Airline Hubs

Jan 7th, 2004, 07:38 AM
  #1  
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Airline Hubs

I've read alot here about how to get cheap airfare. Some of the advice just goes over my head. I've only flown once in my life (around 12 years ago) so some of the information confuses me.

I will be flying from Houston to London RT unless I can afford to fly into Edinburgh and out of London. (Nov '04)

I've checked the IAH website to see which airlines depart and there are several. Please forgive my ignorance but how to begin? Which airlines websites should I be checking? What information is important for me to know before I book?

The title of my post is misleading but I can't figure out how to change it.

Thanks in advance for any help.
memejw is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 08:35 AM
  #2  
 
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The best way to start your reasearch is to go to the general travel sites such as:
www.expedia.com
www.orbitz.com
www.cheaptickets.com
www.travelocity.com
First do a straight R/T from Houston to London using the dates you want. The above sites will come back with their best offers and also tell you what airline/s are involved. Print-out the info.
Second, use the multicity option on the above sites and price an open jaw ticket, meaning, Houston to Edinburgh and London to Houston. In all probability these fares will be higher, but not necessarly more expensive. What I mean is that you have to consider the fact that you will only need one-way travel between Edinburgh and London, not 2 way and also you will have 1 extra day of vacation, instead of spending it backtracking to the other airport. Two very important reasons when comparing the different fares. Again the sites will list the best deals with all the info about which airlines seem to give the best options.
Now when you have that information, you could go to the individual airline sites and price the same itineraries. This option may save you few bucks as the above mentioned sites do have a service charge whereas the airline sites do not.
Good luck!
Once you have this worked out come back and ask for advice about what's the best way to travel between Edinburgh and London, either one-way or R/T.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 08:40 AM
  #3  
 
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Go to one of the major site for airfare--Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia are the big three. Travelocity is my favorite. Put in the days you want to travel and from where to where. Continental goes to London from Houston but they will search all airlines--play around with it awhile to see what you can get then go to Continental's site and do the same. You should be able to get a fairly low coach fare for that time of year, esp if you can avoid traveling on the weekend.
RachelG is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 10:36 AM
  #4  
 
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Good info above. IAH is a Continetnal hub - check www.continental.com - and they do fly to Edinburgh (IAH to Newark then Newark to Edinburgh.)
FYI, an "open jaw" is an itinerary where you fly into one city and return from another. Continental usually has pretty liberal policies when doing this. I just used the multiple cities option, plugged in IAH-EDI on 11/12/04 with return LGW-IAH on 11/18 and it returned a fare of $657, which isn't a bad deal at all
Seamus is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 12:07 PM
  #5  
 
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At the risk of sounding repetative, I think it's only worth checking out the big players... anything that you've never heard of, I'd be a little leary of.

I prefer orbitz, mainly because i find them the most reliable, generally the least expensive and also they're owned by several major airlines....

Booking online is easy, you should be able to find a flight to England for pretty cheap...
travelbug18 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:08 AM
  #6  
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Thanks everyone, especially AA.

Should I request paper tickets from the online site? I have purchased tickets online from ticketmaster with no problems once I got to the show. But this is a little different. A lot different.

How early should we get to the airport?

Can I get information about first time flyers somewhere online? Unless someone is there to direct me I will have no idea what to do. I don't mean to sound like I'm whining, but I get nervous in new situations. And yes, I am travelling to a new country so I know I will be overwhelmed with new experiences. But seriously, how complicated is it going to be?

I imagine that when I get to the airport there will be a sign telling me which terminal to go to. Do I check in immediately? Have to show my passport? Do they inspect your luggage then? Or just before you board?

What about when I get to London? Will I be directed somewhere?
memejw is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:42 AM
  #7  
 
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memejw, I prefer paper tickets for international travel since they can be adjusted easier, if need be.

Be sure to arrive IAH at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. You will see signs directing you to the passenger drop off area for the airline you are flying as you approach the IAH area. You can always confirm with one of the baggage handlers that you are in the right place for check-in before someone leaves you there.

Go directly to the check-in counter for your flight. You will need your passport. Be sure to put any sharp objects, or other questionable items in your checked baggage only. The agent will check you in, take your checked baggage and you will be left with your boarding pass for boarding the aircraft. Your checked baggage may or may not be hand screened. If you are selected for screening, they will tell you what to do. Ask the agent which direction you should go to find your gate.

You will need to go thru security on the way to your gate. Security may or may not screen your carry-on baggage by hand. After you pass security, then there will be signs directing you to the gate for your flight. All of this information will be listed on your boarding pass. Feel free to ask an airport/airline employee for assistance if you are unsure where to go.

Flights generally tend to board about 30 minutes prior to take-off, so be sure you allow plenty of time to pass thru security lines and arrive your gate before boarding begins.

You will need your boarding pass, and maybe your passport, for boarding. Any flight attendant will assist you from there.

Upon arrival at your destination, there will be signs directing you as to where to go for immigration and customs. If you are unsure, either ask someone or follow someone else from your flight. Everyone on your flight will have to go to the same places as you....immigration, customs, and more than likely, baggage claim.

Good luck to you!
Statia is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:51 AM
  #8  
 
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I try to get e-tickets if possible--you can print off your receipt anytime and not have to worry about losing the paper ticket. When you get to the airport, you will have to check in at the airline counter as you are going out of the country. They will check your passport, check in your luggage (most big airports in US don't make you open up your checked luggage anymore as they have really good x-ray/bomb sniffing machines that are automatic after the luggage is checked in), and give you your boarding passes. They will then tell you which gate to go to and how to get there. Then you will go through security where they will x-ray your bags. They may make you be wanded or take off your shoes. They may look through your carry-on. Don't worry--they are just doing their job.
Then you will just need to go to the gate and wait for your flight.
In London, you will go through customs--don't worry about finding it as everyone has to go through, and it is very clearly marked--there is truly no way to get lost.
Once you are through customs and have your luggage, you are out of the airport and can go to your hotel. I always take a cab after these long flights as I am tired, but you can take the subway if you like.
You sound very worried. Relax--it will all work out and you will have a wonderful time.
RachelG is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 10:19 AM
  #9  
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Statia: THANK YOU! >< I guess I just need to get a visual picture in my head of what to expect.

Rachel G: Yes, I am nervous. One reason is that I will have my 18 year old sister with me and feel responsible for everything. Looking back at my post I'm dizzy from all of the question marks!

I followed AA's suggestions (I think). It looks like flying out of Houston International my choices will be Continental, BA, or Northwest. Right now fares are listed at or below $600 PP. Add $60-$70 to fly into Edinburgh and depart from London. Once I've nailed down an itenerary I will see if it is better to train or plane it between cities. :-?

I checked Northwest and they had me switching to KLM Royal Dutch with a 2 hour layover in Amsterdam, then to Edinburgh. Does this seem strange to anyone?
memejw is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 11:22 AM
  #10  
 
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It seems like you're a quick learner

I would suggest flying into EDI for the $70 extra. It is worth every penny.

The KLM connection in Amsterdam is very normal. Not too may airlines fly directly to Edinburgh for US. I think Continental does in the summer from NYC. So no matter which airline you take, you will have to connect somewhere in Europe to EDI. Don't worry about it. Also most people think of Europe as many countries, which is only somewhat true. Europe is very fast becoming like our country. Think of all the western European countries as our states(almost). Anyway the connection is fine.

The fare you found is very good. Some others here may tell you to wait and possibly you may get a little better fare. But if you feel comfortable with the price and you want to get this over with, go for it.

If you tell us the days you want to travel, we may be able to find something better, or maybe not. It's up to you.

You are doing fine.

AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 01:53 PM
  #11  
 
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Relax--it's going to be fine. An 18-year-old with you is a good thing--two heads are usually better than one. I went on a transcontinental bus trip by myself at 18 (nobody flew back then unless you were very wealthy) and had no problems. I wouldn't let my 17-year-old do that today, but I would not hesitate to let him go to Europe next year by himself or with a friend. It's really not difficult, and so what if you get lost or things don't go perfect. It's a learning experience. Europe is wonderful. Just use common sense--if you can deal with Houston traffic, this should be a breeze.
RachelG is offline  
Jan 27th, 2004, 10:31 AM
  #12  
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Topping for any more first time flyer tips... Thanks everyone.
memejw is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 09:07 AM
  #13  
 
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Exciting, isn't it? I would opt for flight into Manchester if possible and take trains around UK. Remember, all of England is probably smaller than Houston!!! Kidding aside, the trains are not a good option is you are taking lots of luggage - lack of porters can make this option exhausting. Have a big time!!!!
wpcx2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2004, 03:31 PM
  #14  
 
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Here are some first-time flyer tips.

The trip is usually overnight and quite long, and many people have a hard time sleeping on planes. So bring something to entertain yourself, such as a paperback book or two. I like paperbacks because you can discard them when you are through and not have to carry them back.

Assuming you will be in tourist class, be aware that the seats are very cramped and you will find the back of the seat in front of you right in your face when they recline. Many people like an aisle seat, because you can try to stretch out your legs in the aisle; subject, of course, to not tripping everyone who uses the aisle. I don't find the window seats attractive, since there isn't much to see, except on takeoff and landing. Because the seats are also narrow, my wife and I always sit next to each other and raise the armrest between us; that makes the seats almost tolerable.

You can usually bring one piece of luggage and a personal item, such as a purse, and everything else has to be checked. A lot of people don't like to check baggage as they feel they will be delayed at their destination waiting for the luggage. The result of this is that the overhead bins are usually jammed and it is common that the last to board can't find space. Unless we have a really close connection (your checked baggage is routed to your final destination), such as a train you have to catch, we check our cases and carry on only a medium bag apiece, that fits under the seat in front of us. In those bags we keep our valuables, enough clothes and medicines to survive a day or two should our checked bags be lost (its never happened to us, knock on virtual wood), two bananas, and a liter of bottled water. The bananas are said to be good for phlebitis, which is a concern from being cramped for so long, and the water (one liter for the two of us; we have never needed it) is because there is a rumor that the plumbing system on planes harbors germs, so you should avoid drinking anything that is not bottled. Actually, the airline will provide more than enough food and drink so the water and any snacks are probably superfluous.

The days of dressing well for travel are over; you are going to be treated like a sardine, without the sauce, so dress accordingly. Actually, I have read that the security agency suggests exercise apparel, or sweats, although be advised that they make you remove the top when going through security.

Shortly before landing, the crew will distribute the forms you will have to have to get through customs and immigration, so have your passport available to put the data on the form.

My wife and I have a hard time sleeping on the plane, but when we get to Europe we are curious about where we are, and past being sleepy, so we just stay up that day, have an early dinner, and go to bed. When we wake up the next morning (European time) somehow we have acclimated, and we have not had any trouble with jet lag.

Some people advise taking sleeping pills on the flight; I am not a big fan of pills, so we don't. If you want to, ask your doctor which would be best for you. I also avoid alcohol before and during the flight, as I have read that it can make you uncomfortable in the atmosphere at altitude. Do take some gum. Many people, expecially if they have a cold, get real earaches during takeoff and landing; chewing (more precisely, swallowing) is said to help open the eustachian tubes and relieve the pressure imbalance.

Here I've made it sound horrible, and it really isn't. Your experiences in Europe will be well worth the slight inconvenience of the flight. Of course, best of all is a repositioning cruise; 14 to 18 days of cruise ship comfort to get to Europe. I hope we get to try it one of these years.
clevelandbrown is offline  
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