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Subject: FAQ: How to Get Cheap Airtickets [Monthly posting]

Archive-name: cheap-airfare.text
Last-Modified: Thu Apr 9 15:23:06 1992 by Mark Kantrowitz
Version: 1.0
Size: 48520 bytes, 1118 lines

This post is a summary of useful information for air travelers. The
focus is on obtaining inexpensive air fares, although other topics are
also covered.

Please mail comments, corrections, additions, suggestions, criticisms
and other information to [email protected]

An updated version of this file is posted once a month to the
newsgroups and news.answers. The version date for the
file is located in the header near the top of the file. The list is
also available via anonymous ftp from (or any other
CMU CS machine) in the directory
/afs/ as the file airfare.text.
Note that you must cd to this directory in one command, as
intermediate directories are protected during an anonymous ftp. Of
course, if your site is running the Andrew File System, you may access
the file directly without using FTP. You can also get the file by
anonymous ftp from ( in the file
/pub/usenet/, or by sending
a mail message to "[email protected]" with the subject
"send usenet/".

;;; ********************************
;;; Copyright **********************
;;; ********************************

Copyright (c) 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992 by Mark Kantrowitz. Use and copying
of this information and preparation of derivative works based upon
this information are permitted, so long as the following conditions
are met:
o no fees or compensation are charged for use, copies or access to
this information
o this copyright notice is included intact

This information is made available AS IS, and no warranty is made
about its quality or correctness.

;;; ********************************
;;; Contents ***********************
;;; ********************************

Topics Covered:
Standard Tricks
Fare Classes
Classes of Service
Fare Types
Special Fare Categories
Flying Standby
Getting "Bumped"
Sympathy Fares, Emergencies
Advance Purchase Fares
Travel Agents
Lost Baggage
Baggage Limits
Hub Cities
Flying International: Couriers, Consolidators
Credit Card Voucher Offers
Special Meals
Airline Reservation Phone Numbers
Frequent Flyer Programs
Complaints and Compliments
Miscellaneous Notes
Other Sources of Information
Further Reading

;;; ********************************
;;; Standard Tricks ****************
;;; ********************************

Airlines give better fares to people who advance book because
they are trying to encourage people to book as early as possible. If
the airline were to lower fares just before flight time there would be
a flood of people (on random flights) at the last minute. Airlines
need an accurate estimate of the number of people and amount of
baggage on a flight so that they can load the proper amount of fuel.
(Meals and beverages also have to be loaded.)

Moreover, people who book at the last minute are usually
flying on business, and therefore the business is paying for it.
People flying for pleasure usually know weeks or months in advance,
and can't afford the prices that a business would pay. Thus it is to
an airline's advantage to set rates according to the major differences
between business and leisure travelers:
o Business travelers fly mostly between 9 and 5, whereas leisure
travelers can fly offpeak hours.
o Business travelers buy tickets on very short notice, whereas
leisure travelers plan trips well in advance.
o Business travelers do not stay over a weekend (= Saturday
night), whereas leisure travelers do.
So airlines typically give discounts for people who stay over a
weekend, flying offpeak hours, and purchasing tickets 7 days, 14 days,
21 days or 30 days in advance.

For example, "Supersaver" or "Maxsaver" fares require that you
buy your roundtrip ticket 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days in advance, and
that you stay over a weekend (Saturday night). The price is usually
the average of the two one-way tickets. (E.g., a 2-week advance
PGH/BOS advance ticket is around $200 this way.) Since a regular 1-way
ticket is so much worse, it sometimes pays to buy a round-trip ticket
and throw away the other half (if you're only going one way). If you
buy a round trip ticket and throw away the other half, make the first
leg of the trip the destination, since some airlines will cancel the
return trip if you don't show up for the first leg.

For example, a round-trip to San Francisco from Pittsburgh
with a one-night stayover is $1,333. However, the cost of a Saturday
night stayover is only $479 if you order the ticket a week or two in
advance. Purchasing two round trip tickets, one originating from Pgh
and one from SF, and then using one half of each round trip ticket
saves you $375.

Note that for many airlines the discount fares depend solely
on the date of the first leg of the trip. The price does not vary no
matter when the return flight is. You could buy a flight with one leg
in March and the return in November, and it would cost the same as if
the return was in March.

If you travel regularly to a particular destination, but don't
stay over weekends, you can get the cheaper weekend rates by
staggering your tickets. I.e., if you're flying from A to B and back
Monday and Wednesday of Week 1, and the same Week 2, instead of buying
roundtrip tickets for each week, buy a roundtrip ticket leaving A
Monday of Week 1 and returning Wednesday of Week 2, and a second
roundtrip ticket leaving B Wednesday of Week 1 and returning to B
Monday of Week 2. This works out to be precisely the same flights, but
since both tickets are over a weekend, you get the cheaper rate. The
only problem is that you have to know your schedule in advance to make
this work. Using the Pgh-SF example from above, this method would save
you $1708 on a pair of midweek round trip flights.

If you travel on offpeak hours and low volume days, the rates
are cheaper. Thus to guarrantee a low cost flight, you have to be very
flexible about where you are going, what time and day you are leaving,
and how long you want to stay.

Also important is when you make the reservation. If you make
the reservation for an offpeak flight during the peak season (say,
make a reservation for February just before Thanksgiving), you may be
charged the peak rates. After the holidays some airlines lower their
discount fares to attract customers. So you may be able to get a
better fare by making your reservation right after the holidays.

If you notice that the fare for your flight has been lowered
after you bought the ticket, try calling the airline. Sometimes they
will refund the difference between the price you paid and the lower
fare. (You may have to go to the airport to get the ticket rewritten
at the lower fare.)

;;; ********************************
;;; Fare Classes *******************
;;; ********************************

When airlines set their fares, they divide their seating into
"classes", which are based on an analysis of past passenger purchases.
Suppose you have a 100 seat airliner going from DC to SF. The rates
might break down as follows:
30 seats at $315 round trip, 30 days in advance
20 seats at $350 RT, 21 days in advance
20 seats at $375 RT, 14 days in advance
20 seats at $400 RT, 7 days in advance
10 seats at $450 RT, full fare, available until the last minute.
Now if the time has elapsed within a given price group, then the fare
will go up to the rate of the next price group. If they sell the quota
of tickets for a price group, even if the time has not elapsed, then
they can only sell you tickets at the next rate group price (which is
naturally higher). So it can pay to make your reservations way in

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that airlines
distinguish between classes of service and types of fares. A discount
ticket (fare) for first class travel (service) could, in theory, be
cheaper than an advance purchase ticket (fare) for thrift travel in
the first class compartment (service). The best way to describe it is
as a series of overlapping tiers of fares.

There are five regular classes of service: First, Business,
Standard, Coach and Thrift. Standard is practically nonexistent these
days. Fares usually drop with lower class service. For each class except
Standard there are six main types of reduced-fare tickets: discounted,
night, offpeak, weekend, advance purchase, and excursion fare.

;;; ********************************
;;; Classes of Service *************
;;; ********************************

The following chart gives some of the letters used to
designate each class of service. Note that Fn means Night/Offpeak
Coach in the First Class compartment, and Yn means Night/Offpeak Coach
in other than the First Class compartment.

First ClassFPAFn
Business ClassCJDCn
Coach EconomyYB, H, M, Q, TQn, Yn
ThriftKL, VVn, Kn
No Reservation ServiceU

Midway Airlines class Q tickets are Tuesday, Wednesday or
Saturday, except on certain blackout dates.

;;; ********************************
;;; Fare Types *********************
;;; ********************************

The following lists some of the letters used to designate
different types of fares. This is distinct from class of service.

APAdvance Purchase
EXExcursion Fare
BCapacity-controlled Excursion Fares
SWOffpeak; Saturday or Sunday
US48 contiguous states (not including alaska/hawaii)

KH Weekend
MHWeekend (Discount Fare)
MLMidweek/Offpeak (Discount Fare)
LCapacity-controlled Inventory


BCapacity-controlled Inventory
BNNight Coach
HCapacity-controlled Inventory, Coach/Night Coach

Super Coach
QHWeekend; applies Fri-Sun
QLMidweek; applies Mon-Thur

;;; ********************************
;;; Special Fare Categories ********
;;; ********************************

All airlines have special rate categories, but you have to ask
for them by name, since the agents are usually not familiar with them.
You may even have to talk to the agent's supervisor. Below is a brief
listing of different special fare categories, followed by a more in
depth discussion of standby fares.
Also, see preceding discussion of classes of service and fare
types. For example, on TWA, class K, V, YC, and M fares are the cheapest.

Children's fares:

Children under 2 years of age travel free. To be more
accurate, the child must not occupy a separate seat (sits on its
parent's lap), and must be accompanied by a fare paying adult passenger 12
years of age and over (the lap in which it sits). Additional children
under 2 are subject to regular children's fares.
Fares for children accompanied by a fare paying adult
passenger and occupying a separate seat are cheaper than fares for
unaccompanied children. Some carriers will not accept unaccompanied
children under five years of age (some 8 years, some 12). Fares for
accompanied children range from 50% to 100% of an adult fare
(1/2 fare, 2/3 fare, 3/4 fare, 80%, 90%, full fare). Fares for
unaccompanied children range from 50% of adult fare to 125% of an
adult fare (1/2 fare, 2/3 fare, 3/4 fare, full fare, 1-1/4 fare).

Clergy fares:

Clergy get ridiculously cheap standby fares on certain
airlines if they possess a certain type of "Clergy Identification

Military fares:

US military personnel traveling at their own expense on
authorized leave or pass may get signicantly cheaper fares. Discharged
military personnel must complete all travel within 7 days of discharge
date. Valid active duty US green identification card or separation
orders must be presented. USAir has a 50% military discount. Note,
however, that air force personnel can usually fly on military aircraft
on a standby basis to any air force base for $20 (e.g., Hawaii,
Boston, Florida).

Senior Citizen fares:

Certain airlines provide reduced fares for passengers 65 years
of age and older. Passengers must carry proof of age (passport, birth
certificate, driver's license or medicare card). Seats are usually limited.

Standby fares:

Flying standby can be one of the cheapest ways to travel.
Adult standby passengers are enplaned on a flight on a standby basis
subject to availability of space at departure time. This is only after
all passengers with reservations for the flight have been boarded.
Passengers from a previous flight who were bumped have priority. No
advance reservations are accepted, but get to the gate early to put
yourself first on the standby list. No stopovers are permitted on
standby fares.

Note that nonrefundable, nonchangeable tickets can often be
used for standby travel (sometimes with a slight surcharge).

Student fares:

Some airlines give discounted fares to full-time students of an
accredited school, college or university who are at least 12 years of
age. Student ID card must be carried and displayed at the request of
the carrier. Some restrict the age of the student to under some age
(e.g., 22, 26 years of age). Stopovers are not permitted, and some
require reservations at least 7 days before departure. For example,
Midway has a 10% student discount.

USAir has a 10% discount on fares for full-time students. The student
discount is combinable with supersaver fares (i.e., you get a 10%
discount above and beyond the supersaver discount). The only
restrictions are that
(1) You must be a full-time student, aged 16 through 26.
(2) You must show proof of age and student status to the
agent when making a reservation (e.g., a college ID and
driver's license)
(3) The discount is limited to domestic travel.

Students may purchase discount books of 10 tickets on the Trump (now
USAir) shuttle for $449. Delta has a similar program for their shuttle.

A variety of discounts are available if you have an International
Student Identity Card. Ask your travel agent for details on how to get
such a card and what discounts are available.

Youth fares:

Passenger must be between 12 and 22 (25 for international
travel) years of age. Seats may be limited. Tickets must be purchased
from the point of origin. Some require picture identification such as
Youth Fare identification Card, birth certificate, government ID card
or drivers license. Southwest gives the offpeak rate for *all* flights
for youth (21 & under), although this is still more expensive than
their supersaver fares.

Family fares:

Some carriers offer discounts on family travel. For the
purposes of the discounts, a family is defined as a husband and wife
with or without accompanying children age 2-17, or one parent with one
or more accompanying children age 2-17. Age restrictions on children
differ from airline to airline (some set the maximum age at 20 or 21
years; and some break children into two classes, 12 & under and
12-21). Some include legal guardian and grandparents within the
definition of parent. It is usually not necessary for the family to
travel under a common surname. Proof of family relationship must be
established to the satisfaction of the carrier and all family members
must travel together for the entire trip. Fares are typically 100% for
first family member, 50% each additional. Some have further discounts.

;;; ********************************
;;; Flying Standby *****************
;;; ********************************

On the other hand, an empty seat doesn't earn the airline any
money. So some airlines offer what is called "standby tickets". Using
such a ticket you are NOT guarranteed a seat on a particular flight,
but on the next flight with empty seats. If there are available seats,
flying standby can be much cheaper. If it is a busy day and the
flights are full, you may have to wait several hours to get a seat, or
maybe not get a seat at all. Don't fly standby on the day before
Thanksgiving or the Sunday after, you won't get a seat. On
Thanksgiving day itself, you're likely to find a seat. A standby
ticket does not guarrantee you a seat, but if you do not absolutely,
positively have to be there tomorrow, you can get some good deals.
[Days which are bad for standby seats are usually good days for
getting bumped.]

Note that even if every seat isn't taken, an airline sometimes
won't accept standby passengers because it might mean having to unload
fuel to change the weight distribution of the aircraft.

If you're on a later flight but get to the airport early,
check with the attendant at the gate. You may be able to get on the
earlier flight is there's space available (but this may result in your
getting no "snack"). This works even for "non-changeable" tickets.

One way to "ensure" the availability of standby seats is for
the agent or the passenger to make a large number of regular
reservations, and then an hour before the flight release the block of
seats, virtually ensuring that standby passengers will get aboard at
cheap standby fares. Travel agents don't do this very frequently,
since the airlines don't appreciate it. This probably doesn't do you
any good with the way airlines overbook flights. [And causes a lot of
bad will with the airlines. If people start doing this frequently,
airlines will probably eliminate standby fars.]

When flying standby, make sure you get to the gate EARLY. If
several people are flying standby, you want to make sure that your
name is first on the list. Note that connecting passengers, bumped
passengers, etc., get priority over local boarding standbys. On really
busy days it might pay to show up early for the *first* flight of the
day, since standbys who don't make it will "roll over" to the next

;;; ********************************
;;; Getting "Bumped" ***************
;;; ********************************

Airlines tend to overbook their flights in case of no-shows.
Occasionally this will mean that more people show up with confirmed
reservations than there are seats on the plane. (Or if the flight is a
particularly full one, it may exceed the weight limit even with empty
seats.) The airline will ask if there's anyone willing to be bumped
from the flight in exchange for compensation (e.g., USAir will give
you a free round-trip ticket anywhere they fly). The airline will then
put you on the next available flight to your destination, along with
your free ticket.

So another way to reduce the cost of flying is to purchase a
confirmed reservation for 9 am or 5/6 pm on a weekday. These are the
times most businessmen fly (trying to make early morning meetings or
to get home for dinner in the evening), and hence when the airline is
most likely to be overbooked. Airlines are also likely to be
overbooked on Sunday nights and the beginning and end of holidays,
since that is when non-businessmen typically fly. Receiving a free
roundtrip ticket effectively cuts your air travel costs in half. And
if you get bumped while using a previous free bump ticket, it gets
even cheaper.

If you have a confirmed reservation, and you notice the flight
is overbooked and you DON'T want to be bumped, try being the last
person on line. If you are lucky the coach and business class will be
full, and they will have to upgrade you to first class at no charge.
(Also, having a pre-issued boarding pass will decrease your chances of
an involuntary bump.)

It always pays to volunteer to be bumped, even if the flight
isn't overbooked. If the airline needs adjacent seating for a family,
they will sometimes bump you into first class if you are in a row by

If you definitely want to be bumped, volunteer when you check
in and again at the gate. This will give you priority if there are
only a few bumps.

Good days to get bumped include: Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Sunday
after; couple days before and after Christmas; ditto with New Years.
Friday afternoons, evenings, and Sunday afternoons and evenings also
bump a lot.

If the airline still has plenty of coach seats a day or so
before the flight, it is unlikely that they will bump.

Here's what some airlines usually give volunteers:
Continental, Delta, United, USAir: Open roundtrip

American, America West, Southwest: $$ off another
ticket (usually $150 to $300; American has been known
to go as high as $1000.) Dollar-denominated vouchers
are not subject to tax, so they stretch further. Amounts
depend on the degree of overbooking of the flight. United
sometimes will also issue a dollar-denominated voucher.

United bumps more than average, Delta less.

Northwest bump tickets are non-transferrable.

If you get bumped or your flight is canceled and need to stay at a
hotel overnight, hotels near the airport will often give you
a substantial discount if you ask for it (50% discount is not unheard of).

Under Department of Transportation rules, an involuntarily bumped
traveler who is delayed more than one hour but less than two on a
domestic flight is entitled to $200 or 100 percent of the one-way
fare, whichever is less (the airline must also honor the original
ticket). For delays longer than two hours, the compensation doubles.
Airlines can offer you a travel voucher (for a free domestic
round-trip ticket) in lieu of cash, but must give you the cash if
that's what you want. Airlines like bumped volunteers because free
travel costs them less than the cash compensation they're required to
offer involuntarily bumped passengers. (If the involuntarily bumped
passengers are put on a flight which brings them to their destination
within an hour of the original flight time, the airline has met its
requirement.) Anything more is strictly the policy of the airline,
which is stated in its Conditions of Carriage statement. (To obtain
this statement, get it either from your travel agent or by writing to
the customer affairs office of your airline. Be sure to ask for the
full copy of the conditions; otherwise they'll give you just a three
page summary of the limitations of liability sections.)

There are no rules governing compensation for volunteers -- airlines
can offer as little or as much as it takes to bid you off the flight.
Delta restricts reservations using volunteer bumped vouchers
to two days in advance.

Re-booking: Most volunteers are routinely booked on another flight
within a few hours, but re-routing isn't a legal requirement. Before
giving up your seat, ask when the next flight leaves, whether you'll
have a confirmed or standby reservation and (if the flight is with
another carrier) whether you'll have to pay additional fare.
Negotiating: Most airline managers can escalate compensation offers in
an attempt to get enough volunteers. So you might get a better deal by
simply asking for one. American Airlines, which has the lowest rate of
involuntary bumpees in the industry, tends to be the most generous
with compensation for volunteers.

;;; ********************************
;;; Sympathy Fares, Emergencies ****
;;; ********************************

If you have to go to a funeral, most airlines will give you
50% off of the discounted rate, at very short notice. They call this
the sympathy fare. Similarly for a medical emergency. For example,
Continental will waive advance purchase requirements for cheap fares
for an emergency. This is their bereavement rate for people who have
to attend funerals. Other airlines that do this are United and USAir
("compassionate fare"). This is a tradition carried over from the
"funeral fare" of the railroad days. Airlines do this because it is
simply good PR, and doesn't cost them all that much.

In any case you have to ask and sometimes be persistent as these are

nonstandard and not widely publicized policies. Many low level airline
workers are not aware of them or do not have the authority to allow them.

United "Rule 120" describes the rules governing sympathy fares.

;;; ********************************
;;; Refunds ************************
;;; ********************************

In the same vein, many airlines will refund a ticket, even a
nonrefundable one, for good cause. Medical emergencies, jury duty, and
a death in the family generally qualify as a good cause for not using
a ticket. Some sort of proof must be provided (death certiicate, note
from doctor), and it is completely up to the airline as to whether or
not the particular instance warrants a refund. Some airlines may issue
a new ticket or provide a flight credit voucher instead of offering a

A useful trick for normal circumstances: When they ask for
your name for printing on the ticket, use your first initial instead
of your full first name. Thus if you can't use your "non-transferrable
non-refundable" ticket, your spouse or some other member of your
family might be able to.

Another trick is to have your travel agent talk to the
airline, assuming you used him to purchase the ticket. Sometimes they
will be able to swing a deal.

Nontransferable tickets may still be useable by other people
in your organization, if the address listed on the ticket was your
business address.

;;; ********************************
;;; Advance Purchase Fares *********
;;; ********************************

Typically, tickets must be purchased 4, 7, 14, 21, or 30 days
in advance of the departure date. All require confirmed reservations.
Seats are always limited. Most do not permit changes/cancellations,
and those that do will usually charge you.

Some require a roundtrip ticket, though there are some that
give lower rates for one-way tickets. Most do not permit open-jaw
travel (most require circle-trip for excursion fares). Some permit
stopovers, and may or may not charge you for the privilege (typically
$15-30 per stopover). Fares are often seasonal.

For those that have a minimum and maximum stay period (e.g.,
stay over the weekend, must return 150 days after departure), the day
of departure is not included as part of the minimum and maximum stay period.

Children's rates are usually discounted against the applicable
fare. As usual, children must carry proof of age.

Note that fares are almost always not applicable to/from
intermediate points. This means a ticket from Boston to Chicago
passing through Pittsburgh could be cheaper than a ticket from Boston
to Pittsburgh!

;;; ********************************
;;; Travel Agents ******************
;;; ********************************

It pays to use a travel agent only if you know a *good* one. A
good travel agent will know when a small change in your schedule can
save you a lot of money. If you buy direct from the airline, you may
not find out such information, since they will only quote you the
rates for the times you ask. So if you're going to use a travel agent,
make sure that you find one who is willing (and able) to search
through the morass of fares and restrictions to find a good deal for
you. A travel agent who just punches your data into the computer and
tells you the prices is no better than the airline's 800 number. A
good travel agent can probably save you about 10-15%.
[Actually, if the airline goes bankrupt between ticket purchase and
flight time, and you bought your ticket from a travel agent, you get a
refund. Better yet, buy your airtickets with a credit card, and the
federal credit protection act will allow you to get a refund from your
credit card company.]

Also, airlines sometimes sell bulk tickets to large travel
agencies at bargain basement prices if they think they cannot fill the
seats. So depending on the travel agency, you might be able to get a
really good deal. Travel agents sometimes get complimentary tickets
(e.g., one free ticket for every 25 sold), which they can sell as they
wish. (These are called "Promotional Tickets" and are for standby travel.)

But then again, travel agents get a commission on air tickets
and hotels. The commission is a fixed percentage of the fare (if you
order direct from the airline, the airline pockets the difference). So
the agent can earn more money by selling you a more expensive ticket.
So be cautious when using a travel agent. Look over the agent's
shoulder and see if they're overlooking a really cheap flight.

Since discount flights have restrictions on day of week and
flight times, make sure that you let the travel agent know that you
are flexible and will change a day either way if that will save you money.

Airport ticket agents tend to be better informed than the
people at the toll-free reservation number, since they often have to
deal with special situations (missed connections, bumped people, etc.)
that require really knowing the reservation system's ins and outs.

But beware. Airport ticket agents are not beyond lying.

;;; ********************************
;;; Pets ***************************
;;; ********************************

If you are travelling with a dog, you must say so when you
make your reservation. All airlines will allow at most one dog in the
presurized portion of the cabin (to prevent barking fights). The dog
must be in a travel cage and sedated. (If the dog is small, try to get
a cage which fits under the seat, so you can keep watch on the pet.
Otherwise, you won't see the dog until the flight is over.) Some
airlines will charge you extra (~$20) for the dog. I don't know about

America West and Southwest do not take pets. (Southwest will
take seeing-eye dogs. I believe all airlines are required to allow
seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs to accompany their blind/deaf masters
on flights.)

AA, UA and US all take dogs. AA and US charge $30. UA charges
$50. (Small dogs.)

All carriers require a recent (10 days old or less) veterinary
certificate of health, but rarely look at it.
All airlines embargo pets if the outside temperature is in the
90's (or perhaps even 80's). AA won't carry a pet if the temperature
is less than 45F (enforcement of this rule is uneven). UA says they
won't handle pets when it is -10F. US says they always handle pets
except on certain commuter flights.

US allows you to bring your pet out to the gate and have it
boarded just before you get on the plane. AA sometimes will, but
usually won't, allow this.
Airlines require that the dog be given a tranquilizer supplied
by your vet.

;;; ********************************
;;; Lost Baggage *******************
;;; ********************************

The domestic baggage liability limit is a minimum of $1250.00 per
passenger. Some airlines may provide greater limits for
checked/unchecked baggage. For international flights, the baggage
liability limit is approximately $9.07 per pound ($20 per kilogram)
for checked baggage and $400 per passenger for unchecked baggage. A
minimum waiting period of one week is required before baggage can be
declared lost.

Airlines will not reimburse for currency, photographic or electronic
equipment, rare and expensive jewelry or artistic works, or
medication, unless prior arrangements were made (e.g., excess valuation
insurance was purchased). Some credit cards will cover these items if
the tickets were purchased with the card.

;;; ********************************
;;; Baggage Limits *****************
;;; ********************************

Checked baggage weight/size/number limits vary depending on the airline,
the class of fare, and the country of origin. Typically one is limited
to 2 pieces of checked baggage (excluding luggage carriers), each of
which has a total length + width + height less than 60" (or 72") and
weighs less than 70 pounds (32 kg).

Unchecked baggage is usually limited to 2 bags, which must fit under
the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. Purses,
cameras, coats, and similar items are usually excluded from the limit.
Garment bags are also often excluded, especially for first class
customers. Sometimes the limit will be reduced to 1 bag, especially on
very full flights.

Oversize articles (e.g., skis, bicycles, moose heads) must be checked.

;;; ********************************
;;; Hub Cities *********************
;;; ********************************

Try to avoid hub cities. For example, since USAir's hub is
Pittsburgh, they have a virtual monopoly on flights to PGH, so if
you're so unlucky as to be flying to Pittsburgh, the rates are not cheap.
Occasionally you may be able to take a flight which makes a stop or
connection at Pittsburgh, and walk off the plane in Pittsburgh (i.e.,
a ticket from Boston to Cleveland on a plane which makes a stop in
Pittsburgh might be cheaper than a ticket from Boston to Pittsburgh on
the same plane). This only works when you can carry on all of your
baggage. (Or if your connecting flight is more than two hours after
your flight arrives or on a different plane, you can usually arrange
to claim your baggage at the hub and recheck it yourself. 8*) Several
airlines are currently being investigated by the justice department
for anti-trust violations based on their dominating the airports at
their hubs.

Here's a list of airline hub cities. I've asterisked those
that I'm sure are monopolized by that airline. # indicates the main
hub of the airline.
Alaska Airlines (AS): Anchorage (ANC)#, SEA
America West (HP): Phoenix (PHX)#, Las Vega$ (LAS)
American Airlines (AA): Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW)#, Raleigh/Durham (RDU)*, SJC,
Continental Airlines (CO): Newark (EWR)#, Cleveland (CLE)*, IAH, DEN, MSY
Delta Airlines (DL): Atlanta (ATL)#, Salt Lake City (SLC)*, DFW, CVG, LAX, OR
Eastern Airlines (EA): Atlanta#, SJU, ATL, MIA
Midway Airlines (ML): MDW
Midwest Express (YX): MKE
Northwest Airlines (NW): Minneaplois (MSP)#, Milwaukee (MKE)*, Memphis (MEM)*
PanAm (PA): New York (JFK), MIA
Southwest Airlines (WN): Dallas Love (DAL), Houston Hobby (HOU), PHX, ABQ
Trump Shuttle (TB): LGA
TWA (TW): St. Louis (STL)*#, New York (JFK)
USAir (US): Pittsburgh (PIT)*#, Philadelphia (PHL), Charlotte (CLT)*, Baltimo
United Airlines (UA): Chicago#, DEN, Washington Dulles (IAD), SEA, SFO, Ralei

British: London
AirFrance: Paris
SIA: Singapore

Airport Abbreviations and Hubs:

ABQ Albuquerque, NMWN
ANC Anchorage, ALAS
ATL Atlanta, GADL EA
BNA Nashville, TNAA
BOS Boston, MANW
BWI Baltimore, MDUS
CLE Cleveland, OHCO
CLT Charlotte, NCUS
CVG Cincinatti, OHDL
DAL Dallas (Love Field), TXWN
DAY Dayton, OHUS
DFW Dallas/Ft. Worth, TXAA DL
DTW Detroit, MINW
EWR Newark, NJCO
HOU Houston (Hobby), TXWN
IAD Washington (Dulles), DCUA
IAH Houston (Intercontinental), TXCO
IND Indianapolis, INUS
JFK New York (Kennedy), NYPA TW
LAS Las Vega$HP
LAX Los AngelesDL US
LGA New York, NYTB
MDW Chicago, ILML
MEM Memphis, TNNW
MKE Milwaukee, WINW YX
MSP Minneapolis/St. Paul, MNNW
MSY New Orleans, LACO
ORD Chicago, ILAA UA
ORL Orlando, FLDL
PHL Philadelphia, PAUS
PHX Phoenix, AZHP WN
PIT Pittsburgh, PAUS
RDU Raleigh/Durham, NCAA
SEA Seattle, WAAS UA
SFO San Francisco, CAUA US
SJC San Jose, CAAA
SLC Salt Lake City, UTDL
STL St. Louis, MOTW
SYR Syracuse, NYUS

AAAmerican Airlines
ASAlaska Airlines
COContinental Airlines
DLDelta Airlines
EAEastern Airlines
HPAmerica West Airlines
MLMidway Airlines
NWNorthwest Airlines
PAPan American World Airways
TBThe Trump Shuttle
TWTrans World Airlines
UAUnited Airlines
WNSouthwest Airlines
YXMidwest Express

;;; ********************************
;;; Flying International: **
;;; Couriers, Consolidators **
;;; ********************************

One way of getting cheap international flights is to fly as a
freelance courier. There are a few companies which will pay you for
the right to use your baggage allowance. Non-refundable, and usually
very short notice -- 1-2 weeks. You do not deal with the baggage,
other than to hand-carry a set of paperwork. You are allowed a
carry-on. For example, the following courier company will let you fly
as a courier to Israel (TelAviv) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday, round trip, for $525: Dworkin Cosell, (212) 213-0036. Other
couriers include: Now Voyager NY 212-431-1616, Halbart NY
718-995-7019, IBC NY 718-262-8058, TNT NY 516-338-4180.

Two books about flying as a courier include:
o The Air Courier's Handbook, $9.95
Big City Books, PO Box 19667, Sacramento, CA 95819
o A Simple Guide to Courier Travel, $15.95
Guide Books, PO Box 2394, Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Also, ticket consolidators (wholesalers, ``bucket shops'') are
often 30-40% cheaper than buying direct from the airline. They buy
blocks of unsold seats from the airlines and resell them at a slim
margin. Such tickets are usually heavily restricted and are for a
standard profile (e.g., no special meals, no changes, no transfers, no
refunds). The Sunday NY Times travel section has a list of
wholesalers. For example, Nippon Travel 800-662-6236.

AirHitch (212-864-2000) is a consolidator which buys unsold
seats very close to the wire. Their customers provide a window of
times (or destinations), and AirHitch lets them know about available
flights on extremely short notice. Not for the faint of heart.

;;; ********************************
;;; Credit Card Voucher Offers *****
;;; ********************************

Several credit card companies offer vouchers for cheap airline travel
as an incentive to enroll students.

1. American Express.
Students who apply for the standard green card ($55/year) will
receive four vouchers if approved. If you travel within the
same zone the price is $129/ticket roundtrip; cross-zone travel
is $189/ticket roundtrip (Mississippi is the dividing line).
(The prices are $10 extra in the summer, and one of the vouchers is
good for two tickets at $189 each.) There are some restrictions on
destinations and some blackout dates. The vouchers expire 1 year
after issue and are not transferrable (and the airlines do check
your student id both at the ticket counter and at the gate). You
must purchase your tickets with the AmEx card. The stay is for a
maximum of 6 nights and must be over a Saturday night.

To work around the non-transferrable restriction, use your first
initial instead of your first name, and (if female) ask to have
your maiden (alternately, married) name on the ticket (which
allows you to substitute an arbitrary last name, if you're not
bothered by the sleaziness).

Although the current AmEx tickets are for travel on Continental
Airlines, USAir will honor them for travel on USAir. Give the
following promotion code to the travel agent when using the
AmEx/Continental vouchers for travel on USAir:
USAir seems less likely than Continental to check for student id.
In general, USAir seems to accept coupons from almost any other airline.

If you are a student, have an AmEx card and haven't received the
vouchers, call the 800 number (1-800-582-5823) and they'll send
them out to your billing address.

2. Chase Manhattan VISA
Same cost structure as the AmEx/Continental vouchers, but for
travel on USAir. Maximum stay of 60 days (Saturday stay not
required). Tickets must be purchased within 48 hours of reservation.
Valid student id must be presented at time of ticketing.
Blackout dates around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and some
destination-specific days.

;;; ********************************
;;; Special Meals ******************
;;; ********************************

Most of the major airlines will provide alternate meals on meal-flights
upon request, if the request is made 24 hours in advance. Special
meals include: Kosher, Moslim, Hindu, vegetarian, low-fat, low-salt,
diabetic, low-glutin, and seafood. Simply ask for the meal when you
make your reservation; there is no extra charge.

The Kosher meals are glatt and double-sealed. Wilton Caterers is the
largest supplier of these meals, although there are a number of
smaller companies as well.

If you will be having a special meal, be sure to let the flight
attendant know as you entire the plane. Airlines sometime forget to
load the meal (especially kosher), and if you let the flight attendant
know, they can sometimes catch this.

;;; ********************************
;;; Airline Reservation Phone Numbers
;;; ********************************

Air Canada1-800-776-3000
Alaska Airlines1-800-426-0333, [1-602-921-3100]
American 1-800-433-7300, 1-800-223-5436, [1-817-267-1151]
America West1-800-247-5692, [1-602-693-0737]
British Airways1-800-247-9297
Canadian Partners1-800-426-7000
Continental1-800-525-0280 (Dom), 1-800-231-0856 (Itl)
Delta1-800-221-1212, [1-404-765-5000]
Northwest1-800-225-2525, [1-612-726-1234]
TWA1-800-221-2000, [1-404-522-5738]
United1-800-241-6522, [1-312-825-2525]
USAir1-800-428-4322, [1-412-922-7500]

;;; ********************************
;;; Frequent Flyer Programs ********
;;; ********************************

Most programs will give you a free domestic roundtrip for 20,000
miles. Given joining bonuses and mileage promotions, one can often
reach this with one overseas flight.

Air Canada1-800-361-8523
Partners with Austrian, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, First Air,
Alaska Airlines1-800-654-5669
Partners with Northwest, TWA
Aloha Airlines1-800-486-7277
AAdvantage (American)1-800-882-8880
Partners with TWA, Cathay Pacific, Singapore
America West1-800-247-5691
Partners with Air France, Virgin Atlantic
Partners with Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa
Partners with Air Canada, Japan Air Lines, Singapore, Swissair
Midwest Express 1-800-452-2022
Northwest 1-800-435-9696
TWA 1-800-325-4815, 1-800-221-2000
Partners with American, Alaska, Air India, British Airways
USAir1-800-428-4322, 1-800-872-4738

;;; ********************************
;;; Complaints and Compliments *****
;;; ********************************

If you have a legitimate complaint about service, write a
well-written letter to the appropriate people at the airline. This can
often result in real results. But don't become a habitual complainer.
Many airline customer service departments keep records of all
complaints and compliments. If you complain too often, you'll get
tagged as a flamer, and they'll ignore future complaints. If you are a
frequent flyer and don't complain often, complaints can end up in
travel discount compensation.

Airlines do keep track of who complains and how frequently, so if you
complain too often about trivial matters, your complaints won't have
the same effect as they would if you complained about only important
problems. Keep track of the names of all airline personnel you deal
with, and be as specific as possible about dates, times, places, and
flight numbers in your letter. Enclose copies of any receipts for
expenses incurred because of missed/delayed flights.

The Department of Transportation accepts consumer complaints
about airlines and records, compiles, and publishes statistics on
airline performance. The statistics are available in a monthly Air
Travel Consumer Report. For a free copy, write to the Office of
Consumer Affairs, US Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, NW,
Room 10405, Washington, DC 20590. 202-366-2220.
Best -- America West Airlines 84.8%
Worst -- Delta 74.3%
Best -- American 89 involuntary bumps/19 million passengers
Worst -- America West 1,805/3.7 million
Mishandled baggage:
Best -- Southwest
Worst -- America West

Customer Relations Departments of various airlines:
Aloha Airlines Inc., Customer Relations, PO Box 30028, Honolulu, HI 96820.
Alaska Airlines, Consumer Affairs, PO Box 68900, Seattle, WA 98168.
America West Airlines, Consumer Affairs, 222 South Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281.
Continental Airlines, Customer Relations, PO Box 4607, Houston, TX 77210-4607.
Delta Air Lines Inc., Law Dept, Hartsfield Atlanta Int Airport, Atlanta, GA 3032
Eastern Air Lines Inc., Consumer Affairs, Bldg 11, Rm 1433, Miami Int Airport, M
Hawaiian Airlines, Consumer Affairs, Honolulu Intl Airport, PO Box 30008, Honolu
Midway Airlines, Consumer Affairs, 5959 South Cicero Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638.
Northwest Airlines, Consumer Affairs, Minneapolis/St. Paul Intl Airport, St. Pau
Pan American World Airways Inc., Consumer Affairs Dept, 200 Park Avenue, New Yor
Southwest Airlines Co., Customer Relations, PO Box 37611, Love Field, Dallas, TX
Trans World Airlines Inc., Customer Relations, 605 Third Ave., New York, 10158.
United Airlines, Customer Relations, PO Box 66100, Chicago, IL 60666.
USAir, Consumer Relations, Washington National Airport, Washington, DC 20001.

;;; ********************************
;;; Glossary ***********************
;;; ********************************

Eaasy Sabare is the American Ailines reservation System. It can be
accessed via Prodigy, Compu$erve, or GENIE for an additional fee.

;;; ********************************
;;; Miscellaneous Notes ************
;;; ********************************

The largest travel agency in the US is Thomas Cook Travel.

Keep in mind that ticket agents and gate attendants are
people, and if you're nice to them, they may be able to bend the rules.

Seat assignment on most airlines starts 3 weeks in advance of the
flight. No seat assignments on Southwest and shuttle flights.

Non-refundable, non-changeable, non-transferable tickets are
the default; you might have to pay more to have a transferable ticket.
But then you might be able to sell half your ticket, and thereby
recoup some of your costs.

Bargain seats are almost always limited, so start looking
early and be flexible with your times and dates.

January, February, September and October are the slack travel
months; ticket prices will be cheapest around then.

Because of the way airlines price tickets, it is sometimes
cheaper to buy a ticket from point A to point C making a mid-trip stop
in point B (i.e., two tickets AC and CB) that it is to buy a ticket
direct from point A to point B. Note, however, that if you do this
your luggage should be carryons, since the airline usually checks the
luggage direct to the ultimate destination. Also, some airlines will
cancel your entire ticket if you skip one leg of the trip.

Airports notorious for heavy traffic and air-traffic-control
snafus: Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, Logan Airport in Boston, O'Hare
in Chicago, Stapleton in Denver, JFK in New York, and San Francisco

;;; ********************************
;;; Other Sources of Information ***
;;; ********************************

The best source of information is the US Department of
Transportation. All carriers must file their fares with them for
tariff purposes.

A variety of companies publish rate guides based on the US
Department of Transportation files. The subscription prices are a bit
steep, but your library may have some.

;;; ********************************
;;; Further Reading ****************
;;; ********************************

Best Fares Magazine (consumer edition):
Best Fares, Inc.
1111 W. Arkansas Lane, Suite C
Arlington, TX 76013

Travel Secrets:
Box 2325
New York, NY 10108

Travel Unlimited:
Box 1058
Allston, MA 02134

Official Airline Guide, Pocket Edition:

;;; *EOF*

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