Archive for June, 2007

Ryanair Rocking European Air Travel

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

IATA reports that discount airline Ryanair led all other European passenger carriers in 2006 with almost 41 million cross-border passengers. Lufthansa, Air France, and British Airways follow. Here are the numbers for 2006:

RyanAir Holdings 40,532,000 passengers.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG 38,236,000 passengers.

Air France 30,417,000 passengers

British Airways 29,498,000 passengers

What an Airline Wants

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Recently the big airline association IATA, met to discuss the industry. This USA Today article has a nice summary of the results of that meeting, and notes that the industry had a very modest profit last year after losing money every year since 2001. But Airlines are not out of the economic woodshed yet as most carry huge debts.

Passport Rule Change for AIR Travel to Mexico, Canada, Carribbean.

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Passport rules have been relaxed for air travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. My understanding is that you can still travel to Canada and Mexico by sea or by car *without* a passport until January of 2008. However given the slowdowns, bottlenecks, and government confusion it’s a very good idea for anybody who thinks they might be heading out of the country over the next few years to …. get a passport. Go to the official US passport site HERE for more information about getting a passport.

From US Passport Official Website:

U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda who have applied for but not yet received passports can nevertheless temporarily enter and depart from the United States by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through September 30, 2007

Airport Security – cost effective?

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

A new “invisible fencing” system will help protect JFK and other New York Airports from Terror Attacks. USA Today has a report on Airport Security.

Here’s the Transportation Security Administration website which today is featuring more about the JFK Terror plot.

My view on the subject is different from most in that I’d argue we spend far too much on expensive measures trying to counter terrorism while failing to utilize many basic, cheaper approaches. Whenever the Government spends huge sums – in the case of TSA it will be *hundreds of billions* of dollars in the coming years, you must rationally look at alternatives to that spending to see what you could accomplish elsewhere. As with expensive military programs security is often a bad investment because even if it counters problems it does not add to existing infrastructure or enhance lives directly. Rather this money *protects* lives and infrastructure. Protection is important, but should be balanced against alternatives that would add to the life, liberty, and health equation. How many *extra* lives do you save with an extra $100,000,000,000 for TSA? The answer is unclear due to the potentially catastrophic nature of terror attacks, but it seems to me that we’ll break the bank with current approaches, so we should be finding ways to leverage cheap, automated surveillance, people databases, and other cost effective methods rather than hiring huge numbers of TSA screeners.

UK and Ireland Travel Tips

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Cheapflights UK has a nice series of travel tips for the UK and Ireland. Their list of travel tips is here.

One idea is to consider regional airports. Here’s their list for UK and Ireland Regionals with information at the links:

US Regional Airports can also be a good way to get closer to your destination. You’ll want to factor in several things when considering flying from/ to a regional airport rather than major ones:

* Generally, flying in and out of regionals is more expensive. There are exceptions however, and especially with pricing specials you won’t add much to the trip.

* Regional travel may subtract a car leg or add a flight leg. My personal preference is driving for a few hours rather than flying for one hour plus check in times, etc. I’ve seen people plan trips where they wind up flying very short distances and probably would have been happier and more comfortable driving a bit extra. On the other hand if flying to the regional airport costs the same and avoids a rental car or extra time you may save time and money. Some folks hate big city driving and Regional Airports can be a great way to avoid that when your destination is not a big city.

America’s Favorite 25 Cities from Travel and Leisure Magazine

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Travel and Leisure magazine has a travel contest where you can submit stories about travel adventures or experiences in what they list as America’s favorite 25 cities.

Umm…should Travel and Leisure apologize to Baltimore, Cleveland, Sacramento, etc? Not sure how they came up with these but it’s always fun to see places “ranked” as the top in the nation. Travel and Leisure Magazine’s cities are below. To participate and submit your city experiences click HERE .

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Honolulu
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Nashville
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Fe
  • Seattle
  • Washington, D.C.

Airline Tickets and Hotel Rooms – finding the lowest price.

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
Airlines Tickets and Hotels- finding the lowest prices

How to get low airline and hotel rates are the most common questions I get as a travel internet guy. The short answer is to check Hotwire.com and Kayak.com. If their price seems good take it, otherwise wait a week and try again. Note that with Hotwire you will NOT know the specific location. This is usually fine for most major destinations, and Hotwire generally features nice properties.

Many think wrongly that contacting a hotels or airline directly leads to the lowest price for a room or airline ticket. This is often NOT true, though you should generally view the hotel or airline’s own website for the rate because an increasing number of hotels are offering price guarantees if you book via their sites. Note that generally this creates a large savings for them because they don’t have to pay a commission. Unfortunately booking via the hotel sites rarely saves you more than a few dollars of savings vs the lowest online rates.

There is NO magic bullet or specific website or simple technique for finding cheap rates, rather you need to to surf around and look for “consolidators” that are *usually* cheaper than the hotels or airlines themselves.

Hotels.com is a large and popular consolidator, but Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline are also major consolidators and there are hundreds of smaller ones. In Europe, for example, any of those or Venere – a consolidator focused on European hotels – may find you a cheap room.

I have NOT used Priceline much recently because in the early days it was frustrating to work with and I found few rates that beat Hotels.com. My belief now is that Priceline is generally only a good choice for higher end hotels and then only if you have the time to search and wait for good rates and the flexibility to change hotels and plans as needed to get a good rate.

Kayak.com is an excellent service that allows you to search different airports and airlines quickly and easily. For example in June of 2006 I found Kayak’s American Airlines rate was lower than the airline and lower than all other consolidators. I’d guess Kayak had a special deal with American for this route.

Consider OneTime.com if you want to compare MANY different consolidators at once.

An example of the consolidator advantage: In early 2006 I used a small flight consolidator called cheapseats.com to book Delta to Boston and paid about $100 less than the cheapest fare Delta had online at the same time. This situation is common in travel because pricing is very market driven and surprisingly inconsistent both for flights and hotels.

As a travel publishing guy I know how some of the hotel deals are cut and it’s a very sloppy and counter-intuitive process where some consolidators will force properties to sell them blocks of rooms far below rack rate in exchange for a guarantee of selling those rooms. Hotels.com is notoriously unpopular with many hotels as the top consolidator because they tend to squeeze great deals from properties in exchange for guaranteed volume and lots of bookings. Good for you the consumer but hard on the profit margin for the properties.

If, at the last minute, the consolidator has a lot of rooms left they may sell them at rates far below what the hotel will charge if you call them. You especially see this in places like Vegas and big cities. During a November Vegas trip I got the Hilton through (Travelocity I think) for about $55 which I think was under their own website rate and under the rate at other places I checked. Yet during a March trip I found the best price for Oriental Palace at their own site – an excellent $65 nightly for a nice room in the middle of the strip plus some buffets. (though I did have to switch rooms due to noise from a room in the wing above Harrah’s, which features an outdoor rock music pavillion open until about 2pm).


Time and Distance Calculator

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Here at AirportCityCodes.com is my time and distance calculator using Airport Codes. This is helpful to get a sense of travel times for airline mileage programs and frequent flyer programs.

Other tools at AirportCityCodes.com allow you to airport information, airline phone numbers, book rooms or limos, etc.

Free cell phone parking lot (arrival waiting) coming to JFK

Friday, June 1st, 2007

This article is about an innovative JFK Airport plan to provide free parking to those waiting to pick up arriving passengers. Rather than circling the crowded arrival areas you’ll be able to park nearby at no charge and take the cell call from the arriving passenger when they have their bags and pick them up quickly and effectively.

This is a great innovation for any crowded airport, and as a travel tip don’t forget to use your cell phone to streamline the process of arriving at new destinations. By calling your friend/relative at home and keeping them posted about your airline reservations changes and scheduling you can often create a smooth pickup time even with a hectic schedule

Airbus 380. Now THAT’s an Airplane!

Friday, June 1st, 2007

The new Airbus A380 is the largest commercial passenger jet in the world, and it is BIG with 555 passenger seats compared to the 416 of a Boing 747. The Airbus is only about 5 feet longer than a 747 but the wingspan is much greater at about 250 feet, and the height is about 75 feet!

Today the first of what will be many flights landed in Paris, France.

Sign on San Diego has the maiden flight of the Airbus to Paris scoop.

Check out some Airbus A380 pictures here.