Airline fees not what they seem

Booking a higher fare can actually save you money.

When you book a flight these days, sometimes you just want to shriek, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” at the screen. You already know those cheap airfare prices are a load of crap. You know they’re going to charge you fees or make up for that cheap-looking price with something else. It turns out that sometimes you can even save money by booking a higher fare.

Check out how this traveler’s experience, for example, when booking a cheap flight only to be charged separate fees for baggage, carry-on, boarding, and flight changes! A $130 ticket nearly doubled itself to $237 in mere moments. The traveler opted for Southwest instead, since the company doesn’t charge extra fees (yet), and saved nearly $100.

When you book your next flight, keep in mind that these fees can really add up. Call around first to see which airlines charge you fees for separate items and get an idea of how much you can save by paying regular price when a sale price really is too good to be true. Fees can vary widely, so last week’s information may not even be the same as this week. It’s best to do your research while you plan to book your flight.

Marriott hates moms!

Looking for a summer getaway, parents? Best opt for a cozy B and B.

Have you seen the new Marriott Courtyard commercials? You can click here to watch as an irritated man is surrounded by women with children on a plane, and as they cry or kick his seat, the voiceover tells you, “You didn’t choose to travel like this. But you could choose to travel like this.” Then they show you a bunch of blah-blah images of their hotel.

I guess Marriott didn’t think about the moms who didn’t choose to travel like that, either, but were likely out of options; do you think we want to travel on a plane with a baby? Do you think we want you to use us as symbols of irritation in your commercial to show how boo-hoo life is for a dude who has to wear an expensive suit and travel? Use first class, man, if sitting next to a woman not unlike the one who gave you life bothers you.According to Marriott’s press release, this video is supposed to make frequent flyers “chuckle,” and poke fun at the supposed lack of control we have over our traveling options. I suppose they didn’t think about women—moms in particular, who are probably the largest consumer group in the country—or children, when they made this advertisement. I don’t think many moms are going to find it very amusing, either. It fits in right with the war on children that many have written about, since society seems to hate them these days—and it reduces mothers from society’s most necessary components and caregivers to a minor irritation during your flight.

Really, Marriott?

I’ve stayed at a Marriott Hotel before. It was nice. I won’t be doing it again, however—especially if we use next year’s tax returns to fund a vacation as we’ve always wanted. I won’t use it for the night of escape and relaxation that I plan on taking myself later in the year, nor with my husband in the summer, either. I don’t like people who mock mothers or children, nor those who make being a successful, privileged man seem like being such a hardship (You have to fly in the air next to children! Oh noes, two whole hours of your life RUINED!). I am betting that many of the men this ad is targeting have children at home, as well, and wives who have to fly without them with said children—and they are not “chuckling.”

No, this summer I’ll stick to my super family Drury Inn. Maybe I won’t get the opulent room I wanted, but I’ll get respect for both my child and myself. Maybe we’ll head to a nice bed and breakfast where we’ll spend a portion of the price for double the respect. Either way, I won’t be giving my money to a company who thinks I’m something to be avoided on a plane because I am a mother.


Airline Amenities

What does Virgin airlines have to offer?

Flying has sure changed a lot from the days of receiving nothing but a package of peanuts. Well, I suppose that really does depend on the airline. Virgin Airlines, for example has a few amenities that you might like. Have you ever forgotten to charge your iPod or laptop and there were no plugs in sight? I have! Virgin Airlines solves that problem. The airline offers plugs (standard and USB plugs) for your devices.

Hint: You might be able to charge up that cell phone by plugging it into your laptop. You don’t have to suffer from internet withdrawal while you are on your flight. You can surf the net all you using the airline’s Wi-fi.  You might have heard about the new social networking amenities that some airlines are beginning to include on flights. Virgin Airlines is taking social networking in the air by offering an airline chat utility. You can chat with your friends who are sitting in a different area on the plan or you can chat with someone you do not know and would like to know better. I see the potential for some serious inflight flirting with this amenity!

Just like in a bar, you can open a tab for your drinks. This reduces the need to fiddle with your plastic every time you want something to drink or extra snacks. Those of you who do not like surprises when it is time to eat can read the meal menus online. Both the menus for cabin seating and first class are available on the Virgin America site.

Were You Impacted by Flight Cancellations in the Northeast?

Get Where You Need to Go

Unpredictable bad weather recently stranded travelers who were taking flights in Northeast United States. What should you do? Contact the airline immediately. It's likely that the airline will allow you to change your ticket for free. For example, the recent bad weather that impacted the Northeastern region of the United States  left thousands of travelers stranded, and American Airlines announced that fliers could travel later for free. 

A news release from American Airlines states that people who were traveling on February 11 could could delay their trip and travel through Feb. 13. American Airlines routes in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Connecticut were impacted. The free ticket reissues apply to American Eagle and American Connection flights, too.

If you find that your flight is canceled on any airline, you should first keep calm and seek answers. Most people  immediately visit the airline's desk at the airport, but you can temporarily avoid the line by visiting the airline's website for information regarding the delays. The airline will most likely post a notice to announce waiving of fees. Check the airline's website for information regarding the waiver. You can also call the airline's reservation department to book a new flight.

Travelers who need refunds can possibly receive their money back. Just call the reservations line. It's always a good idea to have the airline's reservations number in your cell phone and make certain that your phone is well-charged before you travel. Of course, if your bags have been checked, you can't avoid going to the counter to get them back. 

Southwest is Getting a Makeover!

"I am still looking forward to my next flight with them, and I love the no change fees."

There is nothing that causes me greater anxiety than travel. I am not a fan of flying, but I also know to get from point A to point B there is only one way short of teleporation or leaving your job to travel in a motor home.  Last year I took my first trip with Southwest.  After all the scary stories I heard about the cattle call to get on the plane, I have to tell you I really enjoyed my flight. We paid the extra $10 upgrade to get on the plane first, definitley worth the money! I figure if we aren't paying for baggage, might as well pay for the upgrade.  The plane itself needed a little updating, and now I am happy to see that Southwest will be doing a little housekeeping on the planes.

Southwest has taken a smart approach, cutting almost 600 pounds from the plane with a slick re-design of their seats. This will save the company about $10 million dollars each year. This is the first time they have made upgrades to the planes since 2011.  The seats are aimed at being more comfortable (maybe Kevin Smith and I can sit next to eachother) but they are actually adding a few more seats to each plane. (more profit) I wish they would stay out of the celebrity spotlight, it seems that they have so much potential and they are by far the most reasonable, they are always getting in trouble in the news for throwing some celebrity off.

I am still looking forward to my next flight with them, and I love the no change fees. Did you know you can change a flight and just keep your credit for the next one? Sounds good to me.  There are some great time lapse videos online of the interior re-design. I can only imagine how long the process was, but it breaks down into a neat one minute video.

Social Networks to Choose a Seatmate?

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will offer the ability for passengers to use social media to choose the people who will sit next to them. Passengers can use the Facebook profiles or the LinkedIn profiles from other passengers to select seatmates. Now, I believe that this tool could have some benefits and some consequences. First of all, here's a benefit. You might be able to choose to sit next to someone who you might actually wish to talk to, or you could choose to sit next to someone who doesn't talk much at all. For many people, a quiet seatmate is a blessing, especially for a long trip. For other people, talkative seatmates who share some of the same interests are perfect. I see a problem with the ability to pick a seatmate based on the way he or she looks. If photos are viewable in the profiles when people select their seatmates, who is not to say that people will choose not to sit next to someone based on race or other superficial measures. Someone might choose to sit next to someone because that person has a more attractive photo than another person.

Participating in the service is not mandatory, but I just wonder what happens if you do choose to participate, and you are not a sought after seatmate. Can you choose to sit next to someone and that person declines the invitation? How will that feel when you get on the plan and see the person or people who turned you down? I'm merely musing here. At this point, we still do not know details of how the KLM system will work. All I know is that it's a lot easier to face a virtual slight than to face the person who turned you down once he or she steps onto the plane.

Alec Baldwin Kicked Off Flight, Starts Feud

Must have been a pretty good word!
Alec Baldwin, a.k.a. "the famous Baldwin," was kicked off an American Airlines flight last week after a bit of a scuffle with the flight staff. Baldwin was playing Words With Friends (an insanely popular Scrabble-like game) on his cell phone, and refused to stop when asked. 
According to Baldwin, he was innocently playing while the plane was sitting idle at the gate. Presumably Baldwin felt that his Words With Friends game was no threat to the flight, but it hardly matters. When the flight attendants tell you to turn off your cell phones and electronic devices, you pretty much have to turn off your cell phones and electronic devices, even if you think it is silly!

Instead of politely turning off his cell phone, or even doing so in a huff, Baldwin stormed into the airplane's bathroom, slammed the door shut, and started banging on the wall. Loudly enough that it startled the captain. (Pro tip: the flight crew tends to be skittish about loud banging noises on the plane.) He also "was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language."
Some passengers claim that Baldwin was actually talking on his phone. Other said that he seemed to be intoxicated. What is certain is that Baldwin's bad behavior caused an extra 45 minute delay for his fellow passengers.
My question is, what word was Baldwin playing? If he was playing Words With Friends, his behavior is obviously that of a man who was winning. 
In response to the spat, Baldwin first urged his 600,000 Twitter followers to unfollow him. Shortly thereafter, someone (presumably Baldwin) deactivated his Twitter account. Which is a somewhat strange move, frankly. It makes me wonder if one of Baldwin's handlers took the Twitter away to prevent Baldwin from making any more public embarrassments.
Baldwin followed up with a perhaps ill-advised appearance on Saturday Night Live that week. He came on "Weekend Update" in the persona of the pilot of the flight, and proceeded to apologize wholeheartedly to Alec Baldwin on behalf of American Airlines and the entire flight crew, calling Alec Baldwin "an American treasure." It was a surreal moment to be sure, and left many people wondering if Baldwin is sliding slowly towards a Charlie Sheen-like crack-up.
American Airlines cabin crews across the country are protesting Baldwin's boorish actions, and asking for "30 Rock" to be removed from the American Airlines in-flight entertainment.