Tickets and Fares 101

It seems a bit unusual that I am writing about tickets and fares. Most of you have already purchased a ticket or several in the past year or so. But there is so much going on in the industry; I thought I would make a few comments. First and foremost the vast majority of tickets; plane and train are now electronic. When I book your travel, what you receive from me is a receipt. It has no value. Like the receipt from any retail shop. The best part of electronic tickets is that you do not need to receive or take a paper copy with you when you travel. All you need to know is your itinerary. Some of you are putting your itineraries on your electronic devices which can also be used for a boarding pass. No more printing boarding passes.

I also want to point out that if you purchase an airline ticket with a set itinerary, you need to fly all the segments on your itinerary. Let us say you purchase a ticket from Boston to Chicago to Milwaukee and the same on the return. In Milwaukee, you change your mind and decide to drive to Chicago, and not take the flight from Milwaukee to Chicago. The carrier will automatically cancel your reservation from Chicago to Boston. They will consider you a no show. If you show up in Chicago for your flight home you will have a mess, especially if you have not called me or the carrier in advance. You need to fly on your itinerary!

Ticket fares have as many combination of fares as there are grains of sand! For example from Boston to Chicago on American Airlines, there are as many as 25 fares. Basically there are refundable and nonrefundable fares. Most fares except the full fares, but even some refundable fares may have some kind of penalty. Today, there are discounted Business and First class fares with all kinds of penalties. When purchasing your ticket know the penalties.

If you cancel a nonrefundable ticket that does not mean you loose all your money. First you need to cancel prior to departure by calling me or the carrier. Then you will have a year to use the ticket with a change fee. Each carrier is a bit different in the exchange rules. With some carriers you need to travel by the purchase date and others by the travel date. I always call a carrier to double check the rules. I also track your unused ticket.

The biggest difference in fares has to do with when you purchase the ticket, how many days in advance of travel. The more the merrier is a good guide. Fares can be 30, 21, 14, 7 or 3 days in advance of travel. There are also minimum and maximum stay fares. Plan ahead when you can.

Not too long ago most lowest fares were roundtrip. Today there are many one way fares in the market. So you can mix and match carriers, advance purchase and routing. I like my clients to travel on the same carrier so they do not get confused. Know what you are doing and your travel details.

Traveling can be a big headache when you make up your own rules. So from beginning to the end, it is always wise to use a travel professional: well worth it!

About alwaysharriet

With thirty years experience in corporate and leisure travel consulting, Harriet Ahouse has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean and worldwide. An avid scuba diver, she understands the requirements of travelers both on land and in the water. On the European scene she has offered traditional and personalized travel itineraries throughout the continent--Italy, France, and England are some of her favorites. As a Virtuoso Agent, she also has extensive resources to enhance her expertise in designing individual destination travel itineraries--and honeymoons--worldwide!
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