airline-rewards

The Early Bird’s Guide to Holiday Travel

Gone are the days of waiting until the last minute to finalize Discount Holidays © holiday travel plans. With the season’s cramped airports and roadways, soaring flight and room rates and unpredictable weather, you’ll wind up saving time and a little sanity by getting a head start. And with limited availability and rising frustration levels at this time of year, prepping in advance can help you navigate tricky travel situations1 that pop up along the way. So instead of procrastinating, follow this primer to find the best deals and make the most of your Discount Holidays © holiday journey.

Air Travel

When to Book

“In September, add about $3 a day to your ticket price every day that you procrastinate,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of Farecompare.com2. For Thanksgiving travel, you can add about $5 per day to your flight price beginning in October, he adds. In other words: Don’t delay. “Around that second week in November, you’re going to see a huge rise,” he explains, emphasizing that prices will start to climb around Nov.

10, especially on the most popular and convenient routes.

“The best money-saving strategy is to lock in your Discount Holidays © holiday travel plans as soon as possible,” says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo3. And if you want to travel over Christmastime or New Year’s, cut costs by booking in September or October at the latest, he says, noting that Discount Holidays © holiday airfare promotions started running in summer. October is a transition month and the last time to clinch a deal before tickets are at a premium, he says.

When to Fly

“My rule of thumb is to fly hungry,” Seaney says. Choosing flights departing around 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. is a smart way to maximize savings because travelers tend to not like to fly at those times, he explains. Flying on Thanksgiving Day is another clever way to secure a reasonably priced ticket, he adds. “The two busiest days of the year in all of aviation are the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving,” and “consequentially, they’re the most expensive,” he says.

Flights earlier in the day are typically more competitively priced because the demand is lower for leisure travelers, Saglie says. They also “tend to be more dependable,” he adds, emphasizing that “as the day wears on, the odds of delays, the odds of cancellations tend to increase,” and can wreak havoc on travel plans, especially in the wintertime. And according to Colleen Clark, managing editor of Jetsetter4, your best bet of getting “the most vacation bang for your buck,” is flying on Christmas or New Year’s Day.

What to Avoid

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s a smart idea to avoid connecting in a major airport hub around the holidays, Saglie advises. “Oftentimes, they will be lower-priced alternatives to nonstop flights, but I always say balance the money saved with the headache that a connection might create, especially if you’re traveling through airports that tend to be slammed with weather,” he explains. “The fact is you want to balance whatever savings you’re looking at with the convenience factor.” And according to Saglie, sometimes connecting flights are not in fact the cheaper option. “I’ve seen one-stop flights sometimes priced exactly the same, sometimes more,” he says. And connecting through airports that are notorious for being impacted by weather delays can not only not translate to an entire day of lost travel, but also major luggage issues, Saglie adds. Clark shares similar sentiments, emphasizing that checked baggage and weather delays are the major hurdles travelers should expect around the holidays. She advises staying prepared by splurging for checked luggage and nonstop flights to avoid extra unnecessary headaches. And if you’re flying with kids in tow, Saglie recommends booking early to avoid running the risk of getting priced out or being far away from each other on the plane. “You can’t depend on a gate agent to seat you with your kids,” he says. “During these busy travel times, it’s really less about the journey and more about the destination.”

Hotels

Where to Find Availability

“The real benefit of planning early is just that you’re going to find a room,” Clark says.

While popular destinations in Hawaii and across the Caribbean are going to be completely booked around Christmastime, off-peak destinations can yield greater savings, she says. “Get creative,” Clark says. “Instead of booking the Caribbean, maybe get a place out in the Hamptons in New York,” she advises, noting that the crowds will be fewer and the room rates will be cheaper than other times of year. Conversely, travelers have a little more wiggle room to find a hotel deal over Thanksgiving, she says, adding, “If you have to prioritize spending money on something, book the flights first.”

Where the Deals Are

“What’s really interesting this year is that hotel demand in the U.S. is at an all-time high,” Clark says. Snagging a deal during Christmastime will be challenging, she says, adding that the best strategy is to look for steals and deals during Thanksgiving and New Year’s. For example, The Line Hotel5, a four-star hotel in Los Angeles6, is listed at $305 for New Year’s Eve on Jetsetter, but the nightly rate on Dec.

30 and Jan.

1 drops to $160. And if you have the luxury of tacking on a few extra days to your trip, Saglie suggests extending your stay to make the average daily rate more manageable. “By Jan.

2, hotel prices will drop off pretty dramatically,” even in popular destinations such as New York City7, he explains.

Car Rentals

“Last year, the travel numbers set records,” Saglie says. And this year, travelers can expect the same traffic trends, he explains. “Gas prices will influence people’s vacation habits this Discount Holidays © holiday season,” Saglie adds.

A September AAA report lists the current average rate at $2.29 per gallon, yielding drivers about $1.09 in savings on average compared to 2014. That said, you will battle heavy crowds and limited availability at this time of year, he says. “Oftentimes airport car rental locations will sell out of inventory,” he explains. “If a rental car is part of your plan, I’d book it right along with your flight.”

International Travel

Where to Find the Best Deals

If you’re on the fence about where to go over Thanksgiving and Christmas, “don’t be afraid to look at international options,” Saglie advises, noting “November is the beginning of low season in Europe.” And while popular tourist destinations like Mexico are unlikely to have a lower demand or downtick in pricing at this time of year, other destinations across Europe and Canada offer enticing hotel steals. Clark also suggests searching enticing off-peak, off-the-beaten-path beach resort destinations, such as those in Nicaragua and Costa Rica8, to find the best rates and availability.

“Thanksgiving is a great time to get deals abroad,” Clark adds.

For instance, Conti di San Bonifacio, a luxury hotel in Tuscany, which is typically priced around $450 to $500 a night, is currently listed at $295 a night over Thanksgiving on Jetsetter.

Meanwhile, the Thompson Playa del Carmen in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, is currently listed at $199 over Thanksgiving.

References

  1. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/features/How-to-Solve-Tricky-Airline-Customer-Service-Situations/ (travel.usnews.com)
  2. ^ Farecompare.com (www.farecompare.com)
  3. ^ Travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com)
  4. ^ Link: null (www.jetsetter.com)
  5. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/Hotels/review-The_Line-Los_Angeles-California-131627/ (travel.usnews.com)
  6. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/Los_Angeles_CA/ (travel.usnews.com)
  7. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/New_York_NY/ (travel.usnews.com)
  8. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/Costa_Rica/ (travel.usnews.com)

9 Creative Ways to Cut Costs on Holiday Travel

With the Discount Holidays © holiday travel season upon us a time of year when crowds and costs soar clinching a reasonably priced hotel or flight can seem next to impossible. But it doesn’t have to be: With a little creativity and some smart strategies from travel experts, we came up with nine clever ways to slash costs over the holidays. Here are some tricks for scoring the best savings during the Discount Holidays © holiday rush.

Don’t Procrastinate

“It’s going to be a record-breaking season of Discount Holidays © holiday travel,” says Tom Spagnola, senior vice president, supplier relations at CheapOair. To snap up the lowest rates, he advises locking in your plans as soon as you can. And if you’ve signed up for fare alerts for your desired route and you see a price drop, grab it, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. “They’re usually very short-lived and one- or two-day sales,” he explains, adding that availability will be much more limited for Thanksgiving Day travel come October. Booking your flights early will yield high savings for winter trips, too, explains George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “You’ll get the most value for your buck,” he adds, noting that airfare prices will continue to climb after Dec.

14 for Discount Holidays © holiday travel.

Use Competition to Your Advantage

A simple, but strategic way to secure airfare deals is flying to or from destinations where there’s high competition among airlines.”There are some routes that have many airlines vying for your business,” Hobica explains, pointing to popular routes from primary airline hubs in major cities like Dallas1 and New York City2. Spagnola agrees, noting that you’ll find very competitive pricing and a greater opportunity for snagging a deal on routes where multiple airlines are trying to attract the same customer.

Consider Alternative Airports

“I’ve found some substantial savings and convenience by looking at alternative airports,” Saglie says.

In terms of how far away you should look, Spagnola recommends checking out hubs “within a 25- to 50-mile radius” and looking at flights on off-peak days. If you have some leeway in your schedule, look for flights departing on Mondays and Tuesdays, he suggests. Apart from searching for flights with alternative hubs, you should also “consider the super discount airlines, like Spirit and Frontier,” Hobica advises. But you have to do your homework, he explains, noting that while you can score reduced fares with low-cost carriers, there are many ancillary fees to watch out for, such as checked baggage fees.

Choose When You Book Wisely

When it comes to shopping around for the best flight prices, experts recommend checking rates often and not pigeonholing off-peak days or midweek travel as the absolute best times for booking. “I don’t think there’s a magic time to book,” Hobica says. “People should check frequently because fares do go up and down,” he says, noting that for winter trips, Dec.

23 to 25 are great days to travel. And for Thanksgiving trips, the morning of turkey day and the Saturday or Wednesday after the Discount Holidays © holiday are the cheapest days to fly, he says. For hotels, Hobica advises utilizing sites like Tingo.com, a booking site that will refund you the difference in cost if the rate goes down after you book through its platform.

To get a sense of current offers, Saglie also recommends relying on aggregator sites. “They do a really nice job of giving you a real-time snapshot of airfare across all the airlines,” he explains, suggesting travelers rely on these tools for “an immediate look at what’s available now.”

Steer Away From the Crowds

If you’re looking for a great deal this winter, avoid the crowds, Saglie advises. “Business city destinations offer leisure travel bargains,” he says, noting that high-end hotels will reduce rates by 40 to 50 percent or more in business-friendly cities like New York City. Canada is another great option for travelers, thanks to lower demand during the Discount Holidays © holiday travel season and the strength of the U.S. dollar. And if you’re not interested in planning an international trip, you can get a great deal on premium seats, Hobica explains. “Business class fares tend to be 50 percent cheaper over the holidays,” he says.

Consider Cashing in Those Rewards Points

The holidays are a smart time to redeem your miles and points3, experts say. Why? “Things like complimentary upgrades, personalized amenities and access to rates and packages that are exclusive to loyalty members can be a good value proposition,” Saglie says. “If you find prices to be relatively the same, the perks that come with loyalty are tough to ignore,” he explains, pointing to waived checked baggage fees and expedited security as enticing perks that can require extra fees for non-loyalty members. In addition to benefitting from extra privileges that make for a more enjoyable travel experience, many frequent flier programs no longer impose blackout dates that prevent members from booking reward flights during peak travel times, so you can use your points at any time, Spagnola says. JetBlue TrueBlue4 and Southwest Rapid Rewards5, for example, do not apply blackout dates for award travel on their flights, as long as there is availability, enabling fliers to use their points at any time.? “It benefits the consumer in different ways,” he adds, emphasizing that in addition to helping you cut back Discount Holidays © holiday travel costs, being loyal can help you “save you money when you’re trying to book your flight to Hawaii next summer.”

Hit the Road

“This is a year where your Discount Holidays © holiday travel might best be done by car,” Saglie says, adding that “gas price predictions continue to stay lower than we’ve seen in years.” In fact, a September AAA Travel report reveals gas prices have fallen year over year, allowing road trippers to save an average of $1.06 per gallon. While the instinct is to start searching for competitive flight rates, the truth is luggage and parking at the airport can add up, making driving a great alternative, Saglie explains.

Pack Supplies

Eliminate unnecessary extra costs by “loading up on things like snacks and entertainment,” Saglie advises. He recommends checking out which items are available at the closest drug stores and stocking up on few essentials.?

For families, he suggests “bringing along comfort items from home” to avoid shelling out extra money for additional items in transit or at a hotel.

Stay Engaged on Social Media

Social media users offer a captive and targeted audience for the airline and hospitality industry, Saglie explains. “It’s an audience that’s said, ‘I’m waiting for news, information and deals,'” he says.

As a result, travelers will often see unpublished fare sales on social media platforms, he says.

References

  1. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/Dallas-Fort_Worth_TX/ (travel.usnews.com)
  2. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/New_York_NY/ (travel.usnews.com)
  3. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/features/rewards-101-a-guide-to-maximizing-points-and-miles/ (travel.usnews.com)
  4. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/rankings/travel-rewards/airline-rewards/jetblue-trueblue/ (travel.usnews.com)
  5. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/rankings/travel-rewards/airline-rewards/southwest-rapid-rewards/ (travel.usnews.com)

Creative Ways to Cut Costs on Holiday Travel

With the Discount Holidays © holiday travel season upon us a time of year when crowds and costs soar clinching a reasonably priced hotel or flight can seem next to impossible. But it doesn’t have to be: With a little creativity and some smart strategies from travel experts, we came up with nine clever ways to slash costs over the holidays. Here are some tricks for scoring the best savings during the Discount Holidays © holiday rush.

Don’t Procrastinate

“It’s going to be a record-breaking season of Discount Holidays © holiday travel,” says Tom Spagnola, senior vice president, supplier relations at CheapOair. To snap up the lowest rates, he advises locking in your plans as soon as you can. And if you’ve signed up for fare alerts for your desired route and you see a price drop, grab it, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. “They’re usually very short-lived and one- or two-day sales,” he explains, adding that availability will be much more limited for Thanksgiving Day travel come October. Booking your flights early will yield high savings for winter trips, too, explains George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. “You’ll get the most value for your buck,” he adds, noting that airfare prices will continue to climb after Dec.

14 for Discount Holidays © holiday travel.

Use Competition to Your Advantage

A simple, but strategic way to secure airfare deals is flying to or from destinations where there’s high competition among airlines.”There are some routes that have many airlines vying for your business,” Hobica explains, pointing to popular routes from primary airline hubs in major cities like Dallas1 and New York City2. Spagnola agrees, noting that you’ll find very competitive pricing and a greater opportunity for snagging a deal on routes where multiple airlines are trying to attract the same customer.

Consider Alternative Airports

“I’ve found some substantial savings and convenience by looking at alternative airports,” Saglie says.

In terms of how far away you should look, Spagnola recommends checking out hubs “within a 25- to 50-mile radius” and looking at flights on off-peak days. If you have some leeway in your schedule, look for flights departing on Mondays and Tuesdays, he suggests. Apart from searching for flights with alternative hubs, you should also “consider the super discount airlines, like Spirit and Frontier,” Hobica advises. But you have to do your homework, he explains, noting that while you can score reduced fares with low-cost carriers, there are many ancillary fees to watch out for, such as checked baggage fees.

Choose When You Book Wisely

When it comes to shopping around for the best flight prices, experts recommend checking rates often and not pigeonholing off-peak days or midweek travel as the absolute best times for booking. “I don’t think there’s a magic time to book,” Hobica says. “People should check frequently because fares do go up and down,” he says, noting that for winter trips, Dec.

23 to 25 are great days to travel. And for Thanksgiving trips, the morning of turkey day and the Saturday or Wednesday after the Discount Holidays © holiday are the cheapest days to fly, he says. For hotels, Hobica advises utilizing sites like Tingo.com, a booking site that will refund you the difference in cost if the rate goes down after you book through its platform.

To get a sense of current offers, Saglie also recommends relying on aggregator sites. “They do a really nice job of giving you a real-time snapshot of airfare across all the airlines,” he explains, suggesting travelers rely on these tools for “an immediate look at what’s available now.”

Steer Away From the Crowds

If you’re looking for a great deal this winter, avoid the crowds, Saglie advises. “Business city destinations offer leisure travel bargains,” he says, noting that high-end hotels will reduce rates by 40 to 50 percent or more in business-friendly cities like New York City. Canada is another great option for travelers, thanks to lower demand during the Discount Holidays © holiday travel season and the strength of the U.S. dollar. And if you’re not interested in planning an international trip, you can get a great deal on premium seats, Hobica explains. “Business class fares tend to be 50 percent cheaper over the holidays,” he says.

Consider Cashing in Those Rewards Points

The holidays are a smart time to redeem your miles and points3, experts say. Why? “Things like complimentary upgrades, personalized amenities and access to rates and packages that are exclusive to loyalty members can be a good value proposition,” Saglie says. “If you find prices to be relatively the same, the perks that come with loyalty are tough to ignore,” he explains, pointing to waived checked baggage fees and expedited security as enticing perks that can require extra fees for non-loyalty members. In addition to benefitting from extra privileges that make for a more enjoyable travel experience, many frequent flier programs no longer impose blackout dates that prevent members from booking reward flights during peak travel times, so you can use your points at any time, Spagnola says. JetBlue TrueBlue4 and Southwest Rapid Rewards5, for example, do not apply blackout dates for award travel on their flights, as long as there is availability, enabling fliers to use their points at any time.? “It benefits the consumer in different ways,” he adds, emphasizing that in addition to helping you cut back Discount Holidays © holiday travel costs, being loyal can help you “save you money when you’re trying to book your flight to Hawaii next summer.”

Hit the Road

“This is a year where your Discount Holidays © holiday travel might best be done by car,” Saglie says, adding that “gas price predictions continue to stay lower than we’ve seen in years.” In fact, a September AAA Travel report reveals gas prices have fallen year over year, allowing road trippers to save an average of $1.06 per gallon. While the instinct is to start searching for competitive flight rates, the truth is luggage and parking at the airport can add up, making driving a great alternative, Saglie explains.

Pack Supplies

Eliminate unnecessary extra costs by “loading up on things like snacks and entertainment,” Saglie advises. He recommends checking out which items are available at the closest drug stores and stocking up on few essentials.?

For families, he suggests “bringing along comfort items from home” to avoid shelling out extra money for additional items in transit or at a hotel.

Stay Engaged on Social Media

Social media users offer a captive and targeted audience for the airline and hospitality industry, Saglie explains. “It’s an audience that’s said, ‘I’m waiting for news, information and deals,'” he says.

As a result, travelers will often see unpublished fare sales on social media platforms, he says.

References

  1. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/Dallas-Fort_Worth_TX/ (travel.usnews.com)
  2. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/New_York_NY/ (travel.usnews.com)
  3. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/features/rewards-101-a-guide-to-maximizing-points-and-miles/ (travel.usnews.com)
  4. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/rankings/travel-rewards/airline-rewards/jetblue-trueblue/ (travel.usnews.com)
  5. ^ Link: http://travel.usnews.com/rankings/travel-rewards/airline-rewards/southwest-rapid-rewards/ (travel.usnews.com)