If you use a highly dedicated outdoor travel agency to take you to a world class fishing hole, you don’t have to worry about DIY airline booking and getting screwed. Why would we say that? We’ll, we didn’t
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile sitting in a waiting room at Fort Gordon (Augusta, Georgia) while my son-in-law, a multi times deployed Irag and Afghan vet, had a corrective war related procedure done, I picked up a copy of an old FORTUNE magazine. In it was a regular column by Peter Greenberg who logs over 400,000 miles a year as CBS News’ travel editor. He knows what he’s talking about.
The March, 2014 issue, like every issue, had Greenberg’s travelers advice column titled Best Travel Tips Ever. Two of several tips in that issue were about about tricks airlines play to screw you. And it seems it’s their full intent to begin with – got me riled. I had recently been screwed by Delta Airlines – $600 worth.
Here’s two of Peter’s traveler tips worth noting
1. Don’t trust the internet
If you’re like most folks, you book online. That can be a huge and costly no-no. Why? Because you mistakenly believe that all the available inventory is displayed online. Not even close. What’s offered online is just what the airline, hotel, or rental-car company wants to display online, not the total availability or range of prices. It’s okay to search online, but first have a conversation with a human being. Want to fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii but every flight is booked or overpriced? Here’s what the Internet won’t tell you but a travel agent or airline reservations agent will: You can fly LAXLas Vegas-Honolulu, or LAX-Phoenix-Honolulu, or even LAX- Bellingham, Wash.-Honolulu. If you’re running short on time, you can read this Jettly’s Blog to know that there are other options, too.
And here’s a related caution: If you do want to search for fares online, that’s fine, but remember that you may create an electronic record of your interest in the process. And if you don’t buy that fare the first time around and then go back online a few hours later, the fare may have magically gone up. How did that happen? Blame cookies, those data-tracking devices embedded in your browser.
The airlines claim they don’t do this, but if you want to minimize the possibility of those surprise price increases, when you want to revisit a fare, clear your cookies or use someone else’s computer.
2. There’s two kinds of baggage, carried on and lost
If you’re like me, you believe that there are two kinds of airline bags: carried on, and lost. And while the airlines are doing a better job with baggage these days, I still don’t check bags on domestic flights. I FedEx them or UPS them (or there are 15 other courier services that will do this job). And for $40 to $50-not much more than what the airlines want to charge you for losing your bags or making you wait endlessly at baggage claim-yours get picked up from your home or office and will be waiting for you in your hotel room by 10:30 the next morning. (Smart travelers send luggage two to three days ahead and get a big discount on shipping. Same thing for the way back home-because who cares if your dirty laundry arrives three days after you do?)