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Old 03-13-2009, 10:24 AM   #21
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Actually, it depends on what the airline ticket you get would have cost in cash. Example: DW's ticket to Bangor would have been $397. (I shopped all the usual discount web sites and the airline sites.) A ticket to St Louis would have been about $150. If she was going to St Louis, I'd have paid cash for the ticket. To Bangor, I used the reward points.
I am just saying. YMMV, of course.
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What's next: Spending a penny (literally) on Ryanair?
Old 03-13-2009, 10:35 AM   #22
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What's next: Spending a penny (literally) on Ryanair?

O'Leary flies by the seat of his pants with 'toilet charge' - The Irish Times - Fri, Feb 27, 2009

Apparently O'Leary has backed down, recognizing it just wouldn't fly (so to speak).

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Old 03-13-2009, 10:46 AM   #23
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I am just saying. YMMV, of course.
Roger on that!

It does seem strange that any domestic continental 48 ticket costs the same number of Visa points even though the cash price could vary by 3 or 4 to 1 depending on the trip. I suppose the Visa folks are hoping lots of folks will use their points to get what would have been cheap tickets if paid for in cash.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:48 AM   #24
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Actually, it depends on what the airline ticket you get would have cost in cash. Example: DW's ticket to Bangor would have been $397. (I shopped all the usual discount web sites and the airline sites.) A ticket to St Louis would have been about $150. If she was going to St Louis, I'd have paid cash for the ticket. To Bangor, I used the reward points.
But for $397 (or a bit more) could you have found a better flight to Bangor?

Some frequent flier programs have horrible choices of flights to choose from, including loooong layovers and a couple extra connections.

Case in point, I was trying to book a flight from the east coast to Vegas. We have non-stop options for $230 for a ~5 hr trip, and tons of 1 connection flights for 6-7 hr trips. The "free" frequent flier flights varied from 10-35 hours with at least 2 connections, virtually all requiring overnight layovers or redeyes on the dates I wanted, and some with many looong layovers.

I'm sure frequent flier points are good in some cases. United seems to have a good program, and I can get really good options to a wide variety of domestic and international destinations with good schedules, layovers and flight times.
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:13 AM   #25
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My travel agent (whose services I use very infrequently) tells me you have to know how to use the system. For example, I have a whackload of points on Aeroplan (Star Alliance). If I travel to Europe on Air Canada, the fees can be several hundred dollars. If I travel on another Star Alliance airline (e.g. Lufthansa) fees can be as little as $100.

And that is what I am doing tomorrow.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:14 AM   #26
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Rant Alert - Rant Alert - Rant Alert

First, let me say that one of my true pleasures in life is travel. I enjoy seeing new places and I also enjoy getting to know places intimately once I've discovered them.

But the hoops you have to go through now, especially with air travel, but also with booking hotels and "events" takes much of the pleasure out of travel.

Simply shopping for airline tickets drives me to distraction. In the old days, I used a travel agent. I'm learning to use the net, but it means I have to do all the work. In either method, even though I'm very flexible on time/dates, etc. it is difficult to find the (or even a) low price to a destination.

I am sufficiently libertarian, I suppose, that I think airlines and the travel industry in general have every right to structure their pricing any way they want. But they might as well save any advertising they do - especially any advertising directed at garnering brand loyalty. There was a time that I could say "Basket Airways, now THAT'S the airline I always fly!" Now, if I fly the same airline twice in a row, it's a coincidence. There are still maybe one or two airlines which enjoy (maybe justified) a reputation as being "good" airlines (think Southwest). Other than that, I consider them all the same - adequate at best.

Adding all the fees lately has added to my frustration. I actually prefer to pay for what I use in most cases, but it adds to the "shopping" part of planning travel. The fees may be the make-or-break when it comes to total cost of travel.

And don't get me started on "miles". What a total PITA. It's bad enough shopping with real money. When you use "points" or "miles", the shopping experience gets even more frustrating. I don't like shopping, haggling, or surfing (for deals).

I realize that all this "stuff" is just the way it is now in the travel industry. But if anyone thinks their airline has some sort of leg-up on anyone else, they are mistaken IMO. They're like the banks, starting about 10 years ago. Banks thought they could start nickel-and-diming their customers with new and strange fees and everyone would still "love" their old bank. Again, hey, it's their business, but don't expect any loyalty from me.

I could go on, but I'm sure it won't make any difference. I think "loyalty" - to or from a business is becoming an anachronism. It's a shame, but I see it getting worse, starting at the "big" companies and working its way down. The only places I feel any loyalty to are the small specialty type businesses (think restaurants and mom-and-pop service companies.) The big guys, OK, I'll play your silly game, but don't kid yourself that I like you! Don't think I won't sell you out for 10 cents either.

End of Rant - End of Rant - End of Rant

We return you now to our regularly scheduled programming.
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Old 03-15-2009, 02:06 PM   #27
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Impressive rant!
I travel by air so rarely anymore I haven't been exposed to this kind of nonsense.
However... I'll be flying over the Atlantic this July for a 12 day Med cruise sailing out of Barcelona. It is a group trip, and the coordinator is using a travel agent for the entire trip itinerary. TG!!!!
Mindless traveling is my preference. I don't know what airline the agent is using and I don't really care. All I know is she booked our tickets recently, I paid for them, and I don't have to take a bus to NYC to fly out of JFK. I'll bring my own snacks and headphones and maybe a small pillow now . I will fill my own water bottle once I'm through security.
So the airlines can KMG (the G stands for grits) for trying to charge me for these things.
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:27 PM   #28
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But for $397 (or a bit more) could you have found a better flight to Bangor?

Some frequent flier programs have horrible choices of flights to choose from, including loooong layovers and a couple extra connections.

Case in point, I was trying to book a flight from the east coast to Vegas. We have non-stop options for $230 for a ~5 hr trip, and tons of 1 connection flights for 6-7 hr trips. The "free" frequent flier flights varied from 10-35 hours with at least 2 connections, virtually all requiring overnight layovers or redeyes on the dates I wanted, and some with many looong layovers.

I'm sure frequent flier points are good in some cases. United seems to have a good program, and I can get really good options to a wide variety of domestic and international destinations with good schedules, layovers and flight times.
No, $397 gets you the four city route. A three city route (as good as it gets - zero direct flights from Chicago to Bangor - cost roughly $100 more.

As I said, right now I'm using frequent flyer miles or credit card points for expensive flights, like Chicago to Bangor. I'm paying cash for the cheap stuff like Chicago to Minneapolis. Same number of points for any continental USA flight despite huge cash differences in ticket prices.
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