Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Don't Stow It—Ship It
If ease of travel is your main concern and money is no object, you can ship
your luggage and sports equipment with one of the growing number of
luggage-service companies that pick up, track, and deliver your luggage
(often through couriers such as Federal Express) with minimum hassle for
you. Traveling luggage-free may be ultraconvenient, but it's not cheap:
One-way overnight shipping can cost from $100 to $200, depending on
what you're sending. Still, for some people, especially the elderly or the
infirm, it's a sensible solution to lugging heavy baggage. Specialists in
door-to-door luggage delivery are Virtual Bellhop (www.virtualbellhop.
com), SkyCap International (, Luggage
Express (, and Sports Express (www.sports
same airplane cabin rarely pay the
same fare for their seats. Rather, each
pays what the market will bear. Busi-
ness travelers who need to purchase
tickets at the last minute, change their
itinerary at a moment's notice, or get
home before the weekend pay the pre-
mium rate, known as the full fare. Pas-
sengers who can book their ticket long
in advance, who don't mind staying
over Saturday night, or who are will-
ing to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday,
or Thursday after 7pm will pay a frac-
tion of the full fare. On most flights,
even the shortest hops, the full fare is
close to $1,000, but a 7-day or 14-day
advance purchase ticket is closer to
$200 to $300. Here are a few other
easy ways to save:
• Periodically, airlines lower prices
on their most popular routes.
Check your newspaper for adver-
tised discounts, or call the airlines
directly and ask if any promo-
tional rates or special fares are
available. You'll almost never see a
sale during the peak summer vaca-
tion months of July and August,
or during the Thanksgiving or
Christmas seasons; in periods of
low-volume travel, however, you
should pay no more than $400 for
a cross-country flight. If your
schedule is flexible, ask if you can
secure a cheaper fare by staying an
extra day or by flying midweek.
(Many airlines won't volunteer
this information.) If you already
hold a ticket when a sale breaks, it
may even pay to exchange your
ticket, but keep in mind you'll
usually incur a change fee of as
much as $100 to do so.
Note: The lowest-priced fares
often are nonrefundable, require
advance purchase of 1 to 3 weeks
and a certain length of stay, and
carry penalties for changing dates
of travel.
Consolidators, also known as
bucket shops, are a good place to
find low fares. Consolidators buy
seats in bulk from the airlines and
then sell them back to the public
at prices below even the airlines'
discounted rates. Their small ads
usually run in the Sunday travel
section of your newspaper at the
bottom of the page. Before you
pay, however, ask for a confirma-
tion number from the consolida-
tor, and then call the airline itself
to confirm your seat. Be prepared
to book your ticket with a differ-
ent consolidator if the airline can't
confirm your reservation. Also be
aware that bucket-shop tickets are
usually nonrefundable or rigged
with stiff cancellation penalties,
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