All posts in Hot Topics

Do repeated flight searches trigger plane ticket price hikes?

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

It’s been an accepted truth among computer savvy air travelers that one should always clear their cookies or ensure that private browsing is enabled when shopping for travel deals (see ExpertFlyer post featuring this advice). The reason being, air carriers’ use of dynamic pricing may show higher prices if you click on a flight more than once.

flight search

Time.com recently posted a report debunking this practice. “If the airlines were to raise prices because of browser cookies (targeted individually) there would be air travel whistleblowers and senators running to microphones for legislation to prevent it,” said Seaney. “What people see when they shop multiple times and prices are changing is a reflection of inventory changes, data caching techniques and the fact that prices generally get more expensive closer to departure date, even within a day.”

However, according to William McGee, an aviation adviser for Consumer Reports, he’s seen evidence that this pricing based on search history may not be entirely a myth.

Read the full story here.

Flying in the midst of Irma

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

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Irma is striking fear and panic in the hearts of many Americans, particularly those who have lived through other natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and most recently, Harvey.  Many residents are fleeing extreme danger zones and business and leisure travelers are trying to negotiate plans to get from point A to B on pre-planned trips. Here’s what to expect if you’re flying in the midst of Hurricane Irma.

Flight Cancellations

In an interview with Mark Miller, Global Industry Leader, Aviation for The Weather Company, Mr. Miller said, “Airlines began canceling flights in South Florida and Carribean earlier in the week and there will be significantly more disruption in the next few days as Irma approaches Florida and the storm track becomes clearer.   Airports and the FAA towers halt operations when winds reach 55 mph and airlines generally do not operate in sustained crosswinds that exceed 35 mph.  The safety of employees and passengers is paramount.  There are a number of major airports in the region that will likely reach these thresholds.   Airlines will cancel sooner to ensure a faster recovery when the winds and storm impacts subside, as opposed to having aircraft and crew out of position.   Cancellations combined with reduced airport and airspace capacity through the region can lead to significant delays, propagating to other airports outside the direct impacts of the storm.”

Soaring Ticket Prices

The Verge recently reported on airline price gouging out of Florida. No surprise as the entire region is under a state of emergency.

According to the report, one woman searching Expedia was shown a Delta itinerary between Miami and Phoenix for $3,258. (Delta later directly reached out to her and she was able to book a seat at a lower price.) Someone else trying to book on American found their flight jumped almost $600 within the span of a couple hours. Another on United’s website was presented with a round trip fare between Miami and Denver for $6,785.

What can airlines can do in this type of situation? Some have added additional flights, but there’s only so much that can logistically be done within such a short window of time. “It’s like Christmas,” says Chris Lopinto of ExpertFlyer.com, “except instead of having five months to figure things out, you’re trying to figure this out over the course of five days.”

Lopinto also says airlines can file different fares every hour, so they have the ability to bring down the price for tickets. Some airlines have committed to capping the prices of remaining direct flights. JetBlue and American both said they are selling remaining direct flights this week for $99, while Delta is capping direct flights at $399. These flights, though, were already sold out or nearly sold out. As of 4:21PM ET, ExpertFlyer.com showed just one seat available on JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale to New York over the next couple of days.

Ultimately, even with the extra push from airlines, there simply aren’t enough seats available. If you still need a flight, look now, or start planning to drive.

 

 

 

EarthCam will capture the sun and moon for viewers around the world

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway


WHAT: For the first time, EarthCam’s live webcams will follow the totality of the solar eclipse throughout the United States on August 21, 2017.  From the top of the Seattle Space Needle to the streets of Times Square, viewers will enjoy the extremely rare solar eclipse on www.earthcam.com.

The nationwide broadcast will begin in San Francisco, CA at 9:01 AM local time (12:01 EST) and continue across the continental United States, the first time such a phenomenon has been seen in 99 years.  Watch for shadow bands crossing cityscapes such as Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; St. Louis, MO; and New York City.  The eclipse may have an effect on animals whose behavior relies on light cues.  View the bears at ZooMontana in Billings, MT and the giraffe family at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, SC to see if they start to behave as if it is twilight.  Even where the eclipse will not reach totality, viewers can join the crowds gathering in Las Vegas, NV; Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA and Times Square, NYC.

WHY: The last total solar eclipse in the United States was 99 years ago. The path of totality crosses the country from West coast to East coast through 14 states. The best way to watch the eclipse as it occurs across the country is on EarthCam’s special event page created exclusively for the total solar eclipse. EarthCam is also partnering with NASA to show their entire broadcast from 12PM till 4 PM EST, live on billboards in Times Square.  Over 45 webcams can also be viewed in a special playlist on EarthCamTV, available on Apple TV and Amazon Fire devices.

HOW: Watch the solar eclipse occur via 45 different camera locations with EarthCam’s live webcams!

 

Boost Your Award-Booking and Upgrade Success With ExpertFlyer

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

ExpertFlyer was recently featured by The Points Guy as a resource to get the award seats you want on your next flight.

The Points Guy“If your plan for finding airline award space involves relying on airline phone agents, people who have a very tough job in my opinion, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As hard as they work, many lack the necessary training on award-booking rules and airline partnerships — and this can put an end to your award itinerary before it begins. Today, I’ll show you how you should use ExpertFlyer to get the award seats you want.”

Read the full post here.

 

 

Weekly Business Flyer Touts Loyalty for Amazing Upgrade Opportunities

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In this third installment of tips and takeaways from frequent flying executives, we caught up with Andrew Mahaffey, a sales executive with Ingenico Group, a global leader in seamless payment. Catch up here if you’ve missed previous posts in the series.

Andrew flies for business on a weekly basis and holds Diamond Medallion frequent flyer status with Delta Airlines.

andrew mahaffey, ingenicoWhat are your frequent flyer ninja moves for enjoying as many perks via the airlines as possible?

I utilize the Delta American Express Reserve credit card for traveling and expenses which give you great miles and MQM bonuses, Delta Sky Club access along with free checked bags. With the Delta AMEX Reserve card, you also receive a Companion pass each year.

Being a Diamond customer is great because you will get upgraded 9 out of 10 times on domestic flights especially if you are originating from a non-hub airport which is outside of Atlanta, JFK, MSP, Salt Lake City, Detroit, or LAX. Hitting Diamond also gives you the added bonus to choose four gift options in which one offer is “Four Global Upgrades” to the Delta One cabin or partner equivalents if available. My wife and I just booked a round trip flight from ATL – Barcelona for later this Summer. Our flight was $800 per ticket for Economy but we were able to use the Global Upgrades for each ticket round trip to get us into Delta One (with lay flat beds); the cost of that ticket, if you are paying full price, is $4,525 per ticket.

What’s your biggest bragging right about scoring something from the airlines and how did it come about?

Earlier this year my wife and I redeemed SkyMiles to take a trip to Iceland which we were going first class round trip (99,000 miles each). Our original flight itinerary had us leaving ORD to JFK for a two-hour layover then JFK to REK arriving there at 6:45 am. Due to weather that day (and really that week), all flights into and out of JFK were either severely delayed or canceled. The ticketing agent at ORD was able to place us on a British Airways flight to London which had a 4-hour layover then a flight from London to REK where we arrived at 3:30 pm later that afternoon. The catch was that our flight from ORD to London was not in their first class cabin as it was completely full so we ended up flying economy (which was fine but we used more miles for the purchase to fly in first class). That turned out to be more than okay as our experience on British Airways was outstanding. Great customer service! Delta was still able to get us upgraded on our flight to REK from London which was on Icelandair but that flight was only 2.5 hours. Anyway, due to the delay and changing of classes, Delta gave me back 38,500 miles for each ticket along with giving each of us $200 flight vouchers. Delta also gave many passengers that week 20,000 bonus miles if you experienced a delay over 3 hours which we both received too. In the end, we actually ended up obtaining 58,500 miles back per ticket (117,000 total miles) from that overall experience which only put us 8 hours behind our original schedule. We effectively spent 81,000 miles total (original total being 198,000 miles) to go to Iceland all while getting $400 worth of flight vouchers, too.

Anything else that other business travelers should know to help them make flying more enjoyable?

I would recommend staying loyal to an airline and focus on obtaining status as the whole experience of traveling gets much better and easier once you get that status (early boarding, upgrades, sky club, priority customer service call center, etc.).