Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beat the Fees.

It wasn't long after I wrote the previous post that things changed. If you still plan to purchase airline tickets for domestic travel within the U.S. and Canada, then make sure to double check your airline's new policy changes. (See previous post).

US Airways recently announced that passengers booking flights after July 9th will have to pay $15 for the first checked bag, and starting in August, coach passengers will have to pay $2 per non-alcoholic drink. (This includes water).

United quickly followed suit and will now charge $15 for the first checked bag on domestic flights.

Dont' Despair: This is still one of the best summers to buy an airline ticket to Europe. Just check our airline widget in the left hand column for low fares to the Alps. Today's Newark to Munich fare was only $590 roundtrip at the time of this writing. (Less than $600 to Munich? Aren't airlines supposed to be struggling?)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nickel and Dimed: Airline Fees to Know Before You Go.

I’ve heard a lot of questions lately regarding the new airline policies for checked luggage. In general, passengers on most airlines can no longer check two pieces of luggage free of charge. In many cases, passengers may check the first bag free of charge, but the second bag costs $25. Prices for additional checked bags also increased dramatically, as did the fees for oversize/overweight bags. It pays to know before you go.

A few airlines have also increased their fees, and/or added new fees, for simple luxuries such as, window and aisle seats, comfortable legroom, over-the phone-bookings, and more. The bottom line is that airlines continue to struggle and they’re trying to nickel and dime their passengers to make up the difference. How much do their CEO’s continue to earn despite our unbalanced transportation system? Sorry, I digress.

The good news is that most international travelers can still check two bags free of charge. Beware though, because if you change airlines in the U.S and have to recheck your bags, then you may have to pay a surcharge for the domestic leg of your journey.

Personally, I recommend that international travelers fly with one bag anyway. I also hope that these new policies cut down on the amount of baggage that flows daily through our airports. It’s better for everybody from many perspectives.

Just look at the photo from last year's Dolomites Trek. This group actually traveled relatively light with only one bag per person.



The light way is the right way in my book, though skis and snowboards will always be a challenge worth paying a little extra for.

The other good news is that this fee does not apply to all people on all flights. While policies vary, the charge is generally limited to passengers sitting in economy class seats on flights in North America. The policies also tend to exclude elite members of frequent flier programs, and they do not apply to anyone flying in business or first class.

The policy change first started with U.S. Airways, but then quickly spread to American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest, and United. Several smaller carriers also enacted similar policies including, Air Canada, Alaska Air, Air Tran and JetBlue.

The following Travelocity FAQ lists the most current changes to airline policy. You can go straight from their page to the carrier’s website, (Or click on one of our links above). Give them a look if you’re in doubt. It just might pay to double-check your particular airline before heading out the door.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Trekking Poles on Sale!

If you don't have trekking poles then go buy them now. You'll be amazed by the extra strength and longevity they offer your body. We consider them essential gear for our hiking tours and mandatory for preventing knee problems.

Check out Sierra Trading Post's closeout sale on Austrian-made, Komperdell trekking poles.

A good pair of cork-gripped lightweight poles will usually run between $90 and $130.

Sierra Trading Post has this pair for only $54.95. That's 38% off the regular price of $89.95.














Looking for something even less expensive? How about the Denali for only $44.95? This model features a standard polyethylene grip.










Two poles are better than one. Make sure to buy a pair, because some poles are priced individually. You really need one in each hand in order to enjoy the full physiological benefits that trekking poles offer.

You can see all of the closeout models by clicking here. Or visit sierratradingpost.com and just enter "trekking poles" in their search engine.

To compare specs, or for more information regarding Komperdell trekking poles, visit komperdell.com