Podcast Transcript: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Vacation
Rick: Hey everybody! Thanks for joining us on the FareCompare weekly broadcast. The After the Oscars edition today. So, we're going to be chatting a bit about common mistakes. I'm sure a bunch of stars actually make mistakes when they travel by not hiding themselves appropriately when they're in first class but for us that have to sit in the back from time to time, it's probably several mistakes that at least I know that I've made in the past and hopefully I can help correct those. Joining me to talk about these is our editor from the website here at FareCompare.com, Anne McDermott from California today. Hey Anne!
Anne: You and the Oscars. You're just glad a guy from Texas won.
Rick: I actually am! Alright, alright, alright! The funny thing was as soon as McConaughey won. I live in Dallas area and he does the voice over for this electric company here in Dallas and I'm like, "I bet he didn't charge that electric company enough for that voice over".
Anne: Well I'm sure Matthew Mcconaughey does not shop too early and that would be a mistake that you, he probably has his people shop at exactly the right time.
Rick: I know. It's really complicated, right. I'll tell people, "hey, you don't want to procrastinate and then you don't want to shop too early". OK, which is it, Rick? Don't shop too early or don't procrastinate? The answer is both!
Anne: The answer is both!
Rick: Anne, so you can shop too early. Typically if you're shopping sort of outside of three to four months before departure, you're shopping too early. Airlines don't really manage they're cheapest seats during that time frame. So you're going to pay more. You're going to pay the fifth or sixth cheapest price. On the flip side, if you procrastinate inside of a month, or even worse, inside of fourteen days before departure, you are playing right into the airlines hand. They know exactly that your time is running out and they're not going to give you any discounting related to that. Especially if you're inside of seven days on many routes. You'll be treated as though your boss is paying for you ticket and you can afford three or four times the going rate.
Anne: Yeah, if you read the fine print on sales you'll often see "must be booked seven days in advance, fourteen days in advance, twenty-one days in advance". There's a reason for that because they jack up the prices after that.
Rick: Those are common sort of rules we see on airfare. So if you were to take the cheapest airfare that a sale fare…lets take for example one at Southwest files. On that airfare, lets say it's $49 one way. Which is not unusual for a Southwest air for sale. On it it will say, "I'm blacking out Friday and Sunday". So you won't be able to travel on those days. It will say it's only good, sometimes, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. And really what were shooting for when we're trying to buy tickets is those sale fares. Only anywhere from 5-10% of folks on any given flight are actually flying on those sale airfares. That's all they release in those prices. And you want to be as close to that price point as you possibly can. So, you know, the bottom line is you're not going to get those price point on a Friday or Sunday. I know it said $49 but it had that little asterisk down there at the bottom of the ad. And that asterisk comes with a bunch of caveats which includes certain days that they're not good. And they're not going to be good for Thanksgiving when you go later this year when prices are. We know that a number of promises but you have to know what the fine print is around those numbers.
Anne: Well as you always say, maybe you can't fly on the cheapest days of the sale. Say, the Tuesday. If that's not possible say you could fly a Tuesday through Saturday or a Tuesday through Sunday. And you still get half the benefit of that sale.
Rick: Yeah, basically the way that airline pricing is. They don't know if you're coming or going necessarily. They do obviously on your ticket but from an inventory perspective they don't know if you're leaving from your destination or coming back. It's sort of like, if you happen to be the person in the Superbowl city and tickets have just jumped from $500 to $1000 and you?re trying to leave that city to get away from the Superbowl, you're going to be caught up in the wash of that extra high price. Right! So, airlines tend to assume that everybody sort of goes somewhere and comes back. Not everybody is on a one way trip, so pricing is done in that particular way. The thing to, that I think most people don't realize is that we live in a pervasive, fee generation. Basically in the Spring of, I guess it's 2008 now. Gosh it seems such a long time ago. When the first bag fee was actually tossed out there at $15 each way by American Airlines. So we all know that it's probably $25 each way on most airlines. Certainly there are some exceptions like JetBlue and Southwest. Even Southwest I don't think has a fee on their second check bag.
Rick: We all know that we probably are playing the game if we fly even remotely enough. We probably have a branded credit card that waives those fees. But you still need to take into account those particular fees. The other thing that you need to take into account too is what hotel prices are. I know a lot of people say, "hey my airline ticket is too expensive" but obviously the other part of the equation is that if you can save some money on a hotel, for example. In Europe, right now prices are down. If you're heading to Europe, your European tickets are ridiculously, outrageously high compared to historical norms. But at least you'll be saving some money at your lodging on the other side.
Anne: That's a good thing. And also when it comes to reservations…this isn't specifically air travel related but as long as you're going there on a plane. Don't forget to make reservations if you plan to visit some big attractions. Like the White House for example. Or say you're going to be in Italy, the Vatican. A lot of these places it's not like you can just walk up and say, "Hey, I'm here!".
Rick: Even…and my wife is really good about doing things. We actually took a spring break trip to the Washington D.C. last spring break. Which was in 2013. Unfortunately at that time, the White House was closed. After we had contacted our congressman five months ahead of time to get the White House tour. But we did get tickets to "Congress" but what I didn't realize was that when you have the tickets to Congress you don't have, at least from your congressional representative, you only have it for the House side. You don't have it for the Senate side. So we're sitting there with our, I can't remember what color the ticket was. Pink side and I'm going, "How come those people have yellow tickets over there?" And a page told us, "Hey you can probably get one of those from your Senator.". And actually, it was turned out to be kind of a fun trip. We had to go and track and find our Senator in a particular building and find a pass to go in and check out the Senate. So planning time is very important.
Anne: And the same is true for documents. If your passport is going to expire six months after your trip, some countries, I believe France won't let you in. So you've got to make sure there is long enough. And also, if you're going to be flying anywhere with a toddler sitting on your lap for free, make sure they don't turn two in the middle of the trip or else you will be charged the price of a seat on the way home.
Rick: Absolutely. And I've just got the notice from the Texas department of drivers license that I need to renew my license here. Which is coming up and I keep forgetting. I did that last time I had to renew it. I actually missed it by a day or two and ended up at the airport with an expired license. So, I've made almost every mistake you could make.
Anne: But it all works out, right?
Rick: Absolutely but what I had to do was have my wife bring me my passport, so. Which luckily wasn't expired.
Anne: Oh, I was going to say. It works out for you but not so fudge for your wife.
Rick: She wasn't quite happy about that at that particular time. So I ate crow for that for several months afterwards.
Anne: Plan ahead, right!
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