A Tale of Two Airline Tickets by Cindy Baldwin

Today is your lucky day! After faithfully tracking flights from Boston to Jamaica, your friend tells you about the deal of the century: he just bought a round trip ticket for only $259. Every other fare has been over $400.
You should book it, right?

That depends on a few factors: the fees for baggage and seat assignments, how many stops the plane makes, and flight schedules. These components not only affect the ticket price, but the passenger’s vacation experience.

What a Deal Airline has a fantastic ticket price at $259. However, there are a plethora of fees:

Reservation booking fee $10.00
Advance seat assignment $40.00
Checked up to 40 pounds $86.00/43.00 per bag each way
Carry-on bag $80.00/40.00 per bag each way

Total ticket price including fees $475.00
Old Faithful Air has a seemingly higher ticket price of – $435. This airline doesn’t have as many fees:

Reservation booking fee free
Advance seat assignment free
1 bag up to 50 pounds $50.00/25.00 per bag each way
Carry-on bag free

Total ticket price including fees $485.00

Before clicking “book it!” on the less expensive ticket, there are a few more things to consider: how long will it take to get there, how many times there will be a plane change, and the airlines’ reviews for being on schedule, the quality of the equipment, and the service.

Old Faithful’s flight schedule is shorter with only one stop each way and afternoon departure on the return flight. The longest layover is one hour and you arrive back in to Boston at 10:00 pm. The reviews are consistently good and passengers get a free bag of pretzels.

What a Deal Air’s flight schedule has two stops each way; one stop has a five-hour layover. It also leaves Jamaica earlier than the flight on Old Faithful and gets back to Boston after midnight. Passengers will also have to pay for tap water and a bag of pretzels.

For a mere ten-dollar price difference, a savvy traveler would stick with Old Faithful. A passenger on this airline can enjoy their morning in Jamaica catching a few more rays on the beach while the What a Deal Air passenger drags their luggage across the sand to make their early flight. Old Faithful’s passenger’s flight not only leaves later in the day, but also arrives back in Boston earlier than What Deal Air’s flight. Old Faithful’s passenger will be asleep in their own bed, before What a Deal’s flight has even touched the ground.

It might be the best ten dollars ever spent!

Disclaimer: The names of the airlines are made up, but the information provided is factual based on rates 2/16/2012.

Save Money by Using Your ATM Card in Europe

I am very excited about writing my new travel column for the Londonderry News (www.londonderrynh.net).  The column is called,  ”The Wise Traveler”


Save Money by Using Your ATM Card in Europe

Whether you need euros, pounds or forints, using your ATM card in Europe is almost always the least expensive and most convenient way to get cash. Waiting in long bank lines to cash traveler’s checks is no longer necessary. ATMs are the standard way to get local currency, giving you more time to enjoy your vacation. One of the greatest advantages of exchanging money with your ATM card is that the wholesale exchange rate is used. This rate is much better than the rate you can get from exchanging traveler’s checks at a bank or exchange bureau. Most ATMs charge a flat fee per transaction and/or may charge a currency conversion fee (usually 1-3%). Even with the fees associated, the rate is better than using traveler’s checks.

ATMs are widely available throughout Europe, just like they are in the U.S. According to PLUS (Interbank network), there are over one million PLUS linked ATMs in 170 countries. When making a withdrawal with your debit card, money is taken out of your account and dispensed in the local currency of the country you are making the withdrawal in.

Here are some tips for using an ATM card in Europe:

• Call your bank and let them know that you will be traveling. This will prevent the bank from putting a hold on your account thinking it was stolen. Write down the international phone number in case your card is lost or stolen.
• Bring two ATM cards in case one is lost or stolen.

• Be sure your PIN number has 4 digits, as most European PIN numbers have only 4 digits. Test your PIN before you leave for your trip.
• Exchange $200.00-$300.00 in the local currency at the airport before you leave the U.S. There is nothing like arriving in Prague, bleary eyed from your over-night flight trying to find an ATM, so you have money for coffee or cab fare.

• When you use an ATM, withdraw the maximum (usually 250.00 euros) because you will most likely be charged a transaction fee. Most banks charge a flat fee, regardless of how much you take out. Don’t take out 20 euros 5 times in one day with a fee of 6 euros per transaction, for a total fee of 30 euros. It’s much more cost effective to withdraw 100 euros at one time for one fee of 6 euros.