Spring Flight Deals to Europe Under $700: OneWorld, Star Alliance, & SkyTeam!

Morning, readers!

Winter is here and this is prime time for cheap deals to Europe from North America. Below are a few highlighted deals in Economy that are currently available on Google Flights:

Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul (IST) – $621 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 11-Mar 16, 2016.

Operated by Delta/Air France/KLM. Bookable on Google Flights/Delta.com

ord-ist delta chicago mar 11 2016
Chicago to Istanbul, $621 R/T

Chicago (ORD) to Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) – $683 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 11-Mar 16, 2016. Price is a few dollars cheaper on Delta/KLM but for those of you prefer to fly the Dreamliner or Star Alliance, this is your best option.

Operated by LOT Polish on the 787 Dreamliner. Bookable on Google Flights/LOT/Priceline

ord-sof LOT chicago mar 11 2016
Chicago to Sofia, Bulgaria, $683 R/T

Miami (MIA) to Rome (FCO) – $685 R/T inc. taxes. Sample dates Mar 9-Mar 14, 2016.

Bookable on Google Flights/AA. Flights booked on AA are marketed by AA so you will earn 100% AAdvantage miles on flights. Operated by AA/Iberia.

mia fco AA Iberia mar 9 2016

 

 

Snag these low fares while they’re hot! Play with dates and other departure cities to see if you can find even better deals yourself on Google Flights.

 

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or on Twitter @BenjaminJ84 and @AvionAddiction.

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Around the World from DFW – Jan/Feb 2016 for only $1456!

Around the world for only $1288 + $168? Leaving from D/FW on Jan 20, 2016 in the sample below, you can visit Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt for one great price! Operated by a mixture of Untied and Lufthansa flights. NOTE: You will need to purchase a positioning flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong as I cannot get it to price that segment for anywhere close to the same price. I found the sample below for only $168.

So all in your’re looking at $1456 to travel all the way around the globe. Not bad!

I know it’s a lot of economy miles flown but Lufthansa economy isn’t exactly torture. Dates are somewhat flexible in Jan/Feb 2016. Play around in Google Flights to find the best itinerary to suit your own dates.

RTW DFW-PVG-HKG-FRA-DFW

RTW PVG HKG Positioning

Just How Bad is the Honolulu Airport?

As a travel addict, I’ve seen my fair share of airports around the world, including the good, they bad, and the ugly. I FINALLY got around to visiting Hawaii after all these years and I loved it all around. We visited both Kauai and Oahu and Kauai was by far the big winner. It was truly paradise! Oahu was nice but Honolulu is quite the urban contrast compared to even the North Shore of Oahu. Honolulu felt a lot like Miami Beach so after visiting the peaceful paradise of Kauai, it was a lot to take in.

Shipwrecks Beach, Kauai. So beautiful it doesn't even look real!
Shipwrecks Beach, Kauai. So beautiful it doesn’t even look real!

We flew United in Economy to Honolulu out Denver. We snagged incredibly cheap tickets about 3 months in advance so for the price, Economy was bearable. We connected onto Hawaiian Airlines on to Lihue. We also returned to Honolulu for a few days before returning back to LAX from Honolulu. So throughout the whole trip, we got 3 visits to HNL and a good perspective on how bad the airport is.

Rather than feeling like a major airport, HNL felt more like a small regional airport; quite dated and with limited amenities. While some of the mid-century fixtures were charming, a nice remodel could go a long way in the terminals. Taking advantage of the pleasant Hawaiian weather year-round, a large portion of the terminals is outdoors. The gates are confined into individual air-conditioned areas but they are small and the seating is limited. There are very limited food options, even in the overseas terminal, and the bathrooms were filthy. Imagine transiting from the mainland to Asia through Honolulu and wanting to freshen up, only to find very dirty, dated restrooms!

The layout is disconnected with the overseas terminal, international arrivals, and inter-island terminals completely separate. There is an inter-terminal shuttle but it is usually about a 15 minute wait. The walk is outdoors and takes about the same amount of time as you would wait for the shuttle. There is also no free WiFi and even the paid WiFi was down while we were there. I found this to be quite irritating. Also, don’t plan on finding a spot to charge your phone unless you want to sit on the floor. United clearly did not install power ports like they do at nearly every other major airport they serve.

Through the entire trip, we checked in with both United and Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines utilizes self check-in kiosks and the attendants were friendly. Everything was efficient for the inter-island flights. TSA PreCheck was extremely quick each time. United on the other hand, was a huge hassle. Don’t forget to stop at the USDA station before heading to check your bags. The Premier Access line was incredibly slow and the staff unfriendly. I’ve never had a negative experience with United’s Premier Access bag-check so this was a first.

So long, Honolulu!
So long, Honolulu!

Honolulu definitely gets forgotten by the airlines due to the fact of a low number of business travelers and tons of tourists. There seems to be a low incentive to make updates to HNL since the tourists keep on flowing and the inter-island flights so vital to Hawaii’s economy. While the terminal facilities are among the worst I have seen, the good service by Hawaiian Airlines and the quick TSA PreCheck are bright spots for HNL.

Portland (PDX) to Fort Lauderdale – United – #FlightDeal or #MileageRun – Jan 2015 – $292 R/T – #StarAlliance

One night mileage run or a maybe just a mid-week getaway to South Florida? Other dates or longer stays are available for around $315.

Sample Departure Date: Tues, Jan 13, 2015

Sample Return Date: Wed, Jan 14, 2015

Airline: United

CPM:  5.3 CPM 

Total Base Mileage Earned: 5,474 Base Miles

Routing:PDX-DEN-FLL-IAH-PDX

Total Roundtrip Fare: $292

pdx-fll-jan132015

Sunday Was My Proof for the Naysayers That Airline Status Matters

For a lot of travelers, the point of flying is to get from Point A to Point B as quickly and as cheaply as possible. But for those of us travel hackers/mile hoarders/road warriors,  it’s much more than that. While my friends and family don’t criticize my obsession with miles and airline status, I’m sure there are those who find the hobby a complete waste of time and money. But this last weekend on my return to Dallas from Florida via Orlando (on July 4th weekend) was a prime example of why airline status is worth the effort and bit of cash.

While I’m only the lowly Premier Silver with United Airlines, the basic perks of simply Silver will save you all kinds of headaches. I’m sure most of you have been to Orlando as it’s one of the top travel destinations int the world. If you’ve been, you also know that it’s a very congested city due to all the attractions. And while Orlando International (MCO) is very well designed, it still doesn’t mean short lines and short waits for the average traveler. Our flight was an early one on this Sunday morning and while expected a crowd, I thought our pre-dawn departure would spare us slightly. Well, I was clearly surprised.

We approached the United ticketing counters to check one of our large bags at 5:00 AM. There were a minimum of 150-200 folks in line for United ticketing. Guess how many were in line at Premier Access? Two. Our bag was promptly checked in 2 minutes and we were on our way to security. Our next perk wasn’t directly related to airline status but to our Global Entry enrollment with the additional perk of TSA Precheck. That previous line at ticketing almost seemed like a breeze when we approached the TSA lines. There must have been 400-500 people in line, routing through ONE main queue line! Orlando’s has one central terminal with an “A” and “B” ticketing side. The PreCheck side is closer to “A” but we approached from “B” and both sides use the same TSA lines. We hurried over to the PreCheck side and were delighted when we only found 3 people in line for PreCheck! We were on our way to the concourse tram in just a couple of minutes and we easily avoided spending 45 minutes+ in line for TSA.

We skirted off for a quick coffee and onto our gate. We had plenty of time to move at our leisure thanks to our previous perks. We would have been far more rushed had we not had those perks. And to top it all off, we were upgraded to First on our IAH bound flight!

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Of course, this journey was an example of things going very much in our favor due to Elite status. However, the day wasn’t perfect as United did leave my checked bag behind in IAH and it was delayed. However, they did deliver it to my house just a few hours later. There were a few factors that did help make our experience even easier:

  • We were departing early on a Sunday morning
  • Orlando on a weekend means very few business travelers
  • Orlando is not a United hub/focus city, equaling small number of Elite travelers
  • Low time and day for Elite travelers and TSA PreCheck travelers

So for those of you newbie or light travelers who think that Elite status is just a waste of time, re-think about inserting status into your travel and miles strategy. It’s saving a ton in baggage fees alone! And don’t forget to do you research on status matches, it doesn’t hurt to politely ask!

 

Check Your Upcoming United Flights for Schedule Changes…..You Might Get a Free Flight Change!

For those of you with upcoming Fall 2014 travel with United Airlines, be sure to check your itineraries for schedule changes which occurred yesterday system wide. My upcoming trip to Hawaii in August was lucky enough to have a schedule change. This is the second change since booking to that itinerary by United’s schedule modifications. If my outbound connection gets any shorter, I’m in trouble!

If you are affected by United’s system schedule change, don’t be afraid to call United for a flight change. I’ve been successful in the past on getting on a more desirable departure time at no cost!