’Hare was never found.

Travel Tip – Priceline for Cars

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Although I’ve had generally poor results with Priceline my car rental tonight went very well and saved me about $90. I’ve been looking for a few months for a good rate for our Philadelphia and Pennsylvania trip. We need to pickup and return at PHL and the best I’ve found so far was Hotwire at about $440. Kayak.com, my usual suspect for finding great rates, was about $600!

I started my priceline bid at $20 per day for 12 days and didn’t get it, but the popup gave me another shot and my $22 bid (excluding taxes and fees) got accepted by Hertz.

Hmmm – in this case I knew the fees because I had them from the non-accepted 20 bid but not sure how Priceline informs you of fees if your initial bid is accepted.

As always you need to use *great caution* when booking cars because of these extra fees. Some services, like Kayak, include these in their “daily” quote but many car rental sites do NOT include the substantial fees until your final screens, and this can be confusing.

Your Offer Price: $22.00
Total Rental Days: 12
Subtotal: $264.00
Taxes & Fees: $96.72
Total Charges: $360.72

Here’s the HOTWIRE Quote:
Rental days:
$29.95
Daily rate:
$359.40
Subtotal:
Tax recovery
$91.51
charges and fees:

$450.91

Top Ten Airports for domestic travel, first quarter

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

US DOT has released first quarter data about domestic travel from US Airports, and the top three airports are Atlanta – ATL, Chicago ORD, and Dallas DFW. Denver DIA was fourth with a whopping 5% increase in travel through Denver International.

1

Atlanta 8.720 1 8.867 -1.7
2 Chicago – O’Hare 7.181 2 7.345 -2.2
3 Dallas – Fort Worth 6.055 3 6.131 -1.2
4 Denver 5.367 4 5.114 4.9
5 Las Vegas 4.974 5 4.934 0.8
6 Los Angeles International 4.962 6 4.855 2.2
7 Phoenix 4.894 7 4.841 1.1
8 Houston – Bush 4.074 9 4.000 1.9
9 Orlando 4.032 8 4.039 -0.2
10 Minneapolis – St. Paul 3.699 10 3.727 -0.7

Airport to avoid? Nah

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Smarter Travel’s got comments on USA Today’s “blacklist” of airports that statistically suffer from more delays, crowding, and other things you’d want to avoid. Also, the white list that seems to be smaller airports that would be hard to factor into your trip.

I’m not convinced this approach makes much sense. Factors outside of the airports control are the main things affecting flight delays and I’d rather shave off a few hours of flying than have a slightly “nicer” airport experience. Also, the larger airports offer more restaurants, lounges, and sky clubs which are often the best way to make a long flight delay the least stressful.

Obviously large hub airports are going to have more troubles, but they also are going to offer you the more desirable routing. Sure, all other things equal you may want to choose the whitelisted airports at Oakland, Houston (Hobby), San Jose, Dallas (Love Field), and St. Louis, but good luck finding good, inexpensive routes through those airports if you are not headed in or out of those particular destinations.

Airline Ticketing Tips from TheStreet.com

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

TheStreet has some good tips for saving on your airline tickets.

My simple ones are these:

Use comparison sites, especially Kayak.com. Kayak features Orbitz.com
but you may also want to use the Orbitz matrix feature which allows you to specify flexible dates. Having date flexibility can be a good key to lower fares.

Spend some time at it. Devote at least a few hours over the several months before your trip to find the best fares. Obviously this matters more for a family buying 3+ tickets than a single flyer so you can adjust that time committment accordingly.

Waiting until last minute is usually a bad idea, esp if only weeks are left, because you’ll have to take whatever fare comes up. However you can also book too early. Summer discount specials often don’t come up until spring and I’ve often found good rates into June for July and August travel though I don’t like to wait that long.

Get on email alert lists for Orbitz and others. This will help remind you to keep looking and will alert you to fare decreases.

Don’t forget your car – this can be more than the cost of the plane ticket, and car prices vary a lot. If you see one of those “129 per week” specials book it immediately. This year appears to be bad for car discounts. And…get a *small* car. Rates approach the absurd for SUVs and big rental cars. If you have money to burn get a small car, save hundreds per week, and make a donation to mosquito nets to save some lives.

Check out some of the new prediction tools for ticket prices like Yahoo’s FareCast

Summer Delays Expected

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Many are predicting airline delays this summer as travel heats up and airports are crowded.
The News Observer observes that increasing use of discount airlines for business travel and leisure travel is putting an added strain on existing airport facilities. I think this is a taste of how air travel will change in the future – basically we’ll continue to have relatively cheap cross country and international flights but we’ll see sacrifices in service, quality, on-time flights, and perhaps even safety.

In my opinion flying is actually *way too safe* right now because we spend *way too much* on airline safety and ineffective TSA measures while foregoing cheap life saving tools like more clever enforcements of smoke detector and seatbelt rules, drunk driving rules, etc. Each year only a few thousand people die from air crashes *world wide* while over 35,000 are usually killed on US Highways alone. US Air crashes are extremely rare despite the huge traffic from US air travel.

It’s ironic but true that lower safety standards … will save more lives.

Flybe named top UK Airline Carrier

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Flybe, a discount airline company based in Norwich, UK, was recently named the top budget carrier in the UK. More about that at UK Telegraph here.

Flybe
operates in 22 European Airports with 152 routes to 34 European destinations. Flybe bills itself as the most “environmentally friendly” fleet with “UK’s only” low cost business service.

Flybe’s recent aquistion of another regional carrier makes Flybe the largest independent regional carrier in Europe.

Note however that RyanAir and other carriers maintain a huge ridership advantage in the European Market

Hawaii interisland air specials thrive as new Superferry steams into port

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Hawaii’s Superferry luanches this summer with ports of call at several Hawaiian islands with a travel time of about 2-4 hours between islands depending on the trip. Fares appeared reasonable even for vehicles. If you rent cars in Hawaii this may change the strategy somewhat which used to be to rent a car on the Big Island for sightseeting, and then do without one on Oahu where public transportation and hotel shuttle abound.

It’s probably not a coincidence that interisland flight specials are in bloom this summer as Airlines work to compete with what will likely be a very popular ferry system.