Warning – flying on budget airlines during the holidays could leave you stranded –

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Many people do not realize how risky it is when they book a ticket on a budget airline to fly during the holiday season. The problem with budget airlines is that when they break down or have weather problems no other airlines will back them up and provide their customers with alternate flights. So if you fly on Allegiant, Spirit, Southwest, and other low fare carriers and they have a mechanical problem or flight delay that keeps them from flying because the pilots have run out of flying hours, and you are stuck and have to wait until the airline has an empty space to rebook you. During the holiday travel season, the airlines run 100% full on most flights. This means you might have to wait 4 or 5 days to find an empty seat. Compare this to flying on a major airline such as United. If they cancel a flight they will try to get you on another one of their flights. However, they have reciprocating agreements with Delta and American to get you home if the other airlines have seats. You might be O.K. to be stuck for an extra 5 days in sunny Phoenix in the winter but what about if you are stuck in Fargo, ND?

American Airlines has a really cool map that shows you where you can travel with your frequent flyer miles –

American Airlines has put together a really easy way for you to figure out how to use your frequent flyer miles. The map lets you put in how many miles you want to use and the dates you want to travel. It will show you all the cities you can travel to and then you just select the city and the flights. It also allows you to check to see if business class seats are available in the advanced search option. Three cheers to AA for making it easier to use your frequent flyer miles. CLICK HERE to see the map.

Just say NO! When an airline offers you to buy frequent flyer miles –

This is the time of year the airlines will flood your inbox with offers to purchase frequent flyer miles. Generally speaking, the offers that airlines make this time of year to purchase miles are not a good deal. The rule of thumb is that if you pay more than 2 cents a mile you are paying too much for miles. For example, a business class saver ticket to Europe is 115,000 miles during the low season. If you pay 2 cents for 115,000 miles the cost of that business class ticket is $2,300. That is a really good deal.

The warning last week that American Airlines could cancel thousands of flights during the holidays was “Fake News” –

Last week this headline was splashing the airways, Facebook and travel blogs around the world. American Airlines did have a computer glitch that allowed thousands of pilots to be approved for time off around the holidays. The airline quickly responded and within hours had made the changes needed so no “catastrophe” would happen. I continue to be amazed how fast a mistake can turn into a snowball with social media.

Would you pay $900 and fly a flight to nowhere just to earn 1K Elite status on United Airlines? –

My son Matt is only $900 away from earning 1K elite status on United Airlines’ frequent flyer program. The question he is asking himself is should he spend the $900 before the end of the year and take a flight to nowhere so he can earn 1K status. Well my question to him is, “What does being 1K give you and how much is that worth?” It turns out 1K status on UA gives you almost unlimited free first-class upgrades on domestic flights plus free companion upgrades, free luggage, waived same day change fees, and the biggest benny is you get 6 Global Premier one-way upgrades that can be used to upgrade any United flight worldwide from Economy to Business. I estimate the value of this perk alone at over $10,000 if you fly three international flights per year. The bottom line is that spending $900 on one more flight this year is the best investment you can make, young man.

3 of every 10 hotel rooms goes empty every night –

The hotel industry is enjoying a very strong year again this year as hotel rates have been rising and occupancy rates are on the rise in most cities. Hotels continue to struggle with feast or famine as one day they are full and turning away guests and the next they are almost empty. Most people don’t realize that the average occupancy rate for the U.S. is approximately 68%, which means 3 of every 10 hotel rooms goes empty every night. This is why there is such a swing in hotel rates and why there are so many websites that offer so many different hotel rates. The good news for consumers is that in the past 3 years with low-interest rates, hotel developers have built hundreds of new mid-scale hotels around the country which adds to the number of rooms and puts more price pressure on the hotels to fill rooms. The more flexibility you have the greater options you have to find great hotel prices.

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