One way or another, the way you buy an airline ticket is about to change.
Behind the scenes, the propellerheads who create your fares are working on a smarter way to sell tickets. The airline industry is developing technology standards that could serve up a special fare intended only for you, based on how often you fly, where you live, your gender, age or marital status. But online travel agencies and consumer advocates are skeptical of customization.
Douglas Kauffman had the misfortune of being booked on the Celebrity Millennium. You may recall the propulsion problems that caused a string of cancellations late this summer.
Well, one of them was Kauffman’s.
Cruise lines like Celebrity have a customer-service protocol that they follow in the event of a cancellation. While these standards address almost every vacation, there is no one-size-fits-all fix. Someone inevitably feels they’ve been short-changed, and that’s why Kauffman contacted me. Read more “My cruise ship broke down and left me high and dry”
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. Read more “Time to get real about real-time airfares”
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.
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.