Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eat, Pray, Fly!

My author friend, Patty, is flying down to Ecuador in the month of June to write her version of the book Eat, Pray, Love. She’s fluent in Spanish and will be staying at a nearby hostel. When I spoke with her last night, she asked me about the best way to fly to Ecuador and how to find the cheapest ticket. I covered some of that information in the book, but here are some more “cheap ticket” ideas:

*Book your ticket on a Tuesday, actually to be
precise (Wednesday at 1:00 a.m.). After that time the various airlines go into price-war mode and the tickets will start to escalate—reaching a peak on Monday.

*Try to schedule your flight on a Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday for the cheapest fare or if it’s a short flight, Thursday to Sunday works best.

*Keep with one airline. We use American Airlines because we’re accumulating air miles. But obviously if there’s a flight for $416 versus $700, we’ll book on the cheaper airline.

*Overnight flights are less expensive (but you already knew that). No one likes to take the red eye, but sometimes it works out for the best.

*Look for an airline that puts you at your destination in the morning. The good thing about an overnight flight is the fact that you arrive at your destination in the a.m., which means you don’t have to spend the night in Quito or Guayaquil.

One of the flights I looked at from Philadelphia to Guayaquil, puts you in Guayaquil at 11:00 a.m.; however there’s a 9-hour layover in the Miami airport. It’s a trade-off. Do you want to spend 9 hours in the Miami airport or arrive in the evening at Guayaquil and spend the night? As a writer, I love being stuck in airports and watching people, but others would rather NOT!

*American Airlines and LAN airlines have cheap tickets code-share agreements, so you can still rack up the frequent flyer miles. Personally, I would rather take LAN airlines any day of the week. Their airbuses are wonderful, the service is exceptional and the crew is always professional and kind. American Airlines has the great distinction of being the “meanest” airline in the skies and missed being the worst airline second only to United. I’m not sure what happened to the "friendly skies," but better choices might be Copa or Continental.

*Book on CheapTickets. With few exceptions, booking on CheapTickets has been our best bet. The only exception is if you go directly into the airline site (i.e., AmericanAirlines) and book directly from them. Sometimes the airlines will have a cheaper price by $20 or so, but not always.

*Be flexible on dates and times. When you book a flight make sure you leave the times flexible, that way it will bring up a list of all the flights ranging from daytime flights to the red eye. Of course, the “sleepy” flights will always be cheaper.

For June 1-29, 2011, I found a ticket with LAN/American from Philly to Guayaquil for $646 ($759 including tax and fees). Tickets in that time frame ranged from $646 to $1,500, which is not too bad for the summer months. However, two months ago, I was able to find a ticket for $416 (roundtrip), but I think we won’t be seeing those prices for a while.

There are some good deals out there; it just takes some researching. Month to month and week to week the prices change. Many airlines allow you to bring up a window to check the fluctuations during the month to find the lowest price. You can also subscribe to FareCompare, Yapta or Kayak to track prices. For instance, in the months of October-November, the cheapest time to fly is on October 28th. You can even sign up for their alert e-mails to let you know when a particular flight is hitting an all time low.

If you’re willing to be flexible with your flying dates and times and you’re willing to fly the “not so friendly skies,” you just might be able to snag a good deal and write your version of the book, “Eat, Pray and Fly."

Until next time...hasta luego!


Carolyn said...

Connie, I recently subscribed to your blog because I think it is one of the best on living in Ecuador.

After reading today's post, I felt compelled to make a comment. I am a recently retired flight attendant for many many years in the friendly skies.

I understand why the flying public has issues with airlines. However, there is another side of the story. If the public knew what we deal with maybe there would be a little understanding. Most of us want to do a good job and try.

When you do a job, you need the right tools and staffing. Respect from management and the flying public. I don't think most of us started out wanting to be the" nastiest" flight attendant in the air. Not a goal. Not even the airline. We are not only there for food and beverage services but also for your personal safety should there be an emergency. Every year year we are required to review that training and in fact learn whatever new techniques required by the FAA.

Most of us got back on a plane a few days after 9/11. Not easy. New York is my home. The weeks of smelling the ashes in the air, stinging eyes, walking through a couple of streets in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, seeing the pictures of the dead firemen, displayed in the windows of the houses I passed, going to the train to get to JFK for my flight that day, I know affected me.

For a brief time everyone was respectful. Were we concerned about another hijacking? You bet we were. Flying out of JFK to international destinations, Asia, Europe, South America, etc. constantly assessing "situations" was at times nerve racking and stressful. The cabin crew the most vulnerable.

The understaffing on flights when security was an issue. international layovers meant always vigilant, and there were incidents there also.

So that's my side respectfully.

Connie Pombo said...


Thanks so much for your comments and for allowing us a glimpse into the other side of flying. Most of us don't take into consideration what goes on behind the scenes and your compelling story of what it was like after the days of 911 certainly gives all of us pause for reflection.

Thank you for all your years of service with American Airlines and we certainly hope that you can make it to Ecuador for a visit sometime.

Warmest regards,


Sue and Pat said...

Good advice, Connie. I agree about LAN Airlines. I would advise anyone looking for the cheapest fare. Make sure if you have to make a connection that enough time is allowed to make that connection (I would say a minimum of 2-3 hours). That is what landed us unexpectedly in Aruba for 5 days--not enough time was allowed to make the connection, especially since we had collect our baggage, go through customs, and re-check our bags.

Connie Pombo said...

Good point, Sue! But what a great place to spend 5 days -- Aruba!! I've missed so many flights through the years because the connecting flights were so close. So glad you made it here..think of it as a vacation from your vacation!

Lilly said...

Considering that mental health and physical beeing are sometimes more important than money, I prefere non-stop (Miami - Quito, for example). Non-stop and convinient schedule - I would pay extra for this features anytime. As for food at the airplane (airline doesn't matter) - it is chemicalized masse, resembling food, I woudnt eat it even if I would be paid to do so.
Money saved VS People putting themselves in hardship with red-eye and/or multiple stop flight.
what is more important?
This argument based on assumption - if you have money for airline ticket(however cheap it might be) and for stay in foreign country for few weeks - you do have money.

Connie Pombo said...

Good thoughts, Lilly! Yes, I agree. Airline food is interesting stuff; we always bring ours on board because you just never know. ;-)

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