Podcast Transcript: What You Don't Know about Air Travel Can Hurt You This Summer

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Rick: Hey everybody. Thank you for joining us today on the FareCompare weekly podcast. My name is Rick Seaney. I’m the co-founder of FareCompare.com. We’re gonna chat a little bit about a handful of things that. I’ve gotten some word from people this summer that have hit them. Not on the good by the way. Sometimes on the good side actually. They can possibly hurt you as you start to travel and many people are partaking travel. We are sitting here in mid-July and a lot of people over the next four or five weeks are going to be traveling. Joining me today to talk about some of these things is our editor from the site at FareCompare. From California today, Anne McDermott. Hey Anne!

Anne: Hey Rick. I have some friends that spent days and even weeks carefully crafting these itineraries so that everything would just fit. The layover would be just the right amount of time. Blah, blah, blah. And then at the last minute they get an email from their airline. Really kind of at the last minute saying, “Sorry, we have changed the flight time.”. And everything goes BOOM.

Rick: Absolutely. And it is more like KA-BOOM! You know that non-stop turns into a connecting flight or that layover city where you are going to meet your granddaughter does not occur because you do not have the four hours to do that on domestic flights. We see a lot of upheaval. Flight schedules are changing on airlines. They are adding routes. They are dropping routes. You absolutely need to be checking. Not everybody likes to give their email address or their cell phone number. Certainly the Edward Snowden’s of the world are probably in that category. And they may not contact you or they try and contact you and it ends up in your spam folder. So you need to be checking your reservation about a week ahead of time. Typically a lot of people check it at the 24 hour mark because they are trying to get their seat assignments without having to pay a fee. But you need to be checking. That gives you a week to sort of negotiate with the very, very busy phone operators because many of these changes cannot be done online.

Anne: Right and it can really screw things up. I do not think it is common exactly but it is not uncommon.

Rick: Yes. It happens typically at certain times of the year when airlines change their schedules. They want to change their timeframes. We see it too when airlines are merging and you get in the throws of those mergers like we had with American and US airways. So it does happen more than an odd bit of times. Usually the time change is only maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. But for some people that slide into the airport slightly late that could be the difference between making it to your flight or not.

Anne: There are some other things that people may not know about and that they are use to or at least used to it years past. One of those things is last minute specials.

Rick: Yeah. I am really surprised. I think this is part of the reason we do not see many last minute specials is there are no empty middle seats. Airlines in general, when you are inside of fourteen days and especially seven days of departure, they are going to charge you as though your boss is buying your ticket. They are going to charge you anywhere from $600-$1000 on certain routes. And then sometimes they have these last minute specials and they are just fewer and far between. I think a lot of it has to do with just trimming back the airlines. They have less people. Less marketing people. Less people to try some of these specialty deals on the weekends. We have seen bereavement fares go away. So in general, do not expect to be able to find a last minute deal.

Anne: There are some new rules on security that people have to know. Particularly if you are coming into the US from say a vacation in Europe. But also we have just recently learned that this may occur. This new security check may occur for US travelers. Some anyway.

Rick: Yeah I think you are going to see some random checks where they will actually try to get you to flip on your device along with doing searching of your bags and whatnot in some cases. So I think randomly they will be doing that. I think partially as a training measure incase they do have to do it. If they had to have every electronic turned on, as we start to fly, basically airlines would have a conniption. Nobody would end up flying. People would stop flying because it would be crazy. You would have to get to the airport three hours early. It would be very difficult for them to implement something like they are doing on flights coming back from Europe where they actually test every device by flipping it on.

Anne: You would have to show up at the airport in time to stand in line that would take longer than your flight, I’m sure.

Rick: It would be almost like standing in line for a honey baked ham a week before Thanksgiving. Which I have had to do a few times.

Anne: I was going to say, “Been there!”.

Rick: I have been there a few times in my life. Hey could you just drop by and pick up the ham? Yeah, four hours later. No problem. So if you do not like that than clearly we are going to have to have some new ways to monitor electronics and scan electronics. Airlines are really not going to be happy. Consumers are not going to be happy. It is probably one of the handful of times they are both aligned on things.

Anne: Now if you do not fly a whole lot, you may have missed some of these. There are some new fees and new regulations about what you can and can?t do and what will get you charged a fee. I think one of the big ones is changes at Frontier.

Rick: Yeah, the carry-on fee, that is a new addition in the last year. So if you are flying Frontier. Especially if you bought that ticket on Expedia or Orbitz, they are charging quite a big hefty fee ahead of time unless you actually go in and book your carry-on.

Anne: And also, if you want a drink of water or a coke or a cup of coffee on a Frontier flight, open up your wallet.

Rick: Yeah I don’t know how long that is going to last. I am sure and I do not get a chance because Frontier does not have very many flights into Dallas to see this. But I remember the first time back maybe four or five years ago that US Airways implemented paying for cokes. I was on the first flight where they implemented that rule and the flight attendants and crew apologized.

Anne: They got rid of that pretty quickly. They had to ditch it. They were out on a limb on that particular thing. I do not expect that to be something that passengers. Especially getting water and whatnot. I think that it is a little bit past the line but again as long as you know ahead of time and you know what you are in for. I think that for the most part people just are not as well informed and it is hard for the airlines to inform everybody. They are just buying their tickets and not knowing these particular rules. Bag fees, food fees and what not.

Anne: Thanks Rick.

Rick: Thanks.


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Published: July 21, 2014