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New York's LaGuardia Airport -- sometimes saving money just isn't worth it.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport — sometimes saving money just isn’t worth it.

Booking airplane flights these days is one of the most confusing and potentially aggravating of all travel activities, which is why a lot of folks just leave it to travel agents.

But since I can do it myself online, I do. Just like millions of other passengers — including lots of baby boomers — I like the sense of control.

But how much control do we really have? Dotcom sites like kayak, skyscanner, priceline, hotwire, Expedia, Orbitz, CheapoAir, etc. etc. will all give you a range of prices, but they’re only good for that particular time — they can change (often drastically) day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute.

Sometimes you find a great fare only to learn a few minutes later that it’s sold out — but wouldn’t you like to book this other… Continue reading

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these from Alamy

Ryanair is not known for its comfort, but at these prices…photo from Alamy

British newspapers and travel trade publications are all abuzz with the news that the CEO of Ryanair, the cut-rate European airline, plans to offer flights to New York and Boston from  a number of European cities for prices as low as 10 euros per seat.

That’s about U.S.$13.70 by today’s exchange rates. Flights back to Europe would cost even less, about U.S.$10.

Not bad. Of course, there are some caveats.

First, Ryanair will have to buy up to 50 long-haul aircraft to make the flights worthwhile, and that could take several years.

Second, not all the seats on the plane would be that cheap. “There will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” the CEO, Michael O’Leary, told the Irish Hotels Federation in Meath, Ireland, where he made the announcement.… Continue reading

Vilnius, Lithuania -- if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via

Vilnius, Lithuania — if you leave tomorrow, you can get a great deal on a flight there via

Whenever I book a plane flight, I always turn first to the website, which displays an array of choices from a wide variety of airlines, and allows you to sort by price, airline, preferred takeoff or landing times, and flight duration.

You can also compare Kayak’s findings against different sites like Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia, so you get a pretty complete picture of what’s out there before you book. And Kayak lets you compare hotel and rental car offerings as well.

But when I went to the site yesterday, I noticed something new — at least new to me.

It’s a feature called “Explore,” which shows you “where you can go for how much.” That is, you can see the lowest fares for round-trip economy-class flights to destinations around the… Continue reading

Spaceport America -- will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Spaceport America — will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Baby boomers of a certain age may vaguely recall when a small town in southern New Mexico, then called Hot Springs due to the natural hot springs in the area, agreed to change its name in 1950 to Truth or Consequences.

Ralph Edwards, the host of a popular radio and soon-to-be TV quiz show (called, of course, Truth or Consequences) offered to broadcast the show from any town that would change its name to, you guessed it, Truth or Consequences, in honor of the show’s tenth anniversary. Edwards returned every year for decades on the anniversary, and Truth or Consequences turned the occasion into a celebration called the T or C Fiesta. (The town is now usually referred to simply as T or C by the locals).

T or C gained… Continue reading

As airlines get more crowded, annoyances get more pronounced.

As airlines get more crowded, annoyances get more pronounced.

Recently we railed against the possibility that cell phones might be allowed to be used during airplane flights, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

However, we all know of plenty of other annoyances that arise during just about any flight, ranging from people hogging the overhead bins (especially the one that’s directly above your seat) with too many carry-on bags, to passengers who recline their seats into your lap while you’re trying to eat, to crying children ignored by their parents.

Now a survey is out that ranks the annoyances in order from most annoying on down. The 2013 Airplane Etiquette Study, conducted by Northstar, surveyed 1,001 U.S. adults to find out which in-flight behaviors bugged them the most.

The dubious winner: Inattentive Parents. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they “often feel annoyed” at parents of screaming or otherwise loud… Continue reading

mericans fly across country to share this meal, creating chaos and lost change at airports.

Americans fly across country to share this meal, creating chaos and lost change at airports.

Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers!

The fourth Thursday in November is the day Americans traditionally stuff themselves with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, some kind of token green vegetable, and pumpkin pie.

It also leads to the busiest travel days of the year as families and friends reunite from the far corners of he country, usually by auto or air, resulting in traffic jams on the roads and in the sky.

With airports jammed and bad weather often leading to delays and frayed nerves, security lines and procedures enforced by the federal Transportation Security Adminstration (TSA) cause travelers — baby boomers and other generations alike — to sometimes lose their cool along with — well, the spare change they have to empty from their pockets.

According to a story in the… Continue reading

In what may be the worst potential development in flying since airlines started charging for everything from checked luggage to checkered food service, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has announced that airlines may soon be permitted to allow passengers to make cell phone calls during flights.

Please tell me that this is a nightmare from which I shall soon awake — because it may mean I’ll never get another moment’s rest on a plane (they’re hard enough to get as it is).

Just what I want to hear at 30,000 feet: the taxing trials and tribulations — or for that matter the often trivial triumphs — of the stranger seated next to me, snug as we are already in the ever-tighter, crowded cabins. With no escape.

My noise-cancelling headphones should help, but somehow cell-phone conversations seem to permeate even those. And I can’t blast music into my ears while trying… Continue reading

Frankfurt Germany's airport allows you to stash your coat while heading to southern climes.

Frankfurt Germany’s airport allows you to stash your coat while heading to southern climes.

If you’re like me, you’ve had some really bad experiences in airports.

I’m not talking about just long, slow security lines — though those can cause serious problems catching some flights — but huge distances to cover between flights without sufficient airport transportation; bad signage; lousy dining choices; airline lounges that are almost impossible to find; lack of storage facilities; escalators that don’t work or don’t exist at all, forcing passengers to lug heavy suitcases up stairways; luggage carts that require coins in currencies visitors haven’t acquired yet; lack of sufficient seating near gates (or anywhere, for that matter); baggage carousels that don’t work, stranding some bags in limbo; inadequate restroom facilities…I could go on, but you get the picture.

Sometimes when I’m having to dash between flights — such as I did a few months… Continue reading

Spirit interior cabin -- photo by Spirit Airlines

Spirit interior cabin — photo by Spirit Airlines

Interesting piece in today’s New York Times on the marketing approach employed by cut-rate Spirit Airlines. They’ve traded in customer service and comforts for low fares, and are charging extra for everything from rolling carry-on bags ($35-$50) to water ($3 a bottle) and more. Can pay toilets be far behind?

Meanwhile, Spirit’s on-time arrivals record is well below the industry average, there are no onboard movies or Wi-Fi, and seats are crammed in, offering less legroom even than the already legroom-deprived other airlines do. What’s more, the seats don’t recline – which, considering that someone reclining a seat in front of you may end up in your lap in these sardine-can conditions, may be a good thing.

So far the approach seems to be working. Spirit’s profits are growing, stock prices are up, and a fleet of new planes is planned for… Continue reading






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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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