It’s about time these airlines finally do what southwest has done for years. Now let’s get rid of checked baggage fees!!
It’s about time these airlines finally do what southwest has done for years. Now let’s get rid of checked baggage fees!!
A few old favorites and new finds this trip. Catalina State Park did not disappoint. I never feel like I am really in Tucson without walking the Canyon Loop Trail, which this time had no water anywhere. Word has it, no rain since September. We had good street tacos at Seis Kitchen on River Road (al pastor and avocado good in particular).
I met my friend Mary across the street from the U of Arizona (Professor Mary) at The Dutch, where we ate salads and caught up at a pleasant outdoor table.
I dropped by two places I wanted to try last trip— Bon Boutique, (beautiful, pricey French housewares) and 5 Points Market and Restaurant, which had a funky coffee house vibe and what looked like excellent sandwiches and pastries. Next time (if there is one). I drove down nearby Convent Street to see some lovely revived, brightly painted adobe houses.
This was my first time renting from Advantage, which cost as much as the Arizona Shuttle round trip to Tucson. (And gas was cheap – $3.17 compared to $3.6 3 here.) I ordered a compact car and ended up with a minivan. Not the newest or cleanest but it drove fine. Now trying Frontier Airlines direct Phoenix to Des Moines. So far so good (which is more than I can say for the last flight I tried to take on Frontier). I bought water and a sandwich before boarding since there is no free anything on board. The seats are hard and thin with a tiny tray but not too cramped. I had to pay for my seat ($9, i.e. way in the rear) and carry-on bag ($35) but c’est la vie. I flew out on Southwest (which I prefer for many reasons to Frontier) — one of the first new direct Des Moines to Phoenix flights, on what seemed like a brand new plane!
We never really got clear information information from United about what was involved in flying their airline for two of our three flights to get to Lisbon from Des Moines and flying Air Canada the last leg, between Toronto and Lisbon.
They were fine with selling us the pricey plane tickets that included the Air Canada flight but seemed to know little about the particulars. (We even had to call Air Canada to book seats for the Toronto-Lisbon-Toronto flights. United wouldn’t do it.) So when we couldn’t get a clear answer about whether our bags could be checked straight through to Lisbon (or if we would have to pick them up in Toronto and transfer them to Air Canada,) we opted to carry on our luggage. (And had to surrender our Swiss Army knife in the process.)
We were glad to have our bags when our planned two-hour layover in Toronto outbound evaporated as we were sat on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare. At one point it looked like we would have to wait two hours to fly to Toronto (we didn’t find out until later that a storm had shut down the airport) but fortunately our delay ended up being one hour. We ran through the airport, went through some sort of expedited Canadian customs and easily made our 10 p.m. connecting flight. (Phew! If we had missed that flight we would have had to stay overnight in Toronto and wait until 4:30 pm for a flight to Newark and then get an 8 pm flight to Lisbon.)
It was Canadian travelers whom we met in Toronto outbound who told us that on our return trip we would be able to go through U.S. Customs in Toronto, before catching out next flight to Houston. This was a relief since we had a two-hour layover in Toronto but only an hour layover in Houston (which means we would probably miss our flight to Des Moines if we had to go through customs there). I couldn’t get anyone to confirm this from the airlines but it is in fact what happened. Phew!
meanwhile the air canada planes there and back were old and cramped with NO movie screens. The only option was to use our laptops (or rent one) and get movies via an airline app. Huh?
My stay in Chicago has unexpectedly been prolonged, thanks to intense rain that led my 10:15 p.m southwest flight home from midway to be delayed two hours. At which point I was able to reschedule my flight at no cost to tomorrow at noon. Thank you Southwest. (Apparently this is possible after your flight is delayed more than an hour.)
Meanwhile, we had a good day in Chicago yesterday starting with a great performance by Hubbard street dance at the Harris Theatre. After the matinee, my sister and I walked around the new parts of Millenium Park/grant Park including
the lovely prairie gardens of Lurie Park and the cool kids playgrounds and snaking ice rink at Maggie Daley park, although I gather locals were not pleased that old live trees were cut down to make way for the playgrounds, which oddly feature bizarre dead trees. We had an excellent dinner outside overlooking Michigan avenue at Acanto, a new restaurant owned by the same person in charge of The Gage, next door, (try the chicken piccata and the Bellini desert- a scoop of peach sorbet in a pool of prosecco.)
Today I went with my sister–in -law, a designer, to NeoCon, the enormous commercial interior design show at the Merchandise Mart; then I walked along the new Riverwalk east to Michigan avenue. Chicago, looking good. Now if only it would stop raining.
This from airfarewatchdog on cheaper flight options to london:
How to Save: The big trick that will help in 2014 is finding affordable airfare; other than accommodations, this is going to be your largest expense. With new low-cost transatlantic airlines like Norwegian and WOW promising to undercut major carriers’ prices in the coming year, it will likely be easier to pick up an affordable plane ticket to the British capital this spring and summer.
WOW Air, the new Icelandic low-fare airline, announced it would start flying between Boston and London/Gatwick this spring. Similar to Icelandair’s long-term flying pattern, flights will be via Reykjavik: leaving Boston in the evening and arriving in London the following morning, with the morning departure, afternoon arrival reverse pattern.
So far, WOW hasn’t announced anything about Iceland stopovers, but I’ll be very surprised if the line doesn’t offer stopover packages.
Flights will be in A320s, at a slightly below-average 30- to 31-inch pitch but average or better width. Although the airline is single class, you can reserve the extra-room exit-row seats and even guarantee an empty middle seat by paying extra.
Fares aren’t available yet, but the fare pattern will almost surely continue the carrier’s policy of offering very low fares to early buyers on at least some dates. Currently, for example, fares from London to Reykjavik are as low as £98 each way (about $157), including the onerous British passenger duty and a £6 “payment fee.” The only surprise is a very stiff charge of £19 for one checked bag.
Whether WOW flights will appeal to U.S. and Canadian travelers depends on one main factor: Will the fares be low enough to offset the increased flight time (compared to nonstops) and the hassle of an overnight stop? Back in the regulated days, low fares on Loftledir, the precursor to Icelandic, got a lot of budget travelers to accept those conditions, and many of them opted for a quick Iceland stopover. WOW seems to be hoping to replicate that formula.
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Okay, so I am not convinced my flights will go well at thanksgiving because, well, it’s thanksgiving. I have tried to reduce possible snafus by flying direct (a rare treat from Des Moines although it does require a 6 am flight to Newark on thanksgiving day for close to $500′ insane I know) and avoiding the wed and sun surrounding thanksgiving. Still I am holding onto some good tips from the November Conde Nast traveler on dealing with winter flight issues :
– best time to fly on …Presidents’ Day weekend, which is also valentines day. Book in early december.
– other cheap tome to fly to warm weather places? Dec 3 to 16 (you are close dad!) and mid jan.
– try alternate airports. Tampa or Fort Lauderdale rather than Miami or Orlando
– nope problems in the bud. Fly early am (I knew that one) and avoid landing between 7 and 10 in say, ohare(we learned that the hard way on our way home from Boston last month when we almost got stuck overnight in Chicago,.
– if you have to do a connecting flight (yes, alas. We do) stay away from ohare (knew that too but hard to avoid). Opt instead for Dallas or Houston (really?)
– if you can’t get a seat when you book your tix online, call the airline to get from a phone agent. Apparently it IS true that you are more likely to get bumped if you show up,at the gate without a seat.
– checking in early also decreases your chance of getting bumped.
– if bad weather on the horizon, find out if your flt is cancelled by checking airline website or twitter feed for updates. Soone r u know the better chances of getting rebooked. (I learned that last fall en route to New Orleans from Kansas City)
– Have a plan b. I was just telling this to my daughter. Know what flights are leaving after your scheduled connecting flight, in case you miss it. Although you may not find a seat. Before your flight check FlightStats.com, open “:delays” and then “global trends” which will show which airports and airlines are having the most cancelations and delays and which aren’t. Ask to be rerouted to a city that isn’t having problems. You can also sign up for A flight status alert with FlightStats.com
– cancelled flight? Fly thru Vegas if if not necessarily on your way…it has lots of flights and cheap hotels (I am flying southwest thru Vegas to LA next month!) so for example on stead of waiting for a Boston Seatte
flight, try thru Vegas. (I am flying next month to Seattle to midway to Des Moines…was acttually shorter flight time then thru Vegas.)
– know whet alternative flight you want when you can to rebook (been there, done that) use FlightStats.com again. Sign up for an account, click on flights, then flight availability, then advanced search, so you can specify airlines and city and seats.
– if airline phone is jammed, call the overseas reservation desk. Really???
You can get the phone number on your airlines web site and use Skype to call free. Wow (although I have had trouble finding airline numbers on the website)
So now I understand why my return flight from Prague to London on British Airways doesn’t include a seat assignment. Apparently I can only get a “free” seat assignment (for a very costly flight, I might add) 24 hours in advance. If I want one before that, I have to pay – and the fee isn’t listed up front. (I finally found it after searching for too long. It costs about $12, talk about nickle and dime-ing. For details see: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/paid-seating-terms/public/en_us- OR http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ba6.jsp/paid-seatingprime/public/en_us
That is really irritating!! I booked this flight via American Airlines – which I’m flying outbound from Chicago to London and on the return leg from London to Chicago (after I sit in a lousy seat I was assigned “for free” 24 hours in advance) apparently. American kindly granted me reserved seats – who knew this is now a perk???
I’m not sure what to make of the proposed American Airlines – U.S.Air merger – from what I gather it will further consolidate the airlines, leaving fewer options for travelers and the potential for higher prices. Then again, perhaps this is what both airlines needed in order to stay in business and I guess we consumers want that. Despite all the concerns about American of late, I’ve flown them recently and had no problems. (We’re flying American again next month from Des Moines to Phoenix.) I do have a bunch of free miles on American so will be looking to see if/how those are affected by the merger. And I do remember some initial operational glitches when United merged with Continental.
I paid $2.25 (the price of a bus ride) to get to Laguardia airport this afternoon which is much better than a $40 cab ride – not as fast of course, but not as long as I feared. It took me an hour – from the time I picked up the M60 bus at 106th and Broadway to my arrival at Laguardia’s Terminal C – and frankly seemed faster than the express bus I rode into the city (for $12.50).
I had a three hour layover in Minneapolis so of course my arrival and departing gates were minutes away from each other (as opposed to my outbound flight when I had 37 minutes to get from one end of the airport to the other.) Noticing that there was an earlier flight to Des Moines (at 7:15 vs. 9:30 p.m.) I went to the gate for the earlier flight to see if I could get on. There was room but Delta wanted to charge me $50 (which United wasn’t going to do when I tried to do the same thing a week ago in Boston). So I said no thanks but then the Delta person saw that my 9:30 flight was overbooked so she waived the $50 fee. So here I am home – although my bag won’t arrive until 11 p.m. So I guess it pays to ask and stand your ground….at least sometimes!