By John Skinner
In this series of articles about Internet Shopping I will be mentioning certain software and websites. As is always the case with these articles, the software and websites are mentioned because they are what I use and I find useful. The software or website may not be so useful to you, but it hopefully will give you an idea of what you may want to look for, in order for you to find suitable software or websites for you. I urge you to research to find the software and websites that are best suited for you.
Whilst writing this article I received an email from Etihad Airlines (http://www.etihad.com) advertising a flash seat sale. Such sales are worth researching as soon as they are advertised as they can give significant savings.
In this sale, a flight in April 2016, from New York to Abu Dhabi to Brisbane (I have very good friends there) and return on the same route started at USD$1165.40. A good price but I still have to fly from Bermuda to New York to take advantage of it. American Airlines (www.aa.com) quote USD$574 for that return trip. So the routing via New York will cost me about USD$1739.
British Airways (www.ba.com) were quoting $1161 for a round trip to London if I want to connect with Etihad Airways flights to Brisbane via Abu Dhabi and return. Etihad Airways were quoting £686 (about USD$1097). The routing via London will cost me about USD$2258.
Other airlines will offer different routings. For example British Airways quote USD$2583 for Bermuda – London – Hong Kong – Brisbane return. American Airlines quote USD$2323.60 for Bermuda – New York – Los Angeles – Brisbane return. There is an overnight stop required in New York on the way back.
I also researched going via Manila as I was sort of passing nearby, in case OIC Philippines had a function I wanted to attend. I found that I would have had to find another airline to fly from Manila to Brisbane.
If OIC Club were to hold a function in Bermuda, then I foresee members travelling from say Tacloban in the Philippines having similar challenges.
The prices quoted in this article were a ‘What If’ exercise for the article, but one day………
One important consideration is what are the luggage rules for each leg of your journey? What are the weights and sizes and quantity of hold and cabin luggage allowed and does it cost extra?
If you are on a tight budget another consideration is what complimentary food and drink is provided on the flight? What does the airline charge for food and drink? Can I take my own food and drink onto the aircraft? Be warned – You cannot take drink through security so you will have to buy it ‘airside’ if your airline does not provide complimentary drink.
The next consideration is will I have to pay for transportation between adjacent airports to make my connections? Also will I have to overnight in a hotel because of the time between my connections? (Bermuda Airport, like some other destinations, does not allow overnight sleeping in the airport!!).
Other considerations include is the saving made by using one routing worth the inconvenience involved? Is the extra expense of using a particular route worthwhile if it will let me visit friends and relatives during the trip? These are questions only you can answer.
Most airlines have Seat Maps of their aircraft on their websites, but SeatGuru (www.seatguru.com) not only has seat maps but comments from users. These can be useful to find the seats with restricted legroom or electrical points for laptop use. Electrical points are becoming more important as some airlines are now doing away with seat back screens and using WI-FI to feed their in flight entertainment to their passengers.
Another question could be is the extra cost of an upgrade worth it to me? What are the benefits? Increased luggage allowances? Free food and drink? Lounge access? Preferred seating? One way to decide on this question is to view video clips from the airline on YouTube (www.youtube.com). Most airlines have video clips on YouTube showing their various classes of service. There are also clips which passengers have made.
As a general rule it does not matter if the clip was not taken on your route of interest, but it is important that it was taken on an aircraft similar to the one which normally services your route. Another good source of information is Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com).
It is important that you understand some of potential risks of using multiple airlines on a trip. If one leg of your trip is delayed, and your next leg is on the same airline, then the airline will usually rebook you on the next leg at no extra charge. They may not charge you for the change if you are flying on a different airline, AND both airlines are within the same airline group or have a code share arrangement.
If you are delayed and your airlines do not have a business arrangement, you are very likely to lose the cost of your original fare and be charged a new fare to rebook your next leg. This can become quite expensive. Be sure before you finalise your booking(s) that you fully understand the terms and conditions for each leg of your journey.
I strongly recommend that you consult with an insurance agent about travel insurance to cover costs incurred caused by baggage loss and flight delays. I have taken my daughters advice (she is an insurance agent) and now have annual travel insurance with a local insurance company which covers flight cancellations and lost luggage on multiple trips per year. If you plan two or more trips during the year the savings can be worthwhile. But as I said consult with a local insurance agent.
Flying with a discount airline will save money. Maybe!! My personal preference is to consider a low cost airline for a regional trip, but a legacy airline for multi-leg intercontinental trips. The low cost airlines will charge for all sorts of things which will increase your costs. Some time ago I was researching a flight on a UK based low cost airline. Their Economy Service with a charge for hold luggage was exactly the same price as their Premium Service which included one free piece of hold luggage. Read all the conditions carefully.
Remember to read the small print before committing to a flight or series of flights and I wish you safe and enjoyable travelling.
By John Skinner