When it comes to booking flights for a cruise vacation, it seems that everyone goes about it a bit differently. Some cruise travelers book air through the cruise line while others use a travel agent. Many buy air online, either through their favorite airline, via a number of airline reservation search tools; with or without the guidance of online experts.
Regardless of how that airfare gets booked, it does. Wishful thinking would have that be the end of the story; now let’s pack and fly and for many, such is the case. Others, those who fly frequently and must minimize the possibility of plans going wrong or those who simply want their occasional air travel to go as smoothly as possible, rely on planning and organizational tools such as TripIt to meet their goals. In a recent online Twitter chat of questions, answers and discussion, some interesting thoughts, facts and revelations came up and some common concerns bubbled to the top as hot button issues.
When To Book Flights?
In preparation for the chat, I researched the question and found experts warning that booking within two weeks of flying is just asking for trouble and around 54 days out is a good time to book a domestic flight. When asked for their opinion of when was the best time to book airfare, those participating in the TripIt-sponsored forum had other ideas.
Frequent flyer and co-host of the chat Rachelle Lucas (@TravelBlggr) shared her personal experience, saying “I think 3 months is the key. Not too far in advance, not too late Goldie Locks of flights … just right”.
The youngest American to visit every country in the world, Lee Abbamonte (@LeeAbbamonte) shared a strategy similar to what we recommend for making cruise travel reservations, saying he books air “as far in advance as possible to get the best deals,” but admitting “although I definitely usually book last minute!” Writer, photographer and traveler Noel Morata (@) agreed, urging travelers; “Always book your flight at the earliest; 6 months to a year.”
Traveler Brian Eubanks (@) cautioned “Closer gets too risky. You might score, but you might break the bank also,” echoing chat sponsor TripIt’s (@TripIt) position that “3-6 months seems to be the popular option”.
Noting the effect of world events on the price of international flights, New York Times & USA Today featured Priceline bidding strategist DonNadeau (@ ) added “With intensification of Middle East situation, consider booking now before energy costs spiral more.”
Chat host Matt Long (@LandLopers) summed it up nicely, noting “So it sounds like everyone says earlier is better – good to know!”
Surviving A Long Flight
When asked to share what they packed for a long flight, chat participants stepped right up with some great suggestions. ” iPad,noise canceling headphones, healthy snacks, bottled water, eye mask said Sandi McKenna (@SandiMcKenna), Co-Host MidLife Road Trip, A Show about Travel, Food, Funny Side of Life. “I usually pack a leftover amenity kit from my last business class flight,” (we do this too) chimed frequent air and sea traveler @MikeWFaust, editor of the popular cruise information site, CruiseCurrents. Other suggestions included:
- Bose noise canceling headphones, neck pillow and iPad- @ngiris
- comfy socks. Hate wearing shoes the whole time – @LandLopers
- snacks, snacks and more snacks and my laptop for entertainment – @emorata
- ZzzQuil and compression socks!- @LindsaMae
- Headphones & MacBook. Blog and vlog in transit always kills some time 🙂 – @ManAndHisBlog
- All I need is long pants and a sweater as it gets COLD! Usually just zone out and go in and out of sleep. – @Bloggeries
Choosing Up Sides On Loyalty When the questions got more specific during the TripIt chat, asking which airlines were best for Premium Economy and Business Class along with which Frequent Flyer program is the best right now comments were all over the board.
Some did not hesitate with their top choices with @LeeAbbamonte noting “Singapore, Virgin Australia and Emirates for sure!” and @RickGriffin jumping right in with “I LOVE @SouthwestAir!” @marcellinho_nl liked “CathayPacific Premium economy is great, Qatar Airways and Etihad Business class are great IMHO.”
While there was no clear winner, others got quite specific in their vote and why, with @FlyingPhotog tweeting “JetBlue’s Mint is epic. Though limited in availability, it’s the way to fly LAX-JFK.” and @LandLopers adding”Well it’s hard not to be a fan of @cathaypacificUS premium classes and lounges!”
Admittedly, information available and reflected in the TripIt chat noted a need for a comparison of all programs. “I’ve only flown Premium Economy on @VirginAmerica and @cathaypacificUS … both are amazing for extra room and entertainment,” noted @TravelBlggr .
As with other Twitter chats, after the non-stop live action is over, going back through the #hashtag used to review comments can be a viable tool for cruise travelers, regardless of how frequently they fly, rent a car, book a hotel room or plan any other element of a travel experience. It’s a real world use of social media platforms that brings real value and current information we can use right now.