I just completed the purchase of some airline tickets today and it got me thinking, how do Insiders determine what type of airline tickets you acquire for business and/or pleasure and what process you use?
Our tickets for the most part are for pleasure except for a couple of times a year when my Wife has a business trip. I look at all the above and then compare options while attempting to use non-stop flights when every possible. Frequently the cost of the lowest Business or First Class ticket in recent months from IAH particularly on United and American has made the most sense since the number of miles used for an upgrade plus the ticket price does not make it worth the miles plus cost. Then if you are wait listed for the upgrade who knows if you'll get it!!!
Come in Insiders, give us the process you use when buying airline tickets short haul or long haul.
I pay for 2 first class trips for my wife and I annually.
Almost always pay lowest fare and since I am Platinum Elite on AA, I get upgraded (as well as my travel partner) over 94% of my flights. Currently I am running at 33 upgrades in a row and I hope I did not just jinx myself. Sunday evening will be my 60th flight of the year - to Orlando (MCO) and plan on experiencing my first Autograph hotel.
Later this month, both my wife and I are flying the Dreamliner Business class out of ORD to/fr Shanghai...systemwide upgrades thankfully. I am spoiled with my upgrades and being a large lad, I do enjoy the extra legroom/comfort even if the old 321s and 319s are still in service.
Generally speaking I am price-conscious. I look for the best deal which is not always the lowest priced ticket.
I almost always buy a restricted fare that can't be changed after the 24-hour cancellation period. Non-stop is preferable, but because I'm not in a hub city, I'm limited in non-stop destinations. A lower fare that requires connections will get my attention, though that alone may not be enough to choose it over a non-stop fare when that is an option. On my flights to Houston in September, I could have booked non-stop with UA, but found a fare at almost half the price that required a connection. For that big a difference, I took the connecting flights (sorry UA).
I have been know to pay for upgrades on occasion, though mostly I don't. With UA Silver and AS MVP, I do sometimes get free upgrades. Currently I'm hoarding miles for future award travel (I'm thinking maybe Australia in a couple years) so I'm not using miles to purchase or upgrade. I'll admit to paying for DL Comfort+ seats to RSW (coming up in July) and FC seats on the way home (had to book separate tickets to do that). Sometimes it's worth it.
Having been seated in Premium Economy (whatever the different carriers call it) often, and FC occasionally, I'm giving more consideration to comfort than I used to. While price is still a driving factor, I'm occasionally willing to spend a bit more to get a better seat.
One other factor for me is flexibility in my destination (as part of my county seats travels). A week ago I had been considering BOS or PVD, but a deal came along to RST, so I'm going to Minnesota later this summer (New England will have to wait ). Bargain fares also lured me to DEN (last month) and ICT (next week).
I think Hawaii is calling. First/Business for sure this time (next March). It may cost a bit, but the hotels I'll do on points, so it should be manageable.
You hit it on the the head for us with the "consideration to comfort" approach. Plus on narrow body airplanes that lends itself to being one of the first off the plane which with connections is a huge benefit or when getting to be one of the first from your flight to Immigration/Customs particularly in a foreign country where Global Entry or similar is not heard of.
My choices are limited flying out of YYZ,(Air Canada, Air Canada or Air Canada) but I hoarded points for years when on business, I also mostly bought flight passes, which would almost always get upgraded and paid more points.
Now that retired, comfort is everything, sometimes I find a really good executive class seat, I will settle for premium economy, if all else fails I pay the difference for the preferred seat. I use points for long range flights and go executive.
If I am going to Chicago or somewhere like that where the flight is about an hour, I don't worry, give me the cheapest fare an, aisle seat as near the front of the bus as I can get and a Budweiser and I am happy. LAS or LAX, I want the comfort.
Good questions, all near and dear to my heart, as is flying. Generally speaking, I am comfort conscious.
Non-refundable vs. refundable
When I pay cash and when I use miles
What type of seats I purchase
Which routes - non-stop vs. connection
Which aircrafts I'll fly
The bottom line for me is comfort over cost all the way, to the extent that I can afford it. I will happily spend more on non-stops, extra legroom, and pleasant, newer aircrafts with good cabin configs, and even domestic first class if not too exorbitant. Life on Earth is short, and getting shorter by the day. Live well.
Great reply pluto77, and I that in some part us Av Geeks have helped turn yet another into an "aircraft snob" at least a little bit, I know you had to be one before!!!
You make some excellent points and another for comfort over cost convert.
I'm also loyal to American. Mostly due to my status with AA but also overall their pricing is competitive and I have not had any issues with service.
I am doing same as some others; banking miles for future travel with AA and saving Marriott points for staying. Free would be nice when my wife and I retire!!!
Sometimes, depending on price of tix and length of flight.
Prefer non-stop but have done 2-stops when necessary.
Usually non-refundable tix for me, but once bought refundable at client's request. Have paid change fees a few times.
Have never purchased first class. Have upgraded at purchase or check-in for reasonable additional cost.
Absolutely. Best use of miles ever was Easter weekend last-minute trip to Florida where tix cost $1400 in economy, and I was able to use AA miles.
When traveling for work I often have to pay full price due to timing and availability. Worst ever was $1020 for a 1 hour flight to ORD on AA in economy class. I was at the airport for a UA flight, but UA canceled my flight and couldn't get me on another one that day, and I was desperate to get to Chicago for a meeting, so on my way out of the airport, I approached an AA gate agent for a flight that was boarding to Chicago and asked if I could get on. They had 1 seat left. I took it. My client paid. This is a client who has a private jet and refuses to fly commercial, so the cost was not a problem.
clebert sounds like my paying a crazy price when on my trip back from RSW the AA flight was delayed due to weather so I'd miss my connection, ended up on a UA flight as I had to purchase the one seat left as AA and UA could not find a way to cross ticket me on UA.
IAHFLYR, I had the same problem. UA couldn't get me on AA because the AA flight actually was overbooked. But miraculously about 4-5 people didn't show up, so the standbys got on and there was still one seat left for me. So I waited at the AA gate until literally about 30 sec. before the door closed, and they swiped my card super fast and I ran down the jet bridge. The other standbys had heard my saga as we all waited, and they clapped when I got on
Consider my answers are based on the fact that my flights are almost exclusively on Southwest.
Do you seek award travel? I use my point to fly my daughter to and from school or my wife when she is not traveling with me. I typically buy my tickets using my Southwest CC so I gain enough points during the year to earn a companion pass for my wife and A-list for me.
Do you look at strictly non-stop flights or will making connections work for a lower price? I try to find nonstop if possible. On Southwest nonstop fares are typically a bit cheaper than connections, ABQ to BWI versus ABQ-DAL-BWI or DCA.
Do you purchase the lowest fare with no refund or if changed after 24 hours you pay a change fee? I always purchase the refundable fares. Southwest doesn't charge a change fee, you just pay the new fare. If its cheaper, they credit you for the difference and you have a year to use the credit. Same thing if you cancel a non-refundable ticket.
Do you purchase the lowest fare with an attempt to upgrade to Business or First Class either on a wait list or upgraded at purchase? On Southwest every seat is first class.
Do you compare the cost of using award travel as opposed to the price and distance flown? Usually not.
Do you compare the cost of using miles to upgrade as opposed to buying the< Business or First Class ticket taking into consideration the price and distance flown? See comment on SW first class.
Do you say what the heck and pay full price for your ticket regardless of what cabin you are in? No
I wish I could be committed to one company, but I generally select my flight base on the times and the cost. And though maybe I would go for a higher ticket in order to bank more miles...it may cost more ...but then my travel buddies would have a higher ticket too ...which they may not be able to afford...
Any thoughts on this system?
my first question is who is paying , second is if i am paying how likely is it i will need to change the reservation . Third question us loyalty. Since i no longer fly enough to get the top tier i never get upgraded so the loyalty moves to third. If i am paying and think it is possible i will change i book southwest to avoid change fees. It is amazing how often i do change. If i am paying i do compare fares. If i am getting reimbursed i usually look for convenience and ability to get a ticket that lets me board early and also the most direct.
Actually, even if my employer is paying, I still seek the best price because I hate wasting $$. I should run the government :-) I have never changed a reservation for professional or personal...I guess I just plan out long enough that in my mind, that is the next thing to do. My loyalty was significantly challenged Thursday night when my 2.5 hr flight with AA became an 11.5 ordeal that caused me to land in another airport and get a shuttle to my hotel at 0400hrs...ugghhhh
Price - loyal Spirit travelers. Will fly Delta, Southwest and Frontier to go where Sprit does not, but we're likely to choose destination based on Spirit's low, low prices as we're trying to travel for pleasure once a month. We have never paid Spirit for bags (love our Eddie Bauer Adventurer backpacks), seats, seat upgrades, early boarding, snacks or $9 Fare Club. And we usually sit way in the back of the plane in seats we selected 24 hours before flight. $75RT to Fort Lauderdale can't be beat! C&J