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When A Good Air Fare Deal is Not A Good Deal

Posted by thetraveldoctor on May 16, 2012


Southern California

Out of the Window of a Southwest 737 over Southern California

You see an ad for low low airfares. You log on to the Airline web site and find that the deal you saw advertised is not what you thought. It happens more then you want to admit. So how do you really get a low fare that really is a good value? You need to do your homework and compare fares on different airlines. Bing fare search engine is a great place to start. It will give you the lowest fares to your destination on multiple airlines, but if you want to compare the results to Southwest, you will need to go on to the Southwest web site as Southwest only lists their fares on their own web site.

Remember when you compare your fares you have to take into account the “Extra Fees” imposed by the airlines. These extra fees include checked bags, on board meals, pre reserved seats and so on. Airlines make millions of dollars every year on these fees. What once was included with your ticket is no an “EXTRA” cost item. One of the few airlines that does not charge for bags or food on their aircraft is Southwest. So before you book your ticket, add up all the “Extras” and then make your decission. You will save time and money in the long run.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Credit Cards, luggage, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

AA Ups the Fees To Reserve A Window or Aisle Seat

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 30, 2011


American Airlines with seats to sell

American to charge extra for Window & Aisle seats

Just when you think the airlines can’t think of anything else to charge you for AA finds a new twist! Yes that’s right, AA introduced a new “Preferred Seats” charge. So if you want a window or aisle seat toward the front of the economy section you are going to have to anti up more cash. It’s now not good enough that you paid $300 for the air ticket, now they want you to pay a fee to sit down!  These “Preferred Seats” will begin at $4 per flight segment and will vary based on length of flight and time of day. So if you take a prime time flight from let’s say Chicago to Los Angeles, you could pay $15 or more for a window or aisle seat. Talk about a rip off!

I don’t understand what these airlines are thinking. They are nickeling the public to death. I don’t know where it will stop. The next charge will be $25 to get off the airplane and $10 if you want to stand the entire way.

Keep up the good work American. You should win an award for the worst customer service. Your matto should be “We’re not happy until your unhappy!”

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Southwest Vacations Hassle

Posted by thetraveldoctor on March 9, 2010


Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Al and Lil at Universal Studios New Years Day 2010

Just returned from a very cold trip to Orlando Florida. My wife and I took a Southwest Vacations package to Orlando at the Doubletree Universal. I love to fly Southwest Airlines as their crew, planes and gate areas are the best in the business.

I decided to use Southwest Vacations because the package of Hotel, Car and Flight were much less expensive then booking each component separately. I knew that something was not right when I tried to lookup my flight to put my rapid reward number in the record and the Southwest website told me it could not find my reservation. Now to be fair to Southwest Airlines, Southwest Vacations is run by the Mark Travel Corp, which owns Funjet Vacations and a number of other airline tour companies. The big problem is that Southwest Vacations issues paper tickets. I cannot tell you the last time I used a paper ticket on a domestic flight. Paper tickets are a hassle and they can be lost or stolen. Well, what Southwest Vacations does not tell you is that you cannot check in on line ahead of time, you can only get a “Security Document” that will get you through the security checkpoint, but you still have to stand in line to get a boarding pass. Plus, you cannot get this Security Document on the Southwest Airlines website, you have to go to the Southwest Vacations website, which is a completely different website. So once I figured this out, I tried to check in, as the website said, “Check in Online” which is really not correct. After jumping through a number of hoops, I was able to print out the “Security Documents”. It was a real hassle at Midway Airport in Chicago, but we got to the gate and I was able to stand in line and get a real boarding pass. The disaster was on the return trip.

It’s January 3, 2010 at 500AM. My wife and I had a 735AM Southwest flight from Orlando to Chicago Midway. I could not check in on line at my Orlando hotel because as you read earlier in this store, you can’t do that with paper tickets. We walk into the front door of the Orlando airport and look over at the Southwest Check In. To our surprise, there is a line that looks to be at least an hour and a half. Now we had only carry on luggage, so I asked the Southwest agent if we had to stand in line, she told me “know, just go to the self serve kiosk and check in. Well, you guessed it, it would not let me check in. So I ask the Southwest agent for help. She came over to the kiosk and tried 3 times to check us in. It just would not work. She said to me, “Why don’t you go out to the skycap and let him check you in.” I said “That is a great idea, thank you!” So I went outside to the skycap station. Well, there was a line there too, albeit a much shorter line (15 min instead of 1.5 hours) and the skycap then checked me in and we were on our way to the gate. Getting to the gate was a whole other story, as Orlando shut down the screening area for about 45 minutes but I will not bore you with the details. We did get home on our scheduled flight. I still love Southwest, but the vacation division has to allow the issue of etickets so passengers don’t run into the kind of problems we had.

Thinking of a cruise? Read my blog post on the new Oasis of The Seas at http://thetraveldoctor.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/oasis-of-the-seas-makes-some-last-minute-changes/

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Hotels, luggage, news, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

CSI The Experience Lands at MGM in Las Vegas

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 22, 2009


MGM Hotel in Las Vegas

MGM Hotel in Las Vegas

“CSI: The Experience” which has been touring the country has found a permanent home at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas. This new attraction will give visitors the chance to be part of the CSI phenomenon. Guest will be able to survey their own crime scene, analyze evidence and crack the case. The experience starts at one of three crime scenes. After exiting the crime scene, the guests will head to the crime lab with their list of evidence and begin to piece together the mystery.

This is the first permanent exhibit for CSI, which has been touring the country for the past 2 years.

Rather than a “look-and-see” exhibit, this one lets visitors control the action. The interactive nature of the program and the technology are what sets “CSI: The Experience” apart from other museum exhibits

“CSI: The Experience” will be open to its first visitors starting at 10 a.m. Sunday September 13. The exhibit will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with tickets priced at $30.

Posted in airlines, bags, car, duce, economy, first class, free, Hotels, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip, luggage, restaurant, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

United Airlines Needs Customer Service Lessons

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 20, 2009


United Terminal at O'Hare

United Terminal at O'Hare

This has got to be the height of how not to treat a customer. My daughters Mother-in-law purchased 2 round trip tickets for my daughter and her husband for their honeymoon. They were headed to Rome, Italy from Chicago. The best fare and connections were through Toronto on Air Canada. The entire itinerary was on Air Canada except for the first leg of the trip which was from Chicago to Toronto. This leg was a code share flight with United Airlines. That means that United Airlines operated the flight, but the ticket showed an Air Canada flight number but also said “Flight Operated by United Airlines.”

The tickets were purchased about 4 months ago. During that time, United Airlines had a major schedule change and canceled a large number of flights. One of those flights  was the Air Canada code share flight that my kids were on. Now you would think that United would have let us know that the flight was canceled. That would have been the proper thing to do, but remember, this is United, an Airline that does not know what the words “Customer Service” means.

So let’s jump ahead to the night before the flight. I ask my daughter what the flight number was so I can check the times and maybe even get them checked in and get a boarding pass. She gives me her itinerary and I proceeded to look up her flights, but I could not find her first flight number. So I checked all the flight from Chicago to Toronto and I found that her flight did not exist anymore. So I tried to check her in on the United website. But it was not able to check them in as the website said that they did not have a flight from Chicago to Toronto. Now I am really worried. So we call Air Canada. They tell me that they have rebooked them on a United flight to Toronto at 110PM. So I felt a little better, but I still didn’t trust United. So I  called United Airlines Reservations. By the time we got to a real person I was very nervous. I gave the United reservation agent the reservation number and I was told the flight was an Air Canada flight. I told the agent, “No it is your flight, because it is a 737 aircraft and Air Canada does not have any 737’s. The agents argued with me for a few minutes, but then agreed with me that it was a United flight. I hung up, but I still was not feeling very good about this, as it was still not showing the flight correctly in the United reservation system.

The No Customer Service Gate Check In

The No Customer Service Gate Check In

Fast forward to the next day. My kids arrive at O’Hare Airport at 11AM for the 1;10PM Flight. They get in the International check in line and they wait, and wait and wait. After 50 minutes in line, they get to the kiosk and try to check in. But my fears come true and it will not let them check in. It says on the screen “Cannot complete check in, Please see agent.” So they turn around and grab an agent and she tells them they have to go and stand in yet another line to see an agent. They have now been at the airport for 1 hour trying to check in. The next line has at least 40 people in it and only one agent working the line. It takes them 40 minutes to get to the agent. Once they get to the agent, they are told  by the agent “You are too late, I cannot check you in, there is only 20 minutes before flight time. Go to Air Canada, it’s their ticket.” Can you believe that! And she was rude on top of it. They told her that they have been waiting almost 2 hours in LINE! There was no response from the agent. So they gathered up their luggage and  walked from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, which is a long haul.

The Air Canada Agent they finally checked in with could not have been nicer to my Daughter and Son In Law. She could not believe that United treated them so poorly. She apologized and booked them on an Air Canada flight at 2PM and up graded them to First Class. This is the sign of a Class Airline. United can learn a lot about customer service from the Ticket Agent at Air Canada. Because if you don’t treat your customers with respect, then you won’t have any customers. And if you don’t have any customers, you won’t have an airline. Just some food for thought United!

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Grand Hyatt NY Gets An “F” For Accommodations!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on June 6, 2009


 

Grand Hyatt Hotel New York City

Grand Hyatt Hotel New York City

I just returned from a business trip to New York where I gave a presentation to a group of travel industry professionals. The conference went well, but that is not my reason for writing this. The problem was with the Hotel.

The conference hotel was the Grand Hyatt in New York City. This is a very large business hotel located right next to Grand Central Station on 42nd street. I was excited about staying at the hotel as I really enjoy the Hyatt brand. 

 

I arrived at 1250AM in stead of 1030PM as my flight was late from Chicago due to weather in the New York area. So I am now very tired, somewhat wet as it has been pouring rain for the entire trip from Newark Airport to the Grand Hyatt Hotel and I had to wade through the rain to get to the Super Shuttle Bus. I walk into the lobby of the Grand Hyatt and proceed to the Registration Desk. Now remember it is 1250AM on Thursday morning and there are at least 12 people waiting in line to check in. Now that would not be so bad, but there is only one desk clerk handling the check in and to add insult to injury, there are approximately 15 self service check-in kiosk that all say “OUT OF SERVICE – SEE DESK CLERK TO CHECK IN.” So now I am very tired, I have a bad headache and I am standing in a line that is not moving at all. 

 

20 minutes later I make it up to the desk clerk. I give him my name and my reservation number. He types it into the computer and then I see that look on his face that I have seen to many times before. You know the look of bad news at 115 in the morning. So he tells me that the room I reserved was not available. My heart dropped! I said you have to give me a room. He tells me that he has a queen size smoking room. I said to myself, “how bad could a smoking room be?” So I say to the desk clerk, I just need a room to sleep in, I will take the room. 

 

So he gives me the key card and I proceed to the 15th floor room I was assigned. I get to the room and open the door and walk in and then it hit me. This room REAKED of smoke! Oh did it stink, it just knocked you over. It smelled like someone chain smoked no-stop for a week! But again, I was so tired and I had this terrible headache and I just needed so sleep. So I climbed into the bed and fell asleep. 

 

When I woke up, I really look around the room for the first time. The window shade was all stained and looked as if someone threw a cup of coffee on it. The lights on the night stands did not work properly. The Desk lamp shade was broken and had a hole in it.  There was a floor lamp that was leaning over like someone bent the base.  And the final straw, the wifi in the room did not work.

 

I walked into the bathroom to take a shower. The bathroom look pretty good, so I get into the shower, close the curtain and turned on the water. I adjusted the temperature and then the tub started to fill up. Ok, so the drain was running slow. I hit the shower button and the shower turned on. It started to spray nicely around the curtain and on to the floor. I could not get a good flow onto me, but it did a great job of making a puddle on the floor of the bathroom, which I could not stop.

 

I was really frustrated by this time. I got out of the shower and threw two towels on the floor to soak up the water. I then dried myself off with a third towel, at least they gave me 4 towels and they were not the usual fluffy Hyatt towels, they were very scratchy and thin towels.

 

The service was just fair throughout the hotel. The public areas were very nice, but the service was poor at best. I stay in lots of hotel rooms during the year and this was a stay that I want to forget. I cannot recommend the Grand Hyatt in New York until they do something to improve the quality control of the rooms and the attitude of the staff.

Posted in bags, Credit Cards, economy, first class, food, Hotels, luggage, lunch, news, options, PC, pillows, restaurant, seniors, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ryanair To Consider “Pay To Pee”

Posted by thetraveldoctor on March 6, 2009


 

Ryanair on Take Off

Ryanair on Take Off

Ok, this is the most ridiculous thing I have every heard. Ryanair, an Irish discount airline is considering a new way to make money. They already charge for everything extra on their flights, but now they want you to pay to pee! That’s right, you have to go, you have to pay! I never thought that anyone would have the nerve to charge you to go to the toilet on an airplane! 

So there you are at 35,000 feet and you have to go and you don’t have any change? What do you do? Do you wet your pants? Do you walk down the aisle and ask everyone for spare change so you can GO? 

Here is a quote from a Ryanair official. “One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future,” This is just crazy! 

So if you are thinking of flying Ryanair in Europe, be sure to take some spare change. You never know when you may have to GO!

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Delta Queen Reborn As Chattanooga Hotel

Posted by thetraveldoctor on February 11, 2009


 

The Delta Queen On The Mississippi

The Delta Queen On The Mississippi

A welcome befitting a Queen, the 82 year-old Delta Queen Steamboat arrived in Chattanooga on Wednesday February 11. Hundreds of people turned out to welcome the Queen to Chattanooga which will be it’s new home as it will become a floating hotel.

 

Ambassadors International, which owns the Delta Queen has chartered to Harry Phillips, owner of Chattanooga Water Taxi and Fat Cat Ferry. Mr. Phillips has hired  Sydney Slome, owner of Chattanooga’s Stone Fort Inn, to manage the Delta Queen Hotel. The hotel is slated to open to the public in April. The hotel will have 87 cabins and can hold 174 guests.

The Delta Queen was built in 1926 and has a steel hull and a wooden superstructure. Currently the Delta Queen cannot legally operate overnight cruises at present because its congressional exemption from fire safety laws was allowed to expire on Oct 31, 2008. 

The Delta Queen will host Dixieland jazz bands, cabarets and musical revues. Tours of the vessel will also be available.

So if you are planning on visiting Chattanooga this summer, you may want to book a cabin on the historic Delta Queen.

Posted in bags, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, economy, first class, food, Hotels, luggage, news, pillows, restaurant, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

American Airlines to buy up to 100 Boeing 787’s

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 28, 2008


 

787 Dreamliner

787 Dreamliner

American Airlines announced this past week that they plan on purchasing up to 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a cost of $15 billion dollars. This purchase could make American the largest operator of the new Boeing aircraft.

 

“This state-of-the-art aircraft will offer many cost and environmental benefits, particularly fuel efficiency and customer friendly attributes and comforts” said Thomas Horton, executive vice president and CFO during the airlines October 15 conference call with financial analysts.

American plans to buy 42 of the 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2012 and 2018, with an option for 58 more for delivery between 2015 and 2020.

The first 787 flight was scheduled for August of 2007, with deliveries to begin in May of 2008. But due to delays and a strike at Boeing, the first flight is now planned for the fourth quarter of 2008 and initial deliveries slated for the third quarter of 2009.

The new 787-9 is designed to carry up to 290 passengers, with at range of up to 8,500 nautical mailes. The 787-9 is a stretch version of the 787-8 and will use 20% less fuel then current aircraft flying today.

These are some of the airlines that have ordered the 787 Dreamliner. 

  1. Qantas – 65 planes
  2. All Nippon Airways – 50 planes
  3. Air Canada – 37 planes
  4. Japan Airlines – 35 planes
  5. Etihad Airways – 35 planes
  6. LAN Airlines – 26 planes
  7. Continental – 25 planes
  8. Aeroflot – 22 planes

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, caribbean, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, gas, investments, luggage, Mexico, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

JetBlue to Increase Service to the Caribbean

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 26, 2008


 

JetBlue at the Gate

JetBlue at the Gate

JetBlue announced that it will add service to Nassau Bahamas from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale on February 1, 2009. And St. Maarten will be getting a new Saturday flight from Boston beginning February 14. All service is subject to government approval. So getting to the Caribbean just got a little easer. Check http://www.jetblue.com for reservations and fares.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, Coach, economy, first class, gas, Las Vegas, luggage, pillows, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »