ways to make holiday travel jolly
Almost everyone wants to go somewhere over Christmas, and/or
New Year's -- and that's the problem. In fact, if you have not
booked your trip already, it may be too late to get the trip you
1. Book now for Christmas and New
2. It's standard travel advice: Be
flexible. The lowest prices will be on flights very early or late in
the day, and morning routes are best for avoiding delays. Flying on
Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's Day usually costs far less
than on busy days before or after the holidays themselves.
3. Unless a connecting flight costs a
lot less, go nonstop. If a connection is necessary, try to fly
through a southern hub, such as Dallas, Charlotte, or Phoenix, where
you can at least eliminate weather as a problem. A layover in
Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis raises the probability of getting
held up because of a storm.
4. Thinking about a resort getaway?
The year's highest rates kick in over the Christmas/New Year's
holidays at ski and beach resorts. Shifting your trip to before or
after this period, even by a day or two, can reduce costs
5. Airport parking lots get filled up
around the holidays, so use public transportation. If you must
drive, consider a private parking lot near the airport: They'll
shuttle you to and from the terminal, and they let you book in
advance so you won't have to worry about finding a space. People who
live far from an airport and have an early flight might want to stay
at an airport hotel the night before; some allow you to park your
car at the hotel until you return.
6. Bringing presents on your flight?
Don't wrap them. All luggage -- gifts included--might be examined by
security. Keep expensive or fragile items in your carry-on to cut
down on the chances that they'll be damaged or stolen. There has
been a serious rash of thefts recently.
7. Check out new check-in procedures.
Many airlines' Web sites now make it possible for passengers to
print out bar-coded boarding passes at home. There are also options
at the airport. If you have luggage to check, use a curbside skycap;
some airlines let them issue boarding passes as well. Inside the
terminal, look for a self-service check-in kiosk, where you can
quickly get your boarding pass and sometimes check your luggage.
8. Worried about long security lines?
The Transportation Security Administration's website, tsa.gov ,
allows travelers to scope out how long waits are at about 450 U.S.
airports. You search by airport, day of the week, and time of day.
The problem is that the waits listed are averages and don't really
reflect how long screening will take on, say, the day before
Thanksgiving. To get around this glitch, look up an airport's wait
times on what's usually the busiest travel period -- Friday evenings
-- and assume that it'll take at least that long during the
9. Confirm your car reservation.
Car-rental outfits figure on a no-show rate of 20 percent, allowing
them to overbook. The result is that sometimes there are too many
people and too few cars. To avoid being the one without wheels, try
to arrive at the rental counter in late morning or early afternoon,
when the lot is most likely to be full. Calling to confirm your
reservation before you arrive lets them know that you won't be a
no-show. Also, inquire ahead of time about express check-in programs
so you can skip the lines. The fee to join might just beat the time
you'd spend waiting.
10. Look into business hotels. Over
the holidays, you'll find low rates at classy city and suburban
hotels that normally depend on business travelers. Families should
consider all-suite hotels or long-stay hotels, which have more room
and good holiday prices.
baggies for air travelers
Hefty, others couple with TSA to help with holiday treks
With the holiday travel season
nearing, plastic bag manufacturers are coupling with airport
authorities to give travelers the plastic bags they need to carry
shampoos and other liquid items on airplanes.
Bag maker Hefty announced late Wednesday it is offering more than 1
million 1-quart zip-top bags to airports around the U.S. to help
with holiday travel. Glad Products Co. is also offering thousands of
free bags to travelers.
The holiday travel season — which kicks off with Thanksgiving next
week — marks the first major holiday since new regulations were
imposed by the Transportation Security Administration.
In late September, the TSA declared that passengers can carry
lotions and gels onto airliners only if they’re in clear, 1-quart
zip-top plastic bags and if they are 3 ounces or less in size.
That followed a six-week ban of all gels and liquids on all planes,
ordered on Aug. 10 after an alleged plot to bomb U.S.-bound
jetliners was foiled.
Now the TSA is touting its 3-1-1 initiative, urging travelers
to remember they can have a 3-ounce bottle or less, in a
1-quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag, and only one bag per
Hefty, a subsidiary of Pactiv Corp., based in Lake Forest, Ill.,
said it wanted travelers to be prepared this holiday season, so
that’s why it is offering its Hefty OneZip bags at airports in
Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York, among many others.
Cheap, clean, safe, but you make
Does a hotel room for $159 a week sound good? It's safe, it's
clean. But if you want your bed made more than once a week, you'll
be doing that yourself.
The concept is called Value Place and is brought to you by Jack
DeBoer, the self-described "father of extended-stay'' who built the
Residence Inn and Candlewood Suites chains.
Gina-Lynne Scharoun, a Value Place executive and owner of a
franchise in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says business travelers are hungry for
low-cost lodging, and they don't mind going without some amenities
to get it.
She calls this growing group "gray collar'' types — computer
consultants or corporate managers — staying somewhere between 30 to
45 days, but not on the company dime.
The challenge for such travelers is in finding a cheap place that
doesn't require packing a stun gun or roach motel.
Value Place, along with competitors like Motel 6's Studio 6, solves
that problem. But it leaves travelers on their own when it comes to
"Our challenge is to educate people so they don't expect to get a
free bottle of shampoo,'' says Scharoun. Guests can purchase extra
cleaning and linen service, Internet access, laundry detergent and a
"kitchen value pack'' filled with dishes and basic cooking utensils
Indeed, guests truly treat the Value Place properties as a home away
from home. A company survey found that lodgers eat in their rooms
more frequently than the average American eats at home.
This lodging model may sound less than appealing to some travelers.
But they'd better get used to it, because it's growing fast. Value
Place counts 25 properties open now, with commitments for 500 more.
Airfares, hotel fees have a double standard
The fact that flights and hotel prices are up won't surprise
frequent travelers who've been experiencing the increases
first-hand. But what's interesting about the rise is the double
standard that exists in how airlines and hotels are allowed to
advertise their rates.
Airlines have been trying to loosen rules that say they have to
include extra fees in their advertised fares. They have argued that
they should be able to post airfares excluding things like the
recent surcharges to cover higher fuel costs. This week, the
carriers got turned down by the U.S. Transportation Department.
Citing the public interest, the DOT issued a decision to stick with
the one-price policy for airlines posting fares.
Bad news in bold, please
Hotels, on the other hand, have been getting away with separating
published room rates from multiple surcharges for years, which
drives most travelers crazy. And those surprise extras for tips,
"energy'' charges, and local phone service that appear on the bill
at front desk checkout — a time when travelers are not in the mood
to quibble — have been getting bigger.
While there isn't any end in sight to the surcharges, hotels may
begin publishing more realistic rates that include some of the
extras. A New York Times article this week looks at what some hotel
companies are doing, or thinking about doing, to be more open about
what travelers can expect upon checkout.
Cruise lines and the big internet travel agencies advertise base
rates for their cruises, and do not include taxes and port
charges, which can increase the price substantially . Get the total
price for the cruise before you commit to the trip.
Bottom line: You won't pay any less to fly or sleep in the next
year. But there's a chance you'll have a better idea of exactly what
you're paying for.
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