DoNotPay.com Promises to Re-Book Your Flights & Hotels When Prices Drop

DoNotPay LogoThe Milenomics blog has a long post on a free new service that could save travelers some real money…if it works as planned.

DoNotPay.com plans to be the AutoSlash of airline and hotel bookings, checking frequently to see if prices have dropped and automatically re-booking you when they do.

DNP owners claim they can even work with Southwest Airlines, which is something that others have had no success with…Southwest’s team of lawyers quickly sue any website owner that scrapes their data.

DNP requires a large amount of private information from its clients, as explained in the Milenomics post.

I wish them the best of luck…they will need it to survive.

Another Southwest Airlines Sale

Southwest Aircraft at GateThe marketing team at Southwest likes to announce sales, and they’ve done it again.

Check Southwest.com to see if any of your existing tickets have gone down in price, and rebook at the lower price if they have.

AirfareSpot has the details and some significant limitations.

Southwest Airlines News

Southwest Airlines PlaneSouthwest is a quirky airline, with a single cabin, no reserved seats and a strange-yet-sensible boarding lineup system. Also, you can cancel a booking without penalty, and checked bags fly free. [see their website for deets and limitations] And, of course, the Companion Pass is wonderful!

Southwest doesn’t open up its calendar for ticket sales 330 days into the future, like most airlines. Instead, every month or two SWA will activate several more weeks. They just did that, so you can now purchase tickets for dates up to October 1, 2018. That is good news.

Now for some bad news: The price of drinks purchased onboard is going up. Regular beers and wine will be $6, premium beers and liquor will be $7, starting March 1. I don’t know if this will affect their free-booze policy that is in effect January 1, February 14, March 17, June 18, Fathers Day, July 4, September 20, October 31 and Thanksgiving.

 

Austin to Hawaii on Delta for $395 / $465 Round-Trip

Maui, Hawaii
Maui, Hawai’i

EscapeATX.com has posted about a good airfare from Austin to Hawaii on Delta. The round-trip airfare in Basic Economy is $395, in Regular Economy about $465. The available destinations are Honolulu and Maui.

Routing includes a change of planes at LAX.

The fares are available for travel in April, May, September and October.

See the deets on EscapeATX here.

It will be interesting to see what happens to airfares to Hawai’i when Southwest Airlines begins their long-awaited service this year or next.

Google Flights Getting Even Better

Google LogoMuch to the (probable) dismay of online travel agencies like Hipmunk and Expedia, Google has a feature called Google Flights that shows airline schedules and prices in an easy-to-use format.

Recently, Google Flights has been gaining additional capabilities that make it even more useful to travelers. For example, the site gives an idea of how much legroom a flight has by showing “seat pitch”, like 28″ or 31″ (larger numbers are better). You can also see if a flight offers wi-fi, if seats have power ports, and if there are extra fees for things like seat selection and overhead-bin usage.

Recent additions include price tracking and suggestions for the best days to purchase a ticket (based upon historical price trends).

Note that Google Flights does not show the schedules for every carrier, Southwest Airlines being a notable example.

 

Status on Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines PlaneThis TravelCodex post, the last of a series, tells all about the two elite status levels on Southwest Airlines. They are called A-List and A-List Preferred.

In may not seem obvious that Southwest would have status levels, since all the seats are in one cabin and any passenger can take any un-occupied seat. The primary benefit of status is early boarding.

To me, the best “status” on Southwest is the Companion Pass. The blog post tells a bit about the Companion Pass, and has a link to a more thorough description of what it is and how to get it.

WSJ: Yes, You Can Visit Cuba On Your Own

The Jan. 13, 2018, issue of theĀ  Wall Street Journal has an article describing a recent visit to Cuba by two friends. They went on their own, not as part of a group tour. A sidebar to the article tells how anyone can do the same.

According to the sidebar, the rules still permit Americans to visit Cuba in “support of the Cuban people” without special authorization. Just go online to purchase an airline ticket from American, jetBlue, Southwest or Delta, and select that reason when the website prompts you. A visa will be needed, and you can purchase that for $50 at the airport ticket counter.

When you arrive in Cuba, you must not patronize any business related to the Cuban military. The list of businesses (some hotels, etc.), tourist agencies, marinas, stores and products (including Carney and Varadero rums) to avoid can be found on the State Department’s website.

According to the sidebar in the Wall St. Journal article, you must keep evidence of your interactions with Cubans for five years. Such interactions should be meaningful, which may spur Cuba toward democratic government. Such evidence can be receipts and selfies with locals. Staying in private residences (casas particulares), eating in private restaurants (paradares), and visiting galleries and community projects are recommended.

The United States has an embassy in Havana, although with reduced staff due to mysterious illnesses among staff (perhaps due to some sort of sonic activity). Airbnb continues to operate in Cuba, as do US airlines.

If self-directed travel doesn’t sound appealing, you can do as many Americans have by taking a cruise that stops in several Cuban port cities.

A Plethora of Cheap Trans-Atlantic Airfares

The travel blogs are noting lots of very inexpensive airfares from the United States to various European cities.

Austin to London Great Circle Map
Austin to London Great Circle Map, 4915 miles

Scott’s Cheap Flights has an email out this afternoon with flights to Spain (Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, Ibiza, Madrid, Mallorca, Santa Cruz Palma, Santiago de Compostela, Tenerife and Valencia) in the $400s round-trip. The airlines with these low fares include American and United, and probably Delta. Austin is not among the listed departure cities, but Atlanta is and you can take Southwest non-stop from Austin to Atlanta (2 daily flights each way). Secret Flying notes that you can fly out of Houston on American.

Icelandair flies from DFW to Iceland and then on to various continental European cities for $300+ r/t (but remember all the fees for “extras”). Million Mile Secrets has a good write-up on this deal. One Mile at a Time notes that Icelandair will even begin flying to Kansas City starting in May! When researching a flight from JFK to LHR recently, I noticed that trip-cancellation insurance added only 2% to the ticket price on Icelandair…that seems like a pretty good deal.

When it comes to inexpensive flying to Europe, these are truly “the good old days.”