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    Is it safe to use my credit card online?
    Using your credit card on a secure web site is not only safe, but it is arguably safer than using your credit card anywhere else.  Your credit card number gets encrypted, so that if anybody is "listening" to your Internet communication, they will receive only a scrambled message.  Only the destination web site can decode the message.

    Compare that to the phone, where somebody listening will just hear you say your credit card number.  Compare it also to a retail outlet, where that receipt in the garbage is picked up by a third party, with your credit card number spelled out.

    The trick is to be certain that the site is secure.  If it isn't, you should never send your credit card over the Internet.  Your browser can tell you whether you are visiting a secure site.  For example, you may see a picture of a lock in its locked position at the bottom left hand corner of the screen.  This site is not secure (if you make a reservation through us, you will give us your credit card number by phone), so you may see a lock in its unlocked position.

    Some travel web sites are so confident that the security works (as I would be too) that they offer some kind of guarantee.  For example, if your credit card number is intercepted and then used, they may reimburse you up to $50 USD, which is the limit of your liability for most credit card companies.

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    Why might the ticket price change from when I put a reservation on hold until I buy the ticket?
    The fundamental rule here is that fares are not guaranteed until tickets are issued.  Airline fares are very dynamic - they change daily, and sometimes hourly.  The only way to guarantee the price is to buy the ticket.  Anytime you put a reservation on hold, you take a chance that the fare will be higher when you buy the ticket, even as soon as the following day.

    Some sites allow you to hold an actual reservation on a flight for about a day before buying the ticket.  In this scenario, you have one or more seats held in a particular booking class.  The fare may still change for that booking class, even though the seats themselves are held.  For example, a fare may expire at midnight the day you buy the ticket, so when you return the next day, the fare will have increased.

    Other sites save your itinerary but do not hold any seats until you buy the ticket.  On these sites the fare may change for two reasons:  (1) as above, the fare may change even for the same booking class -AND/OR- (2) the booking class available at the time you saved your itinerary may be sold out when you return to purchase the ticket.  Remember that saving the itinerary does not hold any seats.

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    Why do I need to give my credit card number just to put a reservation on hold?
    Travel web sites have opened up virtually all airline inventory to the general public.  Using the web, anybody at any time can hold a seat on just about any airline.  The requirement to input your credit card number is a measure to limit the number of reservations made by people who are not really serious about actually traveling on the flights in question.

    In general the travel sites will not charge your credit card until you actually buy the ticket(s).

    The credit card requirement is not a fundamental part of most fare rules - it is superimposed for the reasons above.  You can still put seats on hold without your credit card number by calling the airline directly, or by calling your travel agent.   Note that seats can only be held for the duration allowed by the fare rule, which is often for 1 day only.

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    What are premium seats, and who can reserve them?
    Premium seats are generally the most desired seats in the Coach cabin of an aircraft.  Frequent flyers generally prefer to sit near the front of the cabin, where most premium seats are located.  These seats are reserved for the airline's most frequent flyers, or for those paying the full coach fare.  In this way the airline can offer advance seat selection to everybody, but can still offer an extra perk for their best customers.

    Your frequent flyer number (or your full coach fare booking class) is the key to unlocking these seats in online reservation systems.  When you select a premium seat, your request will be sent to the airline and verified against your frequent flyer number and booking class.   If you qualify, the airline will reserve the seat you selected.  Otherwise the airline will either reserve no specific seat, or will select an alternative seat.  Make sure you return to review your reservation after it has been completed to confirm your seat assignment.

    I recommend using to help you choose the best available seat.

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    I made changes to my reservation through the airline directly.  Why aren't these changes reflected when I review my reservation online?
    The link between online reservation systems and airline computer systems is often a one-way link only.  If changes are made online, they are confirmed by the airline's computer.  If the airline makes a change directly, a message is often not sent back to the reservation system to update the file.  At the time of travel, what the airline's system says is what matters - not what the reservation system says.  If you have any doubts about your reservation, call the airline directly.

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    What is back-to-back ticketing?
    Back-to-back ticketing is expressly forbidden by most airlines. It occurs when flight coupons are intentionally not used or they are used out of sequence in order to circumvent airline fare rules. Back-to-back ticketing includes the following two common scenarios:

    • Scenario 1: Coupons Not Used
      • Suppose John wants to fly SFO-JFK April 11 and return April 13. The usual cost is on the order of $2000, because no Saturday night stay is included in the trip. The same airline offers a special fare of $400 round trip, provided John books 14 days in advance and stays over a Saturday night. John decides to buy two tickets:
                                                April 2000
                                           Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
        Ticket 1: SFO-JFK April 11 (A)                        1
                  JFK-SFO April 16 (B)      2  3  4  5  6  7  8
                                            9 10 11 12 13 14 15
        Ticket 2: JFK-SFO April 13 (C)     16 17 18 19 20 21 22
                  SFO-JFK April 17 (D)     23 24 25 26 27 28 29
        John plans to use (A) from Ticket 1 and (C) from Ticket 2 in order to complete his round trip itinerary. Each ticket costs $400, for a total of $800, so he saves $1200 off the cost of a full fare $2000 ticket. He does not use coupons (B) and (D). Note than John uses the first segment of each itinerary, because failure to use the first segment may result in the airline cancelling the remainder of the itinerary.

    • Scenario 2: Coupons Used Out of Sequence
      • Suppose John wants to fly SFO-JFK April 11 and return April 13. He wants to make the same trip the next week, that is, leaving April 18 and returning April 20. Normally each round trip ticket would cost $2000, for a total of $4000. As in Scenario 1, the same airline offers a special fare of $400 round trip, provided John books 14 days in advance and stays over a Saturday night. John decides to buy two tickets:
                                                April 2000
                                           Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
        Ticket 1: SFO-JFK April 11 (A)                        1
                  JFK-SFO April 20 (B)      2  3  4  5  6  7  8
                                            9 10 11 12 13 14 15
        Ticket 2: JFK-SFO April 13 (C)     16 17 18 19 20 21 22
                  SFO-JFK April 18 (D)     23 24 25 26 27 28 29
        John plans to use all four segments from these two tickets, but in the following order: {A C D B}. He thus makes the two trips for $800 instead of $4000, and saves $3200.

    The airlines are strongly opposed to back-to-back ticketing for the financial reasons you can see from the above examples. Whether back-to-back ticketing is actually illegal is a question you can ask your lawyer. You should be aware that back-to-back ticketing is against the rules of most airlines' frequent flyer programs. If an airline catches you using back-to-back ticketing, they may take away all your frequent flyer points and any status you have in their frequent flyer program. They may also charge you or your travel agent the full fare for both tickets. If you buy both tickets on the same airline and provide your frequent flyer number, it is extremely easy for the airlines to link your two reservations and discover what you're doing. If you buy each ticket on a different airline, it may be harder for the airlines to find out.

    Back-to-back ticketing is very different from End-on-End Combinations, which are allowed by most airline fare rules. End-on-end combinations do not involve duplicate city pairs, but rather are used for fare construction via an intermediate city point. Tickets purchased with end-on-end combinations are used in the proper sequence.

    Note: does not endorse back-to-back ticketing, and will not issue back-to-back tickets for any of its clients.

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    Can you suggest other Internet resources for air travel information?
    Good resources:

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