Archive for July, 2007

Cheap Airline Booking Tips revisited

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Via Jason Calcanis I just found a very thoughtful article by Nicole over at Mahalo with tips to booking cheap airline tickets.

Unless you have a *lot more* time on your hands than I do I think some of these suggestions are basically overkill (priceline and following prices after you book) but she’s making several great key points including how important it is to be flexible and to use comparison tools like Orbitz, Y ahoo FareChase, or Kayak.

Here is Nicole’s Cheap Airline Ticket article.

I think doing some diligent comparisons on Kayak over a few weeks will usually get you similar results for Airlines in USA. Overseas is much more complex because consolidators can be much cheaper – seek them out for expensive flights.

There is no magic formula – just keep on trucking and you’ll find cheap stuff, though not always online.

Transportation Security Administration TSA

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

This is an OLD post.  For the latest on TSA Requirements CLICK HERE for TSA Travel Information

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The TSA here in the USA has a very big job. They are charged with protecting the millions of travelers who travel daily in, out, and around the country.

All travelers should spend at least a few minutes getting familiar with security basics here at the TSA “for travelers” web page here. Most important is managing your liquids, toothpaste and other gels using the 3-1-1 rule.

Overall the TSA website suffers from the typical bureaucratic challenges of telling people much more than they need or want to know about the organization while leaving key details about travel too thinly discussed. TSA is a place where it would be very advantageous to have a blog team with access to up to the minute information about delays, lines, airport and airline security information and then post up to the minute on their blog to help travelers with access get around.

An example of “travel inefficiencies” that create lose-lose situations came up Thursday on our trip home from PHL Philadelphia. We wanted to visit the shopping/dining section of PHL because we had several hours to kill, but because of the odd setup at PHL this would have required us to either stand in a HUGE line for D concourse and then find a way to C concourse vs walking in to E (with no line!) which was where we needed to be to leave. I’m sure if I knew the place inside out I could have used the bus system more effectively, but given that PHL so heavily promotes the shopping and dining area you’d think they’d arrange things such that you could easily hang out there without worrying about missing a flight. The discrepancy in line length was odd as well and I’ve seen this very often. TSA seems to use humans where machines would be better and perhaps vica versa. As Thomas Edison pointed out — there is a better way – find it (please…!).

Yahoo FareChase offers good comparisons

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I’m more familiar with Kayak.com and Orbitz.com for comparison hotel and airline ticket shopping but it looks like Yahoo’s FareChase offers a similar good selection of prices. That said it’s becoming harder to find *the best* price because it may not be online. For example during out recent East coast trip the best prices *by far* were from RoomSaver Coupon books. Our Days Inn in Gettysburg, one of the finest “modest price” hotels you’ll find in the USA – The Gettysburg Days has been Days Inn was Days “Hotel of the Year” several times running – had an online rate of 141. Coupon Book rate was $49.00. The books may not help you on weekends but your chances of finding vacancies at a coupon book property M-R are good. They tend to be chains at tourism hotspots and interstate intersections.

Airline Complaints up for UK Airlines

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

The Times of London is reporting that complaints are up for UK Airlines. These complaints often reflect customer demands for payment for expenses like food and lodging that happen when flights are delayed. It appears that above normal fog levels at Heathrow Airport may have caused some of this increase.

I’m not very sympathetic to those who feel that the Airlines are not coming through appropriately given the current sets of global circumstances. Many Airlines are now operating in near-bankrupcy status. My experiences with bumps and delays usually result in “above reasonable” compensation by the airlines such as full tickets for single flight bumps and free meals and lodging when flights are missed. We missed a flight on a trip to Hawaii in 2005 – partly due to our own fault – and we were immediately re-routed at no charge so we got in same day. United acted above and beyond and I appreciated this effort. My dad was flying on 9/11/2001 and had the cost of his ticket refunded even though he chose to drive home rather than take the delayed flight (this was also United).

Why do we hold the Airlines to a higher standard than other service providers?

Indianapolis Airport Improvements underway

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Major improvements are underway in Indianapolis where a new billion dollar passenger terminal is bringing new hotels and other development to the airport neighborhood of Indianapolis.

The IndyStar reports that Airport officials hope the new Indianapolis Airport will encourage more international travel to and from the region. Also, a new “Civic Plaza” in the Indy Airport will be outside of security and allow non-passengers to shop and dine in what officials hope will become a powerful Indianapolis gathering place for travelers and non-travelers alike.

4.4 Billion air trips in 2006 is a new record

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Worldhum, via a Reuters report, notes that China travel is increasing the number of airplane trips per year dramatically. 4.4 billion air passengers flew in 2006, approaching an average of a trip per year per person on earch. Worldhum also notes that China is poised to become the world’s top tourism destination by 2014.

I’m big on China, though I hope they see the light soon and work harder to resolve the evil conflicts in Darfur which continue to ravage thousands there every day. A recent movement to boycott the Beijing Olympics is gaining steam and may impact the Olympics very negatively if China does not act more assertively with the Sudanese Government to stop Sudan’s attrocities against the people in Darfur.

PHL Philadelphia International Airport

Friday, July 13th, 2007

PHL Philadelphia serves the great Philadelphia area. There’s good information at the Philadelphia Airport website although some of it is buried or dead ends you at thin pages.

Terminal Maps
Parking and driving
Transportation
Flights
Food, Shopping

Note that you can use SEPTA High Speed rail to get from the airport to the downtown historic district (this is Philadelphia’s biggest attraction – the square mile of American History in the old city district. Independence National Historic Park is here with the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s House, and much more. Allow at least two days to explore the history and great dining of Philadelphia’s historic district.

The Convention Center is located about 5 blocks from the Historic area and is an easy walk.

National Park Service Philadelphia Informaiton

Seat Guru provides great airline seat info and diagrams

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

SeatGuru.com is a simple and clever site that provides seat information for most of the aircraft on almost all the major airlines. Clicking your airline and then the type of plane you’ll be on will get you detailed diagrams showing “good” seats and other important information.

Many airlines now allow you to select seats and print boarding passes online, and this is a great way to take care of business before you get to the airports. Preprinted boarding passes often get you to the gate much faster if you have only carry on luggage. When I’m travelling alone I tend to pack light and just lug my luggage around to avoid the hassle and delays of checking my bags. I can then print up my pass and avoid the ticketing lines and head straight for the gate.

With the family this does not seem to be worth the trouble of keeping track of all the bags during flight transfers so we generally print the boarding passes but then check the luggage at the airport.

Las Vegas Airport – LAS

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airportis the key gateway to the city of Las Vegas, one of the world’s top travel destinations. For more about travel in the city of Las VegasThe McCarran website is a fairly good one as Airport websites go with a fairly simple layout, but is burdened by an odd navigation scheme. Here are some links to relevant travel information at the Las Vegas Airport website “McCarran.com”

Airport Guide

Ground Transportation

Dining Guide – McCarran Airport


Flight Information
(usually best to go directly to your Airline website for specific Airline and flight info)

Click here for more information about Las Vegas Travel

Vancouver Airport Relaxation Tips

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Vancouver, B.C. is a gateway city to some of the most spectacular coast and mountain scenery in the world. Arlene over at About.com has some great tips about relaxing at the Vancouver Airport, including spas and a film screeening room.

Vancouver B.C. Tourism

British Columbia Travel