Trip Coach: Nov. 22, 2005
Hugo Burge of Cheapflights.com answered your travel questions
Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Hello. I am now ready to answer your questions, so do send them on in. I am rolling up my sleeves (literally) and am ready to get on with it...
The Woodlands, Tx: Are there any companies that offer discounted domestic first class air travel? We are retired and can travel at any time.
Origin - Houston TX
Destinations - Southern California and Chicago
Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Flexibility is the key to cheap air travel, so you must take advantage of your retirement! Indeed, there are discounters who provide bargain first class air ticket. The ones that come to mind are 1st Air Net and Access Fares which you can find listed on Cheapflights.com. It is also worth remembering that Air Tran and America West offer discounted business class domestic fares. In fact, I recently took an Air Tran flight where the business class flight (admittedly indirect) was cheaper than a direct flight on a traditional carrier!
Santa Cruz, CA: My friend and are planning a trip to Kona, HI in April, 2006. We plan to go 4/6/06 with a return on either 4/15 or 4/16/06. We can fly out of either San Jose Int. or San Francisco Int. Our dilemma: He has UA frequent flyer miles to use for his airfare; I don't. But, the published rates now (Nov. 05) for our dates in April are really, really high, cheapest in the $800 range roundtrip. Since he's using miles, he needs to book asap. We'd like to fly together, but I'm stumped with paying such a high fare this far in advance. I've travelled to the Hawaiian islands many times over the years, and have on average always paid about $400 for my airfare. Realistically, how far in advance should I think about booking my flights? We plan to arrange for rental car and accomodation there too, but right now the airfare is the issue. Packages seem to be cheaper, but how could we work around his "free" ticket?
Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: What a classic travel dilemma but I think I can help.
My first tactic would be to say that his trip is free so that he should pay for you! (Joking). You need to be clear, if he makes a booking and you do not yet have one then it could be risky, so you may feel better if you can book your flights at the same time. So my advice is on the basis of getting a good deal right now and not waiting till the last minute.
The first thing to note is that you may not want to fly together in order to get a good deal. I realize that this may not sound attractive until you think about how much money you could save and then have more fun on holiday together.
The most important thing to do is to shop around and I think the secret on this one is to include companies that will include cheaper charter flights with companies like Sun Trips & Pleasant Holidays, which a colleague tells me have flights out of Oakland.
The idea of getting a package would be an additional way of getting a deal and I think you could pay for an all in package for you but explain that you will be joined by someone who does not want a flight segment.
With Charter flights you can get amazing last minute deals but as you need to book now, the sooner the better because generally the earlier you book the better the deal...
New York City: I'm heading for a cruise that starts in Europe but end back here in NYC. How can I get the most reasonable one way fare over to Europe since I, obviously, don't need round trip air?
Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: Ah. Well I did this myself just the other day. Sometimes a specialist can get you a cheaper one way fare than just purchasing from the airline. Give those kind folks at 1800 Fly Europe a bell and they should sort you out with a one way fare.
Rockford, IL: Is it better to travel with a group tour when going to foreign countries or is it more reasonable to do it online. I have used Globas tours and am thinking of going back to Northern Italy in 2006. What time of year is best so it is warm yet?
Hugo Burge, Cheapflights.com: There is no right answer but this is really a personal decision. Here is an overview: A group tour can offer benefits such as a more stress free vacation (you just hop along and don't have to organize stuff) and sometimes you can get a great deal too (group discounts and by packaging your hotels + flights).
However, I usually find it cheaper and more enjoyable to travel independently. My personal tactic is to buy the flight as soon as possible but then go for hotels on the day and get a bargain... Northern Italy is great so you should have a fun trip whatever. I love traveling in Europe, as a rule, in Sept/ Oct when the crowds have gone and it is warm but not so hot as peak summer. It also makes for better light when taking photos and when in Italy you want to come back with some nice photos to show all the folks back home!