When is an airfare the lowest? Also, cruise wholesaler fined

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the May 2015 issue.
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The haunted, 152-foot-tall Great Isaac Cay Lighthouse, built in 1852, sits on the northern end of the Bahamas’ Bimini archipelago. Photo: ©ftlaudgirl/123rf

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 471st issue of your monthly foreign travel magazine.

This is a publication that has always depended upon its subscribers for the articles and letters that fill up most of the pages in each issue. It’s a group-participation project, so much so that our readers are comfortable to make suggestions on how to improve it. 

So when subscribers express opinions about what they find rewarding or, sometimes, displeasing, in a particular issue, not only do we listen, we are encouraged that they care enough about ITN to take the time to tell us about it.

ITN subscribers comprise a diverse group, from independent travelers to those who take tours exclusively and from people who travel on a shoestring budget to the deluxe-travel set. All, however, share a love of travel, a desire to inform other travelers and, once a month, the common experience of reading this magazine.

Thank you for continuing to support ITN and share your travel experiences, advice and ideas, not to mention your reactions to what you see in ITN. We find everyone’s voice valuable.

 

Here’s some information that might save you a buck or two.

A year ago, in the May issue, I wrote about the optimum number of days before a flight when airline ticket prices in the US are likely to be at their lowest, as determined in a study by the flight-booking website CheapAir.com. The results of its latest study were released on Feb. 11, and the numbers have changed a bit.

Of the almost five million US domestic flights listed on the website throughout 2014, CheapAir tracked the prices of all of the economy-class seats each day, from the first day each flight was listed, 320 days before departure, up until the day before the flight took place. Totaling up all the daily ticket prices on all those seats throughout the year, information on more than 1.5 billion airfares was collected.

Previously, analyzing data from 2013, CheapAir found that, on average, domestic airfares were at their lowest 54 days before the date of a flight. In 2014, CheapAir found, airfares were at their lowest 47 days before a flight.

In general, at 320 days out, when tickets first went on sale for a flight, the ticket for each economy-class seat was roughly $50 more expensive than its eventual lowest price. As the months passed, prices slowly dropped until 47 days before the flight, after which prices noticeably began to rise. At two weeks before the flight, prices began to increase sharply, eventually reaching up to $200 higher than the fare was at its cheapest.

CheapAir notes that the 47-day point was not the rule but the average point at which ticket prices were lowest. Overall, however, prices generally were found to be lowest all the way from 114 days before the flight to 27 days before the flight, what the website calls the “prime booking window.” The price of any flight was almost certainly to be lowest somewhere during that period. 

Regarding international flights, CheapAir looked at nearly two million flights, but each region was studied separately.

Seats on international flights were most often listed by airlines 335 days before each departure, and, more so than with domestic flights, CheapAir found that, in most regions, prices tended to grow higher the closer it got to the date of the flight.

For international flights from the US, on average, tickets to Canada were cheapest 47 days before each flight. Tickets to South America were cheapest 96 days before each flight; to the Caribbean, 144 days before; Middle East locations, 213 days; Australia and the South Pacific, 244; Mexico, 251; Africa, 262, and Europe, 276 days. Tickets to Asia were cheapest at 318 days in advance of each flight.

While airfares for both domestic and international flights trended up as the departure date approached, the uptick for international fares started much earlier, with a sharp rise in prices starting, on average, at about 90 days before each flight.

All that being said, if you wait too long to book, there may be no more seats. Happy hunting!

 

In the final article of his column “The Cruising World” (Nov. ’14, pg. 58), former Contributing Editor Lew Toulmin wrote about Caribbean Cruise Line, one of the wholesalers promoting “free” or low-cost 2-night cruises from Florida to the Bahamas aboard the Bahamas Celebration.

While the cruise was a legitimate offer, the real reason the company was promoting it — via phone solicitations, mobile phone texts and mass mailings across the US and Canada — was to push Florida timeshare tours and presentations, attendance at which was later insisted upon as a condition of getting the “free” cruise.

Furthermore, the phone solicitors kept calling people back who had refused the offer or solicitors called to “upsell” customers to higher-price cabins.

(For the record, Caribbean Cruise Line [Ft. Lauderdale, FL; www.caribbeancl.com] is not connected with the well-known line Royal Caribbean International or the former American Canadian Caribbean Line.)

Well, in early March, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a fine of more than $500,000 on Caribbean Cruise Line for making what they described as “billions” of robocalls, averaging 12 to 15 million calls per day. 

Solicitors disguised these calls as political surveys to get around the restrictions of the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (888/382-1222, www.donotcall.gov). After the short survey, the caller would ask the survey respondent to press a number in order to receive a free cruise as a reward for participating. 

By disguising sales calls as surveys, the FTC said Caribbean Cruise Line broke federal law.

 

Speaking of Lew Toulmin, you may recall that he spent the last few years living and working in Vanuatu, a country in the Southwest Pacific. After hearing about the devastating cyclone there in mid-March, I emailed to ask how he was.

He wrote back on March 17 from Silver Spring, Maryland, saying, “I left Port Vila for the USA at the end of my government contract, on Feb. 28, arriving in DC on March 1, missing Cyclone Pam by about nine days. My coworkers and friends are apparently OK.

“I have just received word from a good friend of mine that the capital is devastated and that my Port Vila apartment — a 2-story concrete structure that was touted as disaster-proof and in which I lived on the ground floor — in fact had the second-floor roof torn off. Many less-well-built structures were completely destroyed.

“The main worry in the out islands is not so much the homes, which can be rebuilt fairly quickly with local natural materials, but the ‘gardens,’ where each family harvests yams, kava, tapioca, coconuts, island cabbage and other staples of life. If those are generally OK, then life goes on, but if the gardens are destroyed, then life is very tough, indeed. Apparently, many were destroyed.”

Lew added, “The Red Cross is strong in Vanuatu and does good work.”

 

CORRECTIONS to note —

• We offer our apologies to Mr. Klaus Billep, Chairman of the Travelers’ Century Club, who was misidentified in a photo caption in the April 2015 issue, page 45.

• The item “Francis I Collection” (April ‘15, pg. 61), about an exhibit at the Château Royal de Blois in France, stated, “The château… has been home to seven French kings… since Louis XII in 1462.” 

David Cox of Bellingham, WA, pointed out that in 1462 the king of France was Louis XI. Mr. Cox is correct. Louis XII (Louis XI’s son-in-law) was the first monarch to make his home in the château, having been born there in 1462, but he would not actually become king until years later.

Due to a mixup last month and our printing a notice on page 60 with LAST year’s deadline, the deadline for responding to this year’s Where Were You in 2014? poll and contest for prizes will be extended a month. 

Subscribers, you now have until May 26, 2015, to send us a list of all of the countries you visited anytime from January 1 to December 31, 2014. Email editor@intltravelnews.com (include your full mailing address) or write to Where Were You in 2014?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. 

Results of the poll — and winners of prizes in the drawings — now will be announced here in the August issue.

By the way, from our tabulations so far, out of the 196 countries on The ITN Official List of Nations, our subscribers have reported visiting all of them last year except for the following: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria and Timor-Leste. If you set foot in any of those places in that time period, let us know.

 

Before I close, I want to tell you about a new feature that has been added to our website. 

In addition to having full access to content of the latest issues, subscribers now may view PDFs (copies) of all of the pages of the latest issues as they were published.

Some people will appreciate the experience of reading an issue page by page from front to back online, with the full array of advertisements visible, just as they do with the printed magazine. We also are able to show the pictures in color.

Let us know what you think.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
The haunted, 152-foot-tall Great Isaac Cay Lighthouse, built in 1852, sits on the northern end of the Bahamas’ Bimini archipelago. Photo: ©ftlaudgirl/123rf

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 471st issue of your monthly foreign travel magazine.

This is a publication that has always depended upon its subscribers for the articles and letters that fill up most of the pages in each issue. It’s a group-participation project, so much so that our readers are comfortable to make suggestions on how to improve it. 

So when subscribers express opinions about what they find rewarding or, sometimes, displeasing, in a particular issue, not only do we listen, we are encouraged that they care enough about ITN to take the time to tell us about it.

ITN subscribers comprise a diverse group, from independent travelers to those who take tours exclusively and from people who travel on a shoestring budget to the deluxe-travel set. All, however, share a love of travel, a desire to inform other travelers and, once a month, the common experience of reading this magazine.

Thank you for continuing to support ITN and share your travel experiences, advice and ideas, not to mention your reactions to what you see in ITN. We find everyone’s voice valuable.

 

Here’s some information that might save you a buck or two.

A year ago, in the May issue, I wrote about the optimum number of days before a flight when airline ticket prices in the US are likely to be at their lowest, as determined in a study by the flight-booking website CheapAir.com. The results of its latest study were released on Feb. 11, and the numbers have changed a bit.

Of the almost five million US domestic flights listed on the website throughout 2014, CheapAir tracked the prices of all of the economy-class seats each day, from the first day each flight was listed, 320 days before departure, up until the day before the flight took place. Totaling up all the daily ticket prices on all those seats throughout the year, information on more than 1.5 billion airfares was collected.

Previously, analyzing data from 2013, CheapAir found that, on average, domestic airfares were at their lowest 54 days before the date of a flight. In 2014, CheapAir found, airfares were at their lowest 47 days before a flight.

In general, at 320 days out, when tickets first went on sale for a flight, the ticket for each economy-class seat was roughly $50 more expensive than its eventual lowest price. As the months passed, prices slowly dropped until 47 days before the flight, after which prices noticeably began to rise. At two weeks before the flight, prices began to increase sharply, eventually reaching up to $200 higher than the fare was at its cheapest.

CheapAir notes that the 47-day point was not the rule but the average point at which ticket prices were lowest. Overall, however, prices generally were found to be lowest all the way from 114 days before the flight to 27 days before the flight, what the website calls the “prime booking window.” The price of any flight was almost certainly to be lowest somewhere during that period. 

Regarding international flights, CheapAir looked at nearly two million flights, but each region was studied separately.

Seats on international flights were most often listed by airlines 335 days before each departure, and, more so than with domestic flights, CheapAir found that, in most regions, prices tended to grow higher the closer it got to the date of the flight.

For international flights from the US, on average, tickets to Canada were cheapest 47 days before each flight. Tickets to South America were cheapest 96 days before each flight; to the Caribbean, 144 days before; Middle East locations, 213 days; Australia and the South Pacific, 244; Mexico, 251; Africa, 262, and Europe, 276 days. Tickets to Asia were cheapest at 318 days in advance of each flight.

While airfares for both domestic and international flights trended up as the departure date approached, the uptick for international fares started much earlier, with a sharp rise in prices starting, on average, at about 90 days before each flight.

All that being said, if you wait too long to book, there may be no more seats. Happy hunting!

 

In the final article of his column “The Cruising World” (Nov. ’14, pg. 58), former Contributing Editor Lew Toulmin wrote about Caribbean Cruise Line, one of the wholesalers promoting “free” or low-cost 2-night cruises from Florida to the Bahamas aboard the Bahamas Celebration.

While the cruise was a legitimate offer, the real reason the company was promoting it — via phone solicitations, mobile phone texts and mass mailings across the US and Canada — was to push Florida timeshare tours and presentations, attendance at which was later insisted upon as a condition of getting the “free” cruise.

Furthermore, the phone solicitors kept calling people back who had refused the offer or solicitors called to “upsell” customers to higher-price cabins.

(For the record, Caribbean Cruise Line [Ft. Lauderdale, FL; www.caribbeancl.com] is not connected with the well-known line Royal Caribbean International or the former American Canadian Caribbean Line.)

Well, in early March, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a fine of more than $500,000 on Caribbean Cruise Line for making what they described as “billions” of robocalls, averaging 12 to 15 million calls per day. 

Solicitors disguised these calls as political surveys to get around the restrictions of the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (888/382-1222, www.donotcall.gov). After the short survey, the caller would ask the survey respondent to press a number in order to receive a free cruise as a reward for participating. 

By disguising sales calls as surveys, the FTC said Caribbean Cruise Line broke federal law.

 

Speaking of Lew Toulmin, you may recall that he spent the last few years living and working in Vanuatu, a country in the Southwest Pacific. After hearing about the devastating cyclone there in mid-March, I emailed to ask how he was.

He wrote back on March 17 from Silver Spring, Maryland, saying, “I left Port Vila for the USA at the end of my government contract, on Feb. 28, arriving in DC on March 1, missing Cyclone Pam by about nine days. My coworkers and friends are apparently OK.

“I have just received word from a good friend of mine that the capital is devastated and that my Port Vila apartment — a 2-story concrete structure that was touted as disaster-proof and in which I lived on the ground floor — in fact had the second-floor roof torn off. Many less-well-built structures were completely destroyed.

“The main worry in the out islands is not so much the homes, which can be rebuilt fairly quickly with local natural materials, but the ‘gardens,’ where each family harvests yams, kava, tapioca, coconuts, island cabbage and other staples of life. If those are generally OK, then life goes on, but if the gardens are destroyed, then life is very tough, indeed. Apparently, many were destroyed.”

Lew added, “The Red Cross is strong in Vanuatu and does good work.”

 

CORRECTIONS to note —

• We offer our apologies to Mr. Klaus Billep, Chairman of the Travelers’ Century Club, who was misidentified in a photo caption in the April 2015 issue, page 45.

• The item “Francis I Collection” (April ‘15, pg. 61), about an exhibit at the Château Royal de Blois in France, stated, “The château… has been home to seven French kings… since Louis XII in 1462.” 

David Cox of Bellingham, WA, pointed out that in 1462 the king of France was Louis XI. Mr. Cox is correct. Louis XII (Louis XI’s son-in-law) was the first monarch to make his home in the château, having been born there in 1462, but he would not actually become king until years later.

Due to a mixup last month and our printing a notice on page 60 with LAST year’s deadline, the deadline for responding to this year’s Where Were You in 2014? poll and contest for prizes will be extended a month. 

Subscribers, you now have until May 26, 2015, to send us a list of all of the countries you visited anytime from January 1 to December 31, 2014. Email editor@intltravelnews.com (include your full mailing address) or write to Where Were You in 2014?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. 

Results of the poll — and winners of prizes in the drawings — now will be announced here in the August issue.

By the way, from our tabulations so far, out of the 196 countries on The ITN Official List of Nations, our subscribers have reported visiting all of them last year except for the following: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria and Timor-Leste. If you set foot in any of those places in that time period, let us know.

 

Before I close, I want to tell you about a new feature that has been added to our website. 

In addition to having full access to content of the latest issues, subscribers now may view PDFs (copies) of all of the pages of the latest issues as they were published.

Some people will appreciate the experience of reading an issue page by page from front to back online, with the full array of advertisements visible, just as they do with the printed magazine. We also are able to show the pictures in color.

Let us know what you think.