Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter Travel Tips

Flying from Central New York is always a gamble, but in winter it’s especially so. With very few non-stop flight options and smaller commuter aircrafts more prone to delays, its no wonder flying can feel like a crapshoot sometimes. Here are a few tips to improve your odds when flying in winter.

1. Book the earliest departure of the day. This is always true regardless of the weather because the plane should be ready and waiting to depart from the night before. Subsequent flights must arrive from other cities and turn around for your departure, increasing the possibility of delays.

2. Avoid booking the last flight of the day whenever possible. Unless you don’t mind spending the night at the airport, only book flights with back-up options.

3. Book sufficient layovers. Give yourself an hour or two to change planes so there’s a cushion to accommodate delays due to de-icing aircraft. Avoid 30-minute connections (regarded as ‘legal’ by the airlines) at all costs.

4. Choose your routing carefully. Avoid connecting in the snow-belt hubs if you can change planes in a warm-weather hub instead, even if it adds a little flying time to your trip. Chicago, New York and Philadelphia are much more likely to have weather delays than Washington D.C., Atlanta or Charlotte. Never, ever land in Denver during winter unless it’s your destination.

5. Choose your airline carefully if you’re on connecting flights. So-called discount airlines may only have one hub and won’t put you on another airline when there’s a problem. If that hub has weather issues, it could be DAYS (instead of hours) before you are re-accommodated.

6. Be prepared for delays. Cruisers take note: Don’t miss the boat! If you must be there, go the day before.

7. Use a travel agent. Shameless self-promotion aside, let us do the work for you. We can control your air schedule and advise which airline, connecting city, layover timing are best for your dates, and still get you the best value. An experienced player has a much better chance of beating the travel-snafu odds.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's not too late to book holiday travel!

Believe it or not, there is still some availability for holiday travel. Luxury resorts have been sending me updates almost daily with the room categories and dates they still have available. Cruises also have staterooms available for the holidays with some attractive pricing. Let someone else do all the cooking and cleaning this year so your family can enjoy a stress-free holiday together.

Remember, the gift of travel is always welcome. Gift certificates for travel services are a great way for you offer hard-to-buy-for friends and family the flexibility to plan their own getaways. Many travel agencies, hotel chains and cruise lines are offering gift certificates which can be used for future travel.

Now that snow has finally arrived to NY, it's time start making your winter travel plans. Air service has expanded to the Caribbean this year, making more islands more accessible than ever before. Many new resorts have opened, and existing resorts have upgraded their facilities. There are still some Early Booking incentives out there which may expire after the New Year.