Best U.S. Airlines: 2013 Edition Unveiled By Airfarewatchdog

Eight weeks remain in 2013-including the busy holiday travel season-but apparently Airfarewatchdog has seen enough. Last week it announced its picks for the best, and worst, U.S. airlines of the year. The top three were Frontier, Virgin America and JetBlue with United ranking last.

For criteria, Airfarewatchdog looked at canceled flights, on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, denied boardings and customer satisfaction. Interestingly, top overall airline Frontier didn’t rank at the top of any individual category.The entire overall results:

  1. Frontier
  2. Virgin America
  3. JetBlue
  4. Alaska
  5. Southwest
  6. Delta
  7. AirTran
  8. US Airways
  9. American
  10. United

Money-Saving Strategies From Other Places That Work For Airports Too

Money-Saving Strategies

As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us enjoy the whole process of flying. Maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt when exploring a complex matrix of flights, airlines and prices. Perhaps exercising the survival skills that find power for electronic devices we bring along satisfies a primitive need. Whatever the reason, we like to fly. Some travelers like to fly so much that we spend more than we need to. A good battle plan combined with budgetary prowess learned from other activities can go a long way.

Eat before arriving
Frugal grocery store shoppers know that arriving hungry can lead to impulse buying, and most don’t even eat what they select until later. Arriving at the airport famished, maybe a bit earlier than normal to make up for sequester-induced lines, has trouble written all over it. Airport food courts are grounds for impulse buys. Forty pounds ago, I used that as an excuse to overdose on food I would have had serious guilt issues with if consumed elsewhere. A decent airport app like FlySmart can offer healthy suggestions.Bring an empty water bottle
Heading out on a hike, camping or just the drive to work, eco- and budget-friendly travelers bring a reusable water bottle. Head to the airport and many forget or don’t know that the same reusable bottle will indeed make it through the security screening process. In most cases, the $4 bottle of water at the conveniently located kiosk by the boarding gate costs more than a whole bunch of reusable water bottles. Concerned about the taste of that tap water found after screening? Go crazy and buy a self-filtering water bottle.

Let an expert help
This could be the “insert name of travel agent here” part of the story and, for many, that might be a good idea. Those comfortable with using an attorney for legal matters, an accountant for taxes or even a good mechanic for auto repairs could easily buy into that notion. For air travel, many of the sources we feature here like AirFareWatchdog, Kayak and others can go a long way to maximizing savings on airline fares – obviously a big ticket item in the whole scheme of things. Better yet, ask a local travel blogger based out of your hometown airport. Odds are they have it down to a science.

Leave time for the satellite lot
When going to a concert, major sporting event or local convention center, penny-wise drivers park remotely, realizing that convenience equals higher prices. Parking close to the terminal at almost any airport will cost dearly compared to the price of a secure, remote lot. AirportParking boasts savings of up to 70% off the price of terminal parking, and allows reservations and payment in advance. In Orlando, for example, terminal parking is $10 per day; remote parking from a number of lots is less than half the price.

The whole idea of applying money-saving strategies learned from other activities to air travel comes with a bonus too. We’re already comfortable with the process so applying does not require learning a new skill or forging a new path where no one has gone before.

Looking for some other money-saving ideas to use when at the airport? Check this video:


[Photo credit – Flickr user Grant Wickes]

Twitter Travel Feeds Can Lead To Savings

twitter

Organizing those we follow on Twitter into lists can help us sort relevant information on just about any travel topic. Helpful and engaged sources that work their Twitter feeds can add value to the time we spend online too. Grouping Twitter users into categories like “Fun,” “Movies” or “Sports” puts a focus on topics we find important. When it comes to travel, that same theory applies, as users can find the most current information, contacts to tap when problems come up and some of the best savings possible.

Here are some great travel feeds to follow on Twitter along with some recent tweets.


@Airfarewatchdog

Commonly tweeting savings and super discounted fares throughout the day via their Twitter feed, @Airfarewatchdog brings some amazing fares that travelers can’t find elsewhere. That’s because real people work there to find the best fares.

Still available: to $446 rt w/tax

@Airfarewatchdog also alerts followers to sales they might not otherwise know about, like this one posted recently:

New spring sale from Southwest

@TravelEditor
Travel tips and news from the editors of Independent Traveler flow freely from @TravelEditor with advice on saving money, as well as making the whole process of travel easy. Just yesterday, we saw:


A few tips for saving money on your next car rental:

For best results, avoid these 5 foods before flying:


@Wanderluster
Seattle’s Beth Whitman is founder of WanderTours and the Wanderlust and Lipstick, a website packed with inspiration and tours to exotic destinations for those who aim to be good world citizen.

Travel Hacking New Zealand: Finding Cheap Accommodation & Activities via

@ViatorTravel
Viator is a tour operator that understands the value of having a trusted resource you can rely on to help you find, research and book some of the world’s best travel experiences.

One of the qualities to look for in a viable Twitter source is frequency. On the hour, @ViatorTravel tweets money-saving tips. Some feature tours they sell, which stack up nicely compared to other tour operators, and some are simply budget-minded tips we can count on.

If you’re on a budget in you’ll have no problem finding free things to do (via )


@KidTravel
Nancy Schretter is founder and editor of the Family Travel Network and a mom of two. Via @KidTravel, she shares practical information on making family travel budgets work, where to go, and what to see with first-hand reports from destinations around the world.

Looking for a cool spring break trip? Round Up the Family for an All-Inclusive Ranch Vacation:


@Travelzoo

Tweeting some of the best travel deals worldwide, @Travelzoo alerts us to discount pricing on everything from hotels to car rentals, cruises and entertainment packages found on the Travelzoo website.

Take your stay up a notch. Luxe hotel for $90 off reg. rates.


Twitter's New Embeddable Timelines Put Twitter on Any Website


[Photo Credit- Flickr user joelaz]

Survey Suggests American Airlines Has Rudest Employees Among Domestic Carriers

flight attendantAccording to a recent Airfarewatchdog study, a preponderance of surveyed travelers think that of domestic air carriers, American Airlines has the “rudest employees.” United was a close runner-up, followed by Delta.

Ranking last (which in this case, means winner) is a four-way tie, between Alaska, JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America. Hmm. Seems budget airlines know how to bring it.

Here’s the full list polled in alphabetical order:

AirTran 4%
Alaska 2%
Allegiant 3%
American 25%
Delta 18%
Frontier 2%
JetBlue 2%
Spirit 10%
Southwest 6%
United 21%
US Airways 12%
Virgin America 2%

Our friends at Airfarewatchdog run these unofficial consumer surveys every now and then and this is a great snapshot of the general consumer psyche. Bear in mind though, this data is unsubstantiated and unverified, so take it with a grain of salt. In our experience, most of the airline employees regardless of the airline are pretty darn chipper.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Fabird Blue]

Hotel room price protection from familiar watchdog group

hotel room doorTravelers booking hotel rooms often use a variety of sources while trying to get the best price. Once satisfied that they have found the best price, they book it and forget it. What they don’t realize is that between booking and staying, the price may very well go down. A price drop might happen for a number of reasons and might be a limited-time offer too. Now, a new service tracks hotel pricing and automatically refunds the difference between what a traveler paid and the lower, sale price.

Tingo is the first hotel booking site that automatically rebooks hotel rooms at a lower price if the rate drops, and then automatically refunds the difference to travelers’ credit cards.

“Travelers could have saved millions last year had there been a simple system in place that automatically rebooked their rooms,” said Smarter Travel Media General Manager David Krauter in a release. “And that’s what Tingo does, by taking the gamble out of booking and refunding travelers’ money when rates drop.”

The deal is simple: Book a “Money Back” room and Tingo watches that room’s rate to see if it changes. If the price drops, Tingo rebooks that same room at the lower rate and refunds the difference to the booking credit card.

The process adds up to big numbers too. Using comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Worldwide, January 2012, Tingo estimates that in 2011 alone, Americans could have saved nearly $314 million if they had had access to a site like this.

“It’s a no-brainer,” adds Krauter. “And just to put it in perspective, $314 million would book the $2,000 per night Penthouse at The London NYC, straight through for the next 350 years.”

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is. Tingo is a sister site of Gadling favorite AirfareWatchdog, a site best known for tracking airline fares and notifying members when point-to-point fares become available that match what the member is willing to pay.

Hotel Tonight - Last Minute Booking Application



Flickr photo by Bob B. Brown