Friday, October 31, 2008

Alternate Airports

Many metro areas have a major airport and one or more smaller airports. Fares to those smaller airports may be lower than fares to the major airport.

Check for
alternate airports on both ends of the trip. You may have a choice of airports to start your trip (from home) but there may also be alternate airports at the destination.

Alternate airports are usually smaller airports.
Smaller airports are less stressful and often more convenient to the true destination.

Some major airports and their alternates include:

* Los Angeles (
Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario, Orange County)
* San Francisco (Oakland, San Jose)
* Miami (Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach)
* Boston (Manchester, Hartford, Providence)

A complete list can be found at:

Flying into Long Beach, instead of Los Angeles, for instance, places you closer to
Disneyland, downtown, and many beaches. Retrieving your baggage, renting a car, and exiting the airport are much quicker in Long Beach than Los Angeles. Even if the fare to Long Beach was a little higher than to Los Angeles, if would be a more pleasant experience (less stress, more convenient). The beauty, though, is that many fares are the same or less, especially on jetBlue routes.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Split Tickets, Part 2

Split ticketing is a powerful and exciting strategy that will allow you to save money, fly on preferred airlines, and create stopovers. Here are some suggestions for utilizing this air ticketing ploy.

Check for flights to South America and Central America through Miami, Los Angeles, or New York.

Flights to Asia and Australia through Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Flights to Hawaii through Los Angeles airports (check them all), San Francisco (Oakland and San Jose also), Seattle, and Las Vegas.

Flights to Europe through New York.

Always check around for the cheapest fares from other cities. There may be incredible fares between Chicago and South America or Atlanta and Hawaii. You really never know. Two good sources are and Kayak's Buzz feature.

Happy hunting!

© 2008, Charles McCool

Split Tickets

"Can you really do that?"

In my
travel classes, I hear that often from the students. One of my favorite ploys is to find two separate round-trip tickets for a flight that requires a connection anyway. Not only can you save money, but you can choose to fly on airlines you want and you can create your own stopover. What does all that mean?

First, you might be able to save significant money. Fares between the US East coast and Australia are usually at least $1,200 ($1,050 right now). I was lucky enough to find a fare last week between Los Angeles and
Sydney (or Brisbane) for $500 (on Virgin America). Combine that with a $200 fare between the East coast and Los Angeles, and I will save $300 to $500. A specific example is Nashville to Lome (Togo, Africa). That fare is $2,700 but splitting fares through Europe (Frankfurt, Paris, London, etc.) will save $1,200.

Second, you can choose the airlines. Only one airline at the moment has fares under $1,500 between
Washington-Dulles and Australia. However, many airlines fly between Dulles and Los Angeles. Many others fly between Los Angeles and Sydney. I might as well pick airlines that I want to fly on instead of the only one offering a full round-trip between Dulles and Australia.

Third, you can make your own stopovers. In other words, you can have tow (or three or more) vacations during the same trip. If I bought the only sub-$1,500 fare between Dulles and Sydney, that airline would not allow me to stopover in Los Angeles; I would have to take the next connecting flight. By buying separate tickets, I can choose how long to stay in Los Angeles before flying on to Australia. It is even possible to get really clever and arrange the two round trips so that stopovers can be made in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and perhaps even

© 2008, Charles McCool

One Way Flights

"I did not know you could do that", someone said when I told them that I bought one way tickets for a recent trip.

Why would I buy one way tickets? Why should you consider them? The simple answer is that you can potentially save lots of money or find more convenient flights.

Sometimes, a round trip flight is more expensive than it should be because one the flights (outbound or return) has fewer available seats. For example, your outbound flight is as cheap as it can be but the return flight is $100 higher. In this case, buy your outbound flight as a one way ticket and look for a return flight on another airline for $100 less.

How do I do that?

Kayak, click the "One-way" button and search each date. On Orbitz, click the "One-way" underlined option. It is that simple with other booking engines, too.

There are other times to look for one way flights.

* Buying a one way flight allows you to drive or take a train in one direction (or take a "permanent vacation").

* Buying one way flights lets you use different airports. Instead of a simple round trip between two cities, let's say you will fly from New York to Los Angeles, drive up highway 1, and fly back from San Francisco.

* For long trips (like a summer in Europe), buy two one way tickets instead of a round trip ticket, since most round trips require a return within 30 days.* One way flights may be more convenient with the routings (nonstop or better connection airport), days and times, or whatever (preferred airline, frequent flyer bonus, to fly with family/friends).

Fortunately, one way flights are easy to find, as the legacy carriers must offer them to compete with smaller airlines (like Southwest and jetBlue). Finding one way car rentals can be a challenge but that is another skill for another time.

By the way, my recent one way flights were Baltimore to Seattle and Calgary to Washington-Dulles. That shows you can get creative with your routings to have wonderful trips.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Myth #1: Lowest Airfare Can Always be Found at {fill in the blank}

I was getting ready to give a talk at the Baltimore Travel Expo, when someone came up and said she did not need to attend because she always finds the lowest airfare on XYZ. XYZ could have been Travelocity or Kayak or any booking engine; it could also be through a certain travel agent, airline, or other source. People continually tell me that their source always gives them the lowest airfare. The fact is that no one source always has the lowest airfares, just as one particular store does not always have the lowest filet mignon prices.

For that particular person at that travel show, I spent less than a minute proving I could have found a lower airfare. She paid $800 for her previous flight and I quickly showed her I could have bought it for $400. She stayed for the presentation.

There is no secret. There is no one source that always has the lowest airfare (or best car rental rate, hotel price, etc). In the upcoming posts in this blog, I will explain different travel skills to use that will allow you to save money, time, and stress on all aspects of travel (not just air travel).

© 2008, Charles McCool