Quote of the Week

“It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.”  –Douglas Adams

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Quote of the Week 4, 5, and 6

OK so it seems I have missed three weeks of quotes *gasp*.  Sorry about that!  I”m making up for it by giving you 3 quotes all in one week!

The first is for Thanksgiving:

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  – John F. Kennedy

The second is for the holidays…tis the season of giving:

And the third is in honor of my recent trip to Maui, a proverb by the ancient Hawaiians:

“O ka makapo wale no ka mea hapapa i ka pouli.”

“Only the blind gropes in the darkness.” – If you have no direction in life, you are guaranteed to get there (nowhere)

You’re charging me WHAT for my flights?!

As a travel agent, I get asked all the time by clients, friends, and people in general to help them get better prices on their flights.  Most of the times they are asking about domestic flights.  Here are some pointers on which airlines to book through, the best day to book, etc.

The one airline I always recommend is Southwest.  Of course there are always pros and cons.  Most people either love Southwest or hate Southwest.  My personal opinion, I LOVE them.  The most important thing for me is great customer service, which Southwest has never disappointed me.  They have some of the most accommodating, upbeat, and sweetest attendants and customer service reps (in airport and on the phone).  I will pay extra for great customer service, whether it’s for travel, products, or service.  Although on Southwest, you don’t have to sacrifice price for great customer service.  Small business owners can delight in Southwest’s business friendly policies.  Below are the pros and cons.  Read on for other airlines and the best day to book…

Pros

  • No baggage fees.  Your first 2 bags are free of charge.  Yes there are weight restrictions, but this will save you at least $50.  Ladies, bring those extra outfits and shoes…and you can still go shopping.
  • No change fees.  If you haven’t seen Southwest’s commercials, most airlines (US Air, Continental, etc.) charge $100 – $150 if you need to change the dates of your flight.  A bunch of BS if you ask me, especially for business travelers.
  • Transferrable Tickets.  What does this mean?  Well let’s say you booked 8 staff members to fly down to Florida for a conference a month from now.  Two weeks before the trip, two of them resigned or were fired.  Now what?  On Southwest, you can use these tickets for your two new staff members; whereas on other airlines, you just lose your money.  Beware though; Southwest is planning to change this policy in 6 months.  So don’t book too early.
  • Better Rewards Program.  Personally I think their current program is much more simple and better than the new one they’re changing to in March of this year, but it still beats the other airlines.  Southwest rewards never expire.  That means no letters stating that your miles will expire unless you buy a magazine, transfer (at a fee), or donate your miles.  OK the donate part is good, but the rest is crap.  They also don’t have blackout dates.  If there’s a seat available on the flight, you can use your points (they don’t go by miles) for it.  Now there’s a concept!  If you want to know more details about this, go to their website .
  • Bigger & better seats.  Unless you fly first class most times, you’ll be happy with Southwest’s seats.  They’re all leather seats, and for a clean freak like me that is heaven.  Who knows what’s on those fabric seats…lice, bacteria…yuck!  Sometimes they’re itchy too.  Leg space is also more compared to most US Air, Delta, and Continental domestic flights.  Trust me.  I’ve been on all of them plus some!

 Cons

  • No seat assignment.  Huh?  Yuppers, Southwest has no seat assignments.  “First come, first serve.”  It’s actually first to check-in, first serve.  Like most airlines, you can check-in for your boarding pass 24 hours prior.  You will get a boarding pass with a letter (A, B, or C) and a number (1-60).  You want to be in the lower letter (A) and the lower number (15).  A1-15 is reserved for “business” (most expensive) fares.  The earlier you check-in, the lower your letter and number.  This letter and number tells you when you can board.  Group A boards first, B second and C last.  You can choose whatever seat you please.  Please know this so you don’t aggravate regular Southwest flyers like me!
  • No meals, just snacks.  The good news is you don’t have to pay for snacks or drinks, except for alcoholic beverages.  The bad news is you don’t have a choice to buy a meal.  So make sure you bring a meal onboard if you’re flying during lunch or dinner time.  The snacks, for the most part, are unlimited and free.  Most alcoholic (or energy) drinks can be paid with a drink coupon, which comes free with a “business” fare.  If you’re lucky, you get to sit next to someone like me who always has free drink coupons on hand (I don’t drink alcohol).

 

OK so what are the other airlines I recommend?  The next best are Virgin America and Jet Blue; followed by US Air, AirTran, and Delta; then United, American, and Continental.  The above is based on customer service records of travelers’ and my own experiences.  There are other domestic airlines, but I just mention the main ones.  Please keep in mind that Delta and Continental is a more upscale airline compared to US Air, United, American, and AirTran.  I always recommend using Kayak when shopping for domestic airfare, and using a travel agent for international airfare.  Most travel agents won’t touch domestic airfare, unless they’re in corporate or group travel.

Sign up for the rewards program.  Whether you’re an avid flyer or a random one, sign up for the rewards program.  There’s always some type of reward or offer you can use from them, no matter now menial.  At the least, you can always donate your rewards.  It’s always appreciated, and it doesn’t cost you a thing.  Just beware of spamming.  Make sure you set up your email preference to receive only what you want, such as award notifications and nothing more.

The best day to book airfare is TUESDAY evening.  Airlines tend to release fare sales on Tuesday mornings.  If other airlines want to match the price, it’ll be available by Tuesday evening.  On Southwest, you can easily change a previously booked airfare to the lower rate without penalties.  Tonight I saved $50 on a Southwest flight I booked last week, and it’s not the first time I’ve saved.  You can also try calling the 800 number if you have booked on another airline.  It helps if you’re part of their rewards program, be nice, and ask for a manager.  Finally, try not to book on Saturday and Sunday.  Airlines tend to raise fares on the weekends, when most people have time to book and make travel plans.

I’ll post tips on hotels, packages, and other travels at a later time.  I hope this helps and saves you money.  Bon Voyage!