April 4, 2012

Jim’s Notebook

What the Airlines Are Up To Now … 50% Travel Savings Coming … A $39 Mini-cruise … Last-minute Deals to Europe on Lufthansa … Put a Shoe in the Hotel Safe …

JetBlue’s captain who had a breakdown in mid-flight last week grabbed all of the headlines (including the NY Post’s superb “This Is Your Captain Freaking”). But the real story about the airlines is how relentless they’ve been in going after our wallets. Did you know, by the way, that they’ve already raised ticket prices three times this year? (And had failed two other times). But there’s more…

For the past few months I’ve noticed it’s been hard to get a decent seat on several flights since so many are blocked as being unavailable. It seems I’m not the only one who’s taken notice. USA Today asked Are airlines withholding seats so you’ll pay a premium? after columnist Bill McGee could only find two adjacent seats available without paying a premium when he booked a flight a month in advance. When he boarded some weeks later he found 70% of the plane empty. Obviously some carriers are holding back seats in en effort to force us to pay a premium.

Delta, on the other hand, is testing a new bottom-level fare that won’t allow any changes, refunds or seat assignments. In other words they’ll just stick you wherever there’s room, which might not be such a bad thing for people who just want the cheapest seat possible. They’re testing the fare on routes from Detroit to Orlando, Ft. Myers, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa.

There are 50%+ travel savings coming if you’re fast. American Express and the US Travel Association are again offering Daily Getaways — limited-quantity travel offers available from April 9 through May 11, 2012 – which offer up to 50% off on some of America’s top travel brands. Amex cardholders get an additional 10% discount. You need to be really fast since these offers go really fast.

You’ll also need to move fast to grab one of the low fares Lufthansa is offering…Washington to Istanbul $655…NYC to Barcelona $763, or Dublin $657…Los Angeles to Milan $962…etc. You need to book by April 12 and travel April 9 to May 17. It’s a small window, but if you have itchy feet and the time it may be a good deal for you.

Holland America is offering a super-low rate of $39 (port taxes and fees are extra) for a one-night cruise from Vancouver to Seattle on a May 17th sailing. There are also some other cheap 3- and 4-night cruises May 8-13 from San Diego to Vancouver, says Frommer’s. And, speaking of cruising, Alaska and River Cruising are the top cruise trends for 2012.

Once you get to where you’re going you often need a hotel room. But have you ever considered putting one of your shoes in the hotel room safe? You may, after reading 25 Ways to Make Travel Easier, Starting With a Single Shoe in The Wall Street Journal.

Jim Ferri


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  1. says

    Your “Notebook” is the first thing I look for …. I was particularly intrigued by the allusion to airlines holding seats to generate a premium price ….

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