Navigating the confusing world of air travel? We help to answer your questions about how to get the best price and what to expect from the unexpected.
Q: Do any cruise lines offer air-inclusive fares, with the cruise fare and airfare packaged in one price? And if so, are they better prices than buying the cruise and airfare separately?
A: Yes, some cruise lines, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, do offer air/cruise packages. Some call these deals “free airfare” packages, but it’s always a good idea to price the two elements separately to see if you’re really getting a bargain, and they’re sometimes offered only on the most expensive cabins. I once saw an air/cruise package on Seabourn Cruise Lines for a one-week sailing in Europe during the fall for $2199, and that was indeed a screaming bargain. You might find this discussion on the Cruise Critic website helpful. Whatever you do, I always recommend arriving at your cruise port at least one day (and preferably two days in winter) before sailing so that you won’t miss the boat due to airline delays or cancellations.
Q: Now that the National Parks are open again, we’re planning a trip to Yellowstone for the first time. What’s the best airport to fly into, and who has the best airfares? We’re considering staying in the park itself at the Old Faithful Inn but we’ve read reviews on Trip Advisor that the creature comforts are not exactly luxurious (no TVs, no WiFi, no air conditioning, etc). Should we be concerned booking a stay there?
A: Yellowstone (and nearby Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole) should be on everyone’s bucket list. You can fly into Jackson, WY. Frontier Airlines (FlyFrontier.com) typically has the cheapest airfares with connections in Denver. Book directly on their website for the best deals. I’ve stayed at the Old Faithful Inn and while it’s true that the rooms are quite “historic” it’s a marvelous building and all part of the Yellowstone experience. Why watch TV or surf the Internet when Old Faithful is spurting outside the door? And I never found it uncomfortable in any way. You should book way ahead with Xanterra Parks and Resorts (the same company that manages lodging at the Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, and Zion National Park) at 866-439-7375 or online at Xanterra.com. The only concern I had about my stay in Yellowstone: the portions at the Old Faithful Inn’s dining room are enormous, so if you’re not a huge eater, split an entrée or prepare to stuff yourself silly as I did.
Q: Allegiant Airlines seems to have the cheapest fares from the West Coast to Hawaii, but I’ve never flown them and hear that they have a lot of fees, even for carry-on bags. What kinds of jets do they fly?
A: Allegiant does indeed charge for everything from carry-on bags to advance seat selection. They fly Boeing 757 jets to Hawaii, but most of their fleet consists of aging MD-80 aircraft (the average fleet age is just over 21 years), although they are planning to add Airbus models. But even with the fees, depending on travel dates, their fares are often the lowest available. Visit them online at AllegiantAir.com.
George Hobica is a syndicated travel journalist and founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.