Archive for the ‘Airline Information’ Category

Why Can’t I Get The Fare For The Dates That I Want? A Guide To Purchasing Airline Tickets!

July 20, 2007

From my inbox,
“Dan, I live in New York and I always look forward to your fare postings.
My problem with your farecompare links is that most of the time the fare says sold out for the dates that I want. Can you explain to me this phenomenon?”

You’re in luck-there are 3 great deals out of NYC tonight!

Here’s some behind the scenes info.

Airlines publish airfares 3 times daily. From the time they are published it takes between 3-5 hours for it to reach all of the booking sites.
Often I post the deal soon after the fares are published-so they are not yet bookable.

Airlines have a very complicated system of class codes. In coach itself an airline can have 20 different fare codes. The price that I write about is the lowest published fare code-of which there are only so many available on any given flight.

When farecompare tells you “sold out” after you try to price out an itinerary that means that on at least one of your flights there are no more seats available in the low fare code.

Mind you, sometimes if you go directly to the airline’s website, it will actually have availability for the dates that you want even though farecompare said sold out!

I passed on the essence of your question to farecompare, and the CEO of farecompare, Rick Seaney, answered me that later this year they will roll out a new system that will actually tell you if the lowest published fare code is available on any given day, before you have to go and price out the Round-Trip ticket.

Until that point, there are a few other options.
One is to use’s flexible booking tool. Just type in your origin and destination and choose “dates flexible.” What comes back is a listing of the lowest published fares, separated by airline. By choosing a fare it will take you to a calandar, of which you choose your preferred dates. If the date you chose turns into an X, that means try again-the fare code is sold out for that date. Keep trying until it allows you to choose a return date and prices out the itinerary.

Travelocity however will only do this for a domestic flight. For an international flight, Zuji will give you the same functionality with the flexible search.

Other Booking Tips:
-Unless you require a highly complicated itinerary, it is almost always best to buy directly from the website of the airline that you are traveling on.

-If you do find a cheaper fare on a site like orbitz, be sure to take advantage of the airline’s price guarantee policies!

-Always search for 1 ticket, even if you are a larger party. Many times there will only be 1 seat in a lower fare code-but if you search for 2 seats it will sell you both of them at the higher fare code!

-Nearly all domestic fares that I post are valid in either direction.

-Take advantage of credit cards that give you 3-5% in cash rebates in addition to earning you miles. Examples are the Continental Mastercard for Continental tickets and the Delta business Amex, the Starwood business Amex, or the Jetblue business amex when flying Delta or Jetblue.

Have any more helpful tips? Please share them!

Questions, Suggestions, Errors? Please leave a comment!
Please do not post this article on any other website without explicit prior permission. Thank You!

HURRY! Zoom Airlines Inaugurates New JFK-London Service!

June 21, 2007

There are now 4 airlines specializing in the NYC-London market.
The previous 3 airlines, Silverjet, Maxjet, and EOS, offer a premium product. Zoom is the first discount carrier to specialize in the market.
If you only want to get to London, then you’re in luck!
The JFK-London flights in June/July are $76+$23 in taxes for a total of just $99!
Coming home however is about $300 after taxes…
Still a good deal for London travel during the high season!

An Introduction To Cathay Pacific Asia Miles-Part 1.

May 13, 2007

One of the numerous uses of starpoints is the ability to transfer points into airline miles at a 20,000 starpoints=25,000 miles rate.

Cathay Pacific is arguably the best airline in which to transfer points to.
Note that Cathay Pacific has no US based credit card, so the Starwood Amex is the absolute best method to earn Asia miles from credit card spending.

People have been asking for months to help clarify the highly complicated Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program, so here’s a start.

The confusion stems from the fact that the program is very different than normal US based mileage programs, but its primary value is owed to that uniqueness.

First of all, about the airline, Cathay Pacific.
-They operate with their hub in Hong Kong.
-They are part of the Oneworld (AA, BA, JAL, Qantas, etc.) Alliance.
-They consistently win awards for their top-notch business and first classes, and even economy is much better than US based airlines.

Cathay Pacific has 2 programs, the Marco Polo club and Asia miles.
Marco Polo club is only for recognition for frequent fliers. If you are just transferring starpoints you will never need to worry about the Marco Polo Club, so just ignore it.

US based mileage programs charge based on the country of flying. If you want to go from New York to Tel Aviv or Los Angeles to Tel Aviv on Continental it will be the same 70,000 miles in coach or 100,000 in business/first.
At the same token, Los Angeles to Hawaii and New York to Hawaii will always be 35,000 miles.

Asia Miles charges based on the distance of the flight. For regular mileage tickets there are 7 mileage zones.
Mileage Zone Chart Linky
Here’s how it works:
First go to the great circle mapper to research the one-way distance of a flight.
For example type in ORD-LHR(Chicago/O’ Hare-London/Heathrow) to discover that the distance is 3,953 miles, or that JFK-GRU(New York/JFK-Sao Paulo) is 4,745 miles.
Then plug the number into the Asia Miles award chart to discover that both of those distances will fall into Zone C.
While you use the one-way distance to figure out the zone, the miles shown is the price for a round-trip ticket in that zone.
So a round trip ORD-LHR on AA or British Airways or JFK-GRU on AA or JAL will be 45,000 in coach, 60,000 in business, and 90,000 in first.
These rates, especially for business class, are significantly less than if you have miles on AA, BA, or JAL.

Here’s where the program gets really bizarre:
Look at the distance from LAX-HNL(Los Angeles-Honolulu) and SFO-HNL(S. Fransisco-Honolulu).
Believe it or not, LAX is further from HNL than SFO is. 157 miles further to be precise.
Because of that very small difference though, SFO-HNL falls into Zone B, while LAX-HNL falls into Zone C!

To be continued…

Questions, Suggestions, Errors? Please leave a comment!
Please do not post this article on any other website without explicit prior permission. Thank You!

The Key To Being Able To Use Your Miles: Alliances!

May 9, 2007

The number one frustration with airline miles is that after you’ve racked up lots of miles on an airline, there are no cheap mileage awards available for when you want to go.

The problem stems from the fact that when looking for mileage tickets most websites don’t tell you that you have other airline alliance options.

The real solution that needs to be implemented is an alliance wide award search tool.

The only thing that I know of that currently comes close is ANA’s Star Alliance wide mileage search.

Until then you have a few work-arounds:
1. Call up each partner airline.
2. Join the mileage program of the partner airline that you wish to check and you’ll have online access to their inventory.
3. Call up the mileage desk of the airline that you have miles on and have them check alliance partner availability.(It’s extremely hard to find an agent who can competently check this)

Another caveat is that many airlines also have earning and redemption possibilities with airlines not in their alliance, so be sure to look up on each airline’s website to know what those are as well!

Below is a list of the 3 global alliances, and their primary members.

Star Alliance:
Air Canada
Air New Zealand
Lot Polish Airlines
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
TAP Portugal
United Airlines
US Airways

American Airlines
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
JAL-Japan Airlines
Royal Jordanian

Air France/KLM
Continental Airlines
Czech Airlines
Delta Airlines
Korean Air
Northwest Airlines

Ever Wonder About Where All The Airport Codes Come From And Stand For? Here’s A Neat Article!

May 7, 2007

Airport ABCs Linky