How Airlines Launch New Routes & Priority Pass Improvement

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What were they strapping in (bb?)
    please? I couldn’t tell but I know I don’t see a tiger though there is a dog in the row behind hjm…..

  2. I was pricing out some September positioning flights last night and ran into an expensive proposition, no flights less that $200 one-way. But if I were willing to fly early or late, I could fly for 8k miles, which is a value of 2.5 cents per mile. The planes are pretty empty, which tells me a sale is coming, but there are deals to be had, you just need to be flexible, as always. As I mentioned a few days ago, I even found a reasonable redemption on Delta, which never happens, but I wasn’t looking for the best flights, just a reasonable value a few months out. People who want last minute non-stops on obscure routes like Wichita-Atlanta at peak times are going to be disappointed, but that’s not new. The 5:30 AM ORD-DEN route, that’s possible.

  3. Can a live lobster be an emotional support animal?
    Asking for a friend…..

  4. Hot tip from YMMV (which just proves they suck along with banning ALL critical comments): freeze all your liquids so they are now solids so you can carry on your gallon jug of water. Yea right. TSA will claim they see some melted ice in there (so water so liquid) and YMMV has ruined someone’s day again…..

  5. In light of recent airline and airport meltdowns, is their any guidance for planning air travel 6, 9, 12 months in the future on destinations, airports, airlines to avoid and ones to favor?

  6. My ex roommate has a $4 million stradivarius violin (still does). Insurance costs $200k/year. Only the passenger knows what is in that bag.

  7. @Mark Jones – I’ve said these before, but here’s my summary.

    1. Avoid any line you can at a reasonable price, and make sure everyone in your party has the same. That means the following.
    a. Get TSAPre/Global Entry. For five years, your lines will be shorter.
    b. If you can get Clear for free, add it. Sometimes the Clear line will be shorter than the TSAPre line
    c. Get status on an airline, as high as possible. Pick your best airline for your city and stick to it. Then fly only that airline. This gets you access to the priority lines across airline alliances. I can’t tell you how great it is to walk into a crowded airport, see lines everywhere, but I can walk up to the American or BA or Iberia counter and have no more than one or two people in front on me. Status on an airline also gets your better seats, seats towards the front, and sometimes priority luggage handling, all time savers. I value all these things about status way more than the miles involved.
    d. If in a foreign airport, pop for the 5 or so euros when you buy your ticket to get FastTrack security lines, if available. Get it with your ticket, as close in, they sometimes suspend sales. Business/First class tickets often include this.
    e. In major, crowded cities, buy the City Pass (London Pass, Paris Pass, Firenze Pass, Rome Pass) for museums. (Metro/bus passes are debatable value.) Even if you slightly lose money on the pass, it usually lets you skip the lines to buy tickets, which is worth it.
    2. Avoid airlines that don’t let you cut the line unless they’re saving you a lot of money and/or time. The worst lines in Europe are for budget carriers like Ryanair. I’m flying them where those conditions apply, but buying the FastTrack option. Still, a 7 AM flight from Dublin on a Saturday morning means a 4 AM arrival to the airport. Ugh! (But it saves me 5 hours and hundreds because of the direct flight that is otherwise unavailable.)
    3. The airline that you chose to get status on – get lounge access. Possibly two sets of lounges, an airline and Priority Pass, for instance, in case one is overcrowded. (AMEX Platinum for the win – see #1 and getting those things for free with the card.) You’ll have a quiet place to hang, agents who can fix problems with cancelled flights, free food and drink to pay for what lounge access costs, and if you have kids or family members who travel, you can give them cards to also access the lounges. (As long as they don’t abuse the cards.)
    4. Travel shoulder seasons if you can. Early Jun is better than August. Or off seasons. The Louvre looks the same on the inside regardless of the weather outside. And it’s a lot less crowded when the weather is cold. Plus, Paris in December is magical. Xmas season anywhere is Europe is not to be missed, yet few Americans think about going.

  8. I think the best thing is to try to get non-stop flights. There is so much less chance of things going wrong.

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