AIRFARE

Time to get real about real-time airfares

Little Miss/Shutterstock
Little Miss/Shutterstock
Sue Marcus was looking for a flight from Washington to Tulsa.

Instead, she found trouble.

Every time the American Airlines Web site asked her to select a return flight, it came back with an error message saying that the fare she’d selected was “no longer available.” She phoned the airline to finish the reservation. “A customer service agent told me that she couldn’t use the same Web system that the public sees, though she found a fare that was $50 higher than the flight I’d originally chosen,” says Marcus, a retired government worker from Fairfax, Va.
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How much is that cheap flight really costing you?

The Scan is a synopsis of news you can’t miss. Get it delivered to your “in” box by signing up now. It’s free.

What we’re reading

• How much is that cheap flight really costing you? (Daily Finance)

Courts will treat Asiana passengers differently (Yahoo! News)

Restaurants rethink menus to woo baby boomers (NBC News)

Avis Budget acquires Payless Car Rental for $50 million (AutoNews)

Well-known hazards likely factors in Asiana crash (Airwise)
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Are you too desperate for an airfare deal?

d3images/Shutterstock
d3images/Shutterstock
What would you do for a cheap airfare?

If you said “anything” then you’re probably going to love flying in the future. It’s a place that will be filled with steals and deals, and for a lucky few who take their time to study the system, you’ll be able to travel for next to nothing.

The rest of us? Not so much.
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3 surprises lurking in your airfare — bet you don’t know what they are

Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock
Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock

Your airline ticket isn’t what it seems to be.

I’m reminded of that whenever I hear from readers like Heidi Fox. Her husband tried to switch his United Airlines ticket from Chicago to Orlando to an earlier flight on the same day, and an airline representative assured him he’d only have to pay a $75 change fee.

But what the rep apparently didn’t say is that Fox’s husband would have to shell out a $744 fare difference, too.

“It was only after he received the emailed receipt that he was made aware of the $744 cost differential,” she says.
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Bill aims to scuttle new airfare pricing rule

Enjoy the government’s new airfare rule. It might not last.

On Jan. 26, the Transportation Department began requiring airlines and ticket agents to quote fares that include all mandatory taxes and fees. Since 1988, they’d been allowed to advertise fares that didn’t include government-imposed taxes and fees.
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Stop obsessing over airfares, and buy now

Should I wait for a fare sale or buy my airline ticket now?

That’s the question I’m most frequently asked as a consumer advocate. And it’s most often asked now, just as readers are starting to think about their summer vacations.

“How far out would you advise purchasing tickets to London from Baltimore-Washington?” wonders Anna Fansler.

“Should we book soon, or can we wait for possibly cheaper deals that might come through?” asks Laura Schwingel.

I won’t keep you in suspense, ladies: Book your tickets soon.
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Holland America kept 100 percent of my airfare — can it do that?

Cruise refunds. There, didn’t your blood pressure just go up? Mine sure did.

Cruise refunds can be an endless source of frustration for travelers like Jeff Grill’s in-law’s, who missed their Holland America ship in Venice, Italy, recently. They knew they were going to lose the value of their cruise. But their airfare? When Holland America pocked that, they were surprised.

Under Holland America’s cruise contract — the legal agreement between you and the the company — any airfare refund should have been passed along to the customer. Rule 4 says, “[If] the air transportation we arrange is unavailable or otherwise fails to materialize, our sole liability will be limited to refunding the air add-on paid or cruise only credit.”

But that didn’t happen.
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