Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The new era of air travel

I just purchased plane tickets to California for Thanksgiving. Considering the new era of air travel that we're in now, I made a few observations....

Bargains. I paid just shy of $500 for a round-trip ticket from New York to San Diego on Continental. This was apparently an excellent deal when compared to other airlines, which came to $650, $700, $800 and up for comparable flights. And that was even after exploring a number of flexible options (alternate dates, airports, etc.). I wondered whether I was paying a premium for traveling in the general vicinity of the holiday, but when I checked the same flight several weeks earlier for comparison purposes, the fare was the same. So that's just where we are now: $500 is a bargain for cross-country air travel.

Flight time. Continental quoted a flight time of 6 hours and 22 minutes for the nonstop flight. I've always known cross-country flights to take 5, maybe 5 and a half hours. Sounds like they're padding the flight time, so they can still call it "on time" when we encounter the inevitable delays. Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist? They've already been caught doing it.

"Choice" seats? Continental is not yet charging for those "choice" seats in Economy: the aisle and window seats in the front of the cabin that US Air charges extra for. I was surprised, therefore, when I went to select seats and saw all of those seats marked as "premium." Turns out they hold those seats for their OnePass Elite members... so I guess you have to pay for them after all, in a manner of speaking.

On a more positive note, my father called me from the airport this afternoon, and reported that he got a free bag of pretzels on his flight. Airline miracles can still happen!



Blogger Jason Fisher said...

Regarding the flight time, another explanation (not that I doubt your theory too) is that by slowing down (hence, taking longer), the plane can increase its fuel efficiency a little bit. Of course, however you slice it, air travel is verging on becoming worse than just staying home. :(

July 10, 2008 9:48 AM  

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