Why airlines overbook flights?

It comes to no surprise that the public is at an uproar with the recent United passenger who was removed from a flight due to overbooking. What are your rights as a passenger when it comes to an overbooked flight?

Why do Airlines Overbook flights?

Overbooking is a common practice for airlines designed to ensure every plane departs at full capacity. It may sound counterintuitive, the practice of selling more tickets on an airplane than there are seats benefits both airlines and passengers. Based on years of statistical data and algorithms to compensate for “no-shows”, airlines continue to overbook flights to maximize their profits. It may be a passenger’s worse nightmare however overbooking is a perfectly legal practice. Although overbooking is common, the number of passengers who are denied boarding is small.

While the airlines maximize profits, passengers enjoy an array of flexibility due to overbooking such as moving their travel dates after purchase or in situations when a customer misses their flight, still having an opportunity to arrive at their destination. Overbooking also allows the airlines to keep flight costs low.

Know Your Rights

Although overbooking is legal, as a paying customer you should know your rights if you are ever bumped from your flight. In the event, you are in an overbook flight situation, a gate agent will proactively look for volunteers to move to a later flight often lined with travel vouchers or other types of compensation. Compensation such as free meals, free upgrades or admission into their swanky airport lounges help sweeten the pot too. If the airline cannot clear enough seats, the pay-off will generally increase as the flight nears take-off eventually capping off at $1,350 per person.

Most passenger are unaware that they enter in a legal contract each time they purchase an airline ticket. A passenger’s rights are defined in the Contract of Carriage which clearly outlines the legal expectations of the passenger and the airlines. Under contract each passenger agrees that their flight may be overbooked and can be involuntarily denied boarding based on the airlines discretion only after a reasonable amount of compensation has not been accepted. In an event, there are more passengers than seats, an airline is legally able to involuntarily deny boarding or remove passengers.

What to Do if you are on an Overbooked Flight

If you are sitting at your gate and hear your flight is overbooked you will have to think about which options benefits you the most. You will need to ask yourself how important it is for you to arrive at your destination on how much you are willing to be compensated.

In most cases, there will be enough volunteers who are willing to accept travel vouchers in which you will remain on your flight. If there are not enough volunteers, any passengers who are denied boarding will then be compensated for missing their flight which can constitute a higher pay off.

So which airlines should I take?

GOOD: Hawaiian , Delta and Virgin America
BAD: Alaska, United, Spirit and Frontier
WORSE: American, jetBlue and Southwest

Travel now before you miss the golden age of travel

by: Alvin Adriano, ACC, CTA

Traveling has become easier for everyone within the last 8 months and the trends continue to show that this is the golden age of travel. With comparisons from year to year, 2017 is set to break record lows in affordability, increase customer satisfaction and consistent on-time departure and arrivals. It doesn’t matter if you are flying domestic or internationally, there has never been a better time to book a trip and escape from your normal routine and experience the world.

Since 1970, after the deregulation of the airline industry, prices for flying has steadily fallen, allowing passengers to enjoy affordable prices to almost anywhere in the world. Economy prices have reached the lowest margin in three years and continue to set records. Last month, United and American Airlines introduced there “basic economy” fares which allow even more reduced rates to compete against ultra-low fare carriers such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.

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Even in the international sector, airlines such as Emirates and Etihad Airlines continue to add new routes, connecting more destinations and has allowed easier accessibility with numerous hubs and itineraries to choose from. With a variety of choices, passengers now have a lot more flexibility which will keep prices low.

Three years ago, roundtrip tickets to Manila ranged between $900-$1100 per person with only 3-4 carriers to choose from. Today you can buy the same ticket for less than $700 with numerous airlines with far better connection times and routing.

In addition to lower pricing, the overall experience before and during the flight has greatly improved. Technology has vastly improved the experience and has allowed passengers the to view flight status, receive real time notifications for delays and cancellations and receive their tickets via email or text. Long gone are the days of paper tickets, teletext and inefficient practices that made travel so drawn out and frustrating. Paperwork is the thing of the past and today’s passenger are so well equipped that all their travel documents can be stored on their electronic devices or a cloud-based app.

What about the in-flight experience? My brother-in-law recently took his first international flight to Manila and was so amazed with the number of amenities onboard that he stayed up for the entire flight watching movies, connecting to the Internet and playing games. On Delta Airlines, you can enjoy Wi-Fi and check your email, post your trip on Facebook and play online games while soaring above at 30,000 feet. Staying connected is an important benefit these days and you can enjoy access for 24 hours for only $28.00 per pass.

And lastly, the ease of travel has become even easier with more countries participating in transit programs allowing passengers to avoid purchasing an expensive visa to enter. China now offers a 72-hour visa free transit in eighteen cities for passengers with passports of 51 countries to stay without a visa on direct transit. More and more countries are adopting visa-free policies to increase tourism and drive growth.

Traveling the world can lead to new passions and will broaden a person’s perspective. It is the quickest way to break down perceived barriers between cultures, beliefs and ideas. This year instead of settling for material possessions, budget a trip to explore the world which you can treasure your experience forever.

 

FLIGHT REVIEW: American Airlines (777-300) Economy Class from Dallas to Hong Kong

It can be quite expensive traveling internationally and although we all loathe to spend our hours in First Class, or even Business – the truth of the matter is that most of us will have to settle for Economy Class fares. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with traveling in the Main Cabin, and many airlines have improved amenities, seat size and of course entertainment and food to lure passengers on their planes. On my recent trip to Asia, I decided to try out American Airlines brand new 777-300 and share my reviews with you all.

Since the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, the American Corporation has been quietly improving their airplanes, expanding their destinations, while fine tuning their domestic operations and transitioning into the World’s Largest Airlines. I was very impressed with the new changes and attention that American has concentrated on such as the inflight entertainment, overall flight experience and the quality of food and snacks while in the air.

DALLAS/FORT WORTH (DFW)

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is one of American’s busiest hubs in the West with 84 percent from domestic flights and 13 percent coming from international connections to Asia. From Dallas, Fort Worth you could connect on American to Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and Japan, however only Hong Kong uses the new 777-300. American flies a non-stop flight from Dallas to Hong

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The Boeing 777-300 can hold up to 310 passengers which consists of 8 First Class (flat bed seats), 52 Business Class (flat bed seats), 48 Premium Economy Class (standard) and 202 Main Cabin (standard) seats.

Here’s the American Airlines 777-300 Economy class seatmap, via SeatGuru.

When you first board the plane, you can feel the different atmosphere with contemporary style decor and modern furnishings. As I continued to my seat, I was astonished to find the newly improved and interactive monitor behind every seat. I love catching up on movies and sitcoms, and I already knew this was going to be a pleasant experience. Also, I quickly realize that American had also focused on allowing passengers more options for connectivity with ease to find ac plugs, USB chargers and touchscreen seat functions.

Now the size and width of the seats did not change, however it did feel like there was more space when I sat down. Typically the standard for Main Cabin seating is 32 inched Seat Pitch and 17-18 width, which was the case for this flight.

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I also enjoyed the that the menu was given out in the beginning of the flight to give you enough time to think about what you would like to eat. This helps avoid deciding on the spot when the flight attendants are trying hard to serve every person in a timely manner. Did you know that beer and wine is complimentary on international flights? Big thumbs up!

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As each person situated themselves in their seat, there was more than enough overhead space for carry-ons and backpacks, I even noticed a few bins which were empty. The flight attendants were quick to prepare the flight for departure and within 10 minutes from boarding we were already in the air to Hong Kong.

INFLIGHT EXPERIENCE

Once we were at cruising speed, I was excited to see if the service in American also improved. US Carriers have not scored as high as international carriers such as Korean Air or All Nippon, however American has mentioned that they aim to change their consumer perception. Beverages and drinks came out within 45 minutes from our departure and I would be able to enjoy a nice cold drink while watching a movie.

One of the biggest changes to the inflight entertainment was the huge screen and selection of movies and TV shows. I was in awe on the amount of time I could keep occupied with over 300 movies (50 being newly released) and then over 300 channels of television shows. You were able to rewind, fast forward and save selections for later in the flight. Even the games that were loaded on the system were entertaining for 10 minutes or so.

Did you have a playlist that you want to listen to? Well you can even connect your smart device and play pre-loaded playlists to the system. Now that’cool!

Now for those who need the Internet, well – American Airlines has an option for you! Inflight Wi-Fi throughout the entire flight. To purchase Wifi, it costs $19.95 for the entire flightv (14hours) and the connection speed was pretty good. I was able to play an online game and make a Wifi call from my cellphone. Who would have thought Iw ould be able to make a call at 50,000 feet!

This made a BIG DIFFERENCE!

Throughout the flight, I did deal with very understanding flight attendants, however I was not blown away with their service and attention to detail. I still feel that Asian carriers have an advantage when it comes to being proactive. I was satisfied and this by far was one of my better experiences on American Airlines.

FINAL REVIEW

American Airlines has made some major changes to its place int he airline world especially for those who plan to fly internationally. These new planes with major advancements in functionality and atmosphere has been a big eye opener and will attract more passengers to consider flying on American. Although changes have been made in the equipment, American Airlines and the other US Carriers will need to improve on their overall customer service. Friendliness and sincerity are expected, but if American wants to compete internationally, they will need to learn to do more and exceed expectations.

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Welcome A380 to Washington!

Dear Friends,

Today I witnessed an amazing marvel, and unbelievable accomplishment and honestly a masterpiece that I cannot deny. A work of art that I cannot wait to experience and boast about, the NEW EMIRATES A380!

My sister and I were fortunate to be invited to this VIP Event (thanks, Barry & Zeenat!) and witness the unveiling of Emirates flagship aircraft which will have daily service from Washington, D.C – Dulles (IAD) to Dubai. I have been a major advocate for Emirates with my own personal experiences, however with this new aircraft, I cannot wait to tell each and everyone of my clients that they must experience it firsthand.

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Rob Gurney, Vice President of North America – Emirates & Chris Browne, Airport Manager of Washington, D.C. Dulles International Airport cut the inaugural cake for the new A380

Today, travel has been overshadowed by cheap fares, low cost airlines and online travel agencies which fail to provide the two things that this industry first began on – immaculate service and relaxing comfort. Often times, I am bombarded with questions about comparison shopping and add-on charges for overweight or extra baggage, but rarely asked which airlines provides the most comfortable experience. I cannot Fathom (look out for another post!, hint! hint!) being uncomfortable for 3 hours, let alone sitting shoulder to shoulder to someone for 14 hours or more without carefully weighing out my options (How many stopovers? Layover time? Which airport i will be connecting to?). All of these are questions that passengers should ask themselves before considering which airline to use for their travel. Price cannot be the only factor, but if it is – you always get what you pay for!

With that said, I introduce to you the Emirates A380. This newest addition to the Emirates fleet which is a wide body, double decker jet aircraft that is a masterpiece in the sky. Emirates has the most A380s in their fleet with 73 currently operating in cities such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now Washington, D.C. With a passenger capacity of 489 people ( 14 closed suites, 76 business class and 399 economy class) you can only imagine the size of this aircraft. Added with Emirates world renowned customer service, I cannot help by recommend this flight.

Economy Class

Economy RowsSince the A380 is a double deck aircraft, the lower deck comprises the Economy class with rows beginning form 43 – 88. The configuration is 3 – 4 -3 which means three seats on the left, 4 in the middle and three on the right. The Economy class is divided into 4 sections with rows 52 – 65 and rows 67 -79 being the largest and rows 43 – 51 and rows 80 -88 being the smallest (also the quietest). Regardless of your location, there is ample space and legroom at every seat and experience is almost the same. Seat dimensions is at an industry high at 18 inches with a seat pitch of 32 inches.

TIP #1: Best SeatsEconomy Seats.jpg

Want to get the premier seats? If possible try to get row 43 A/B/C, row 43 H/J/K, row 52 A/B/C and row 52 H/J/K. These seats are in the front of the sections and have no seats in front of them. Row 43 is the best option since it also has the second smallest section, which means more quiet and most likely cleaner bathrooms.

Window Seats with Legroom – Both of best worlds!! Try row 68A, 68K, 81A and 81K. These four seats are right in front of the exit rows and have no seats in front of them (shhhhh….. Travelwise secret!!!).

Need elbow room and leg space – Try Row 67 B/C, row 67 J/K, row 80 B/C or row 80 J/K. Since these rows are in front of the Exit Area they do not have a window seat beside them, and only have two seats. Tada!

TIP #2: Family Seats

For those who are traveling with their babies or children, then you can take advantage of

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Children Amenity Kits and Child Meals available

row 54 D/E/F/G, row 67 D/E/F/G and row 82 D/E/F/G (I would say this would be the best, because it is in a smaller section and less people, hence no so many people waiting for the bathroom). These seats have bassinet crib positions if you need to use them.  Also did I mention the awesome Kid’s Program and Amenity Kits? Just ask one of our travel agents to request these kits beforehand, so they can have them ready for you when you board your plane.

Business Class

As you find your way to the rear of the plane, you find a staircase that leads to the Upper

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Dedicated bartender to quench your thirst

Deck and find my favorite part of the plane – the inflight Bar. This feature is not accessible to Economy class, and you will need to be in First or Business class. Fully stocked with wine, premium spirits and hors d’oeuvrs , imagine sipping on a drink while onboard headed to Dubai. Meet new friends, enjoy delectable canapes and socialize at 45,000 feet. A different way to view the the Mile High Club (pun, intended!).

 

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Champagne? Red or White? Sandwiches? It doesn’t matter when you fly in First or Business Class.

 

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Walk a few feet further and you arrive at the 76 Business Class seats which are probably like First Class seats on any other airlines. Configured in a 1 – 2 – 1 setup, each seat has an 18.5 inch width, 48 inch pitch and converts to a 79 inch flat lie down bed. In addition, each seat has access to an AC Adapter, 2 USB Plugs, an iPad and of course an Amenity kit which includes socks, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste and other toiletries.

If you are food buff – Emirates does a great job creating gourmet cuisines prepared with locally sourced ingredients from regions they travel to. Mix and match your meals with a carefully selected wine with favorites chosen by their sommelier.

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Other amenities included in the price for flying Business Class include

  • Complimentary Chauffeur drive to and from the airport
  • Priority Check-in
  • Dedicated  lounge access
  • On demand dining with wine service
  • Mini bar at your seat

 

First Class

First Class Amenites
Vanity mirror with toiletries at your disposal.

Now, I may never experience this extremely luxurious product, however if enough of  you read this – hopefully Emirates will allow me to try it – ha ha! Anyways, if you find yourself in need of top notch service and full suite service- you can find it in either one of these 14 First Class Suites. I was highly impressed with the comfort and accessibility of snacks, drinks and of course the comfortable reclining seats. First class seats boasts a seat width of 23 inches and 86 inch seat pitch. Not as large as other airlines, but the one thing that I really loved, was the privacy. You can close the suite off and you can be completely secluded from other passengers. They even have a “Do Not Wake” Feature which lights up to inform the flight attendants to leave you alone.

 

Every First Class passenger receives an Amenity Kit to take with you, but Emirates hasIMG_2695.JPG outdone themselves by partnering with Bvlgari. The comfort kits contains facial moisturizer enriched with vitamin E and made up of antioxidants and oils. Also included are a drawstring bag, a foldable hairbrush, deodorant, Bvlgari lotion and toiletries for men or women.

Although the seats to most would be the talk of the town, the most unexpected highlight of this tour was the bathroom. Yes, I said it the bathroom. The surreal experience is more like a Spa Service. The Spa Room as they call it is larger than my own bathroom and they have two onboard!

With rejuvenating products by Timeless Spas at your disposal you have a choice to “Relax” or “Revive”. These Shower Spas must be booked when onboard to avoid scheduling conflicts, however if there is an open slot, you may use them. They have two Spa Room attendants who are consistently cleaning and restocking the shower spas after each passenger. You are give 5 minutes of water when showering and the pressure is great considering you are on a plane. Even the floors beneath you are heated, crazy, right!

On the commercials, Jennifer Aniston claims she enjoys the Shower Spa Rooms and I now know why!

 

Final Take:

With the introduction of the new A380 to Washington, D.C, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The magnificent aircraft will allow more passengers the ability to explore other destinations around the world and connect to via Dubai. With daily service from Dulles, clients of mine will be able to enjoy world-class comfort in any class of service in style and luxury. Beginning in March, Emirates will begin service to Cebu and Clark, Philippines while they continue to grow in the Manila market.

For anyone who have not been convinced, you can visit my sister’s virtual tour and see how impressive this aircraft really is. Click here to view.

Call our office for more information and to find your next flight on Emirates! (301) 248-8898 or www.travelwiseonline.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Travel tips for International Flights

The actual thought of flying is dreadful! I would never want to sit in a cramp, overcrowded plane with horrible food, unless it was important. No one really loves to fly (except maybe the pilot), but the thought of flying to go somewhere different and new, is what really gets us to take a step on the plane. Now you know my secret! A Travel Agent who does not like to fly, but LOVES TO TRAVEL!

Well with over 15 years of traveling all across the globe, I have a few tips that may help you ditch the fear and thought of flying. Although flying is not my forte – it is really the only way to see the world…

 Tip #1: Pack Early

This is the tip that everyone knows, but never follows. We always plan to pack early, but somehow we always find ourselves really wanting to do something else than packing. Honestly, this has saved me in more than a few trips and I suggest instead of planning to pack, just DO IT. Get it over, pack, and never have to worry about it again.

SIDE NOTE: Do get in habit of physically locating and looking at your travel documents (visas, passports, itineraries) and storing them in a clear Zip-loc bag for easy access. Having a clear bag allows you to see what’s inside without opening it and storing all of your “must have’; documents together is always a good idea.

Tip #2: Charge your Batteries

If you are like me, then having a phone is a necessity. When travelling, your phone can be your savior and not having power and searching around for charging stations at every layover is VERY stress-free. Every time I fly, I always make sure to charge every electronic device I plan on bringing. The must have of charging…

  1. Portable Chargers
  2. International Wall plugs
  3. Three outlet Extender

TRAVEL HACK: Use old sunglasses cases to store your cable and plug together. The ones that zip are the best and it is so convenient when you have to pull it out of your backpack or purse.

 Tip #3: Adjust your clock a week before you trip

People tend to forget about jet lag and think that they are not susceptible to its effects. To avoid this, set your clocks to match the time at your destination. This will help you adjust before arriving and allow you to enjoy your vacation from the very start.

 Tip #4: Be comfortable but presentable

We are no longer in the Golden Age of travel where suits and dresses fill the seats and the ability to fly was so revered. We now live in the modern age where comfort is key and you must be able to transform outfits as you see fit. Layering is the game and you have to learn how to pack clothes that complement each other. Stick with solid colors and remember to be comfortable, although not too comfortable. Stick those PJs back in the drawer.

It took me a while to give in, but flying to button down and some khakis get me better seats and better service than a t-shirt and jeans. A fact to swallow, but it is what it is. Remember it is hard to take someone seriously when they look like they got dressed in the dark.

 Tip #5: Check in the day before or make sure you arrive early

Being able to check in early is such a blessing that people just do not take advantage of. Just login into your airline carriers website and enter in your record locator and you can see a summarize version of your itinerary online. You can check-in, pay for excess baggage, upgrade your seats and obtain your boarding passes (pdf or paper). If you do not find your reservation, at least you have another day to resolve any issues with your ticket.

Also, remember to arrive to an international flight at least 3 hours prior to our departure. Being early is always best to change seats (if available), go through security and not having to worry about speeding to the airport. REMEMBER: International flights close the doors to the aircraft 15 minutes prior to departure. Once the door at the gate has been closed, the agent will not open it for any reason.

 Tip #6: H20 To-Go

It is important to keep yourself hydrated on long flights to prevent hunger pains, headaches and bad breath. You can save a lot of money of carrying a bottle of water with you to avoid spending big bucks in the airport on inflated pricing. Hate dumping that bottle at security? Did you know that you could bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up on the other side? Most airports now have water filling stations that you can fill your bottles with.

 Tip #7: Trim down the Carry-On

The most memorable definition of a carry-on was the time when a passenger was stopped at the gate holding an IKEA blue bag (yes, the BLUE bag with straps) as her carry on. Not only did I realize how much I really want an IKEA bag, I also realized how much easier it would be to travel without a carry-on. IDEA!
Lose the carry-on! Well, not completely, but get it down to 10-12 lbs. total. You have to be able to move around quickly but still have enough supplies for a day or two. If you really take advantage of Tip #1, try to consolidate and bring a carry-on that fits underneath the seat in front of you or on top of other bags.

TRAVEL HACK: Not having a carry-on is more of a benefit these days to quickly get from gate to gate, avoid getting stuck in crowds and being able to relax and board last because you know you will not need to fight for cabin space.

 Tip #8: Lounges are the BEST!

Having long layovers and waiting take a toll on you while you travel, but do not worry. You can take advantage of the lounges in international airports to give yourself a break. Yes, the day pass can range between $25-$65 per person; however think about the benefits opposed to the cost.

TRANQUILITY | SPACE | COMFORT – Enjoy ample room while you wait and maybe even enjoy a pre-flight snack and drink before your next flight.

STAY CONNECTED – With most lunges offering free Wi-Fi in their lounges, you can stay connected with friends and family no matter where you are in the world.

REJUVENATE | RELAX – With the expansion of amenities offered by airlines to premium passengers, lounges have been upgraded to maximize your level of comfort. International lounges have increased their spaces and have included showers and studio type rooms for maximum comfort. Refresh yourself while waiting on those long layovers.