TAMPA, Fla. — A recent article in The Wall Street Journal claims that buying two separate airline tickets for international travel is often less expensive than buying one ticket. It’s an airline tactic known in the travel business as “hidden cities”. Although this may be true, author Scott McCartney warns that the strategy comes with serious trade-offs that could cost one dearly. That begs the question: Just how dear is dearly?
“They’re not for everybody,” Says Ron Algood, a travel industry expert in Tampa with more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry.
Algood says that hidden cities are no secret. They’re gateway cities that are cheaper launch-points for international travel. Savvy travelers have known about them for years. A good travel agent will normally disclose their price-points. He says a great travel agent, however, will share their downside risks as well. He reveals that airlines are under no obligation to honor a no-show passenger, especially when the missed connection is due to a self constructed itinerary.
“Even worse,” He says, “if you’re a no-show on the outbound international flight, that airline will most likely cancel your return flight as well. That’s a hefty price to pay; a price that could run into the thousands of dollars.”
And according to Algood, most travelers are not willing or able to pay those kinds of penalties. Whereas The Wall Street Journal briefly disclosed those risks, Algood points to the fact that a seasoned travel agent can help avoid those risks altogether.
“Self-constructed itineraries are a more acceptable practice to college students flying on the cheap,” Algood says. “They don’t mind an overnight at a gateway city on their way to backpacking through Europe or Asia. But a party of four taking their family vacation to Europe or Hawaii doesn’t have that luxury. Unpacking and repacking, plus paying for additional hotel nights times four can add up quickly. Then imagine a no-show fee in the thousands of dollars times four; that’s a nightmare.”
According to Algood, there’s a much smarter way.
“Most vacationers need hotels or condos included in their vacation,” Algood says. “By allowing a wholesaler to ticket the airline portion of their itinerary as part of an air-hotel package, they’re sharing in the responsibility of getting the customers to their destination. Pleasant Holidays is just one good example of a reputable wholesaler that packages Australia, Hawaii, and now Europe. A savvy travel agent knows several, each one specializing in different parts of the world.”
“Moreover, packaged air-fares usually offer add-on fares from most major cities in the United States,” Algood reiterated. “Yes, you may pay a little more, but it’s worth the peace of mind. In most cases, knowing that the long awaited family vacation or Honeymoon will not be devastated by amateur piecemeal tactics is worth it.”
Algood also strongly urges travelers to buy travel insurance from a reputable insurance provider. Doing so covers not only medical treatments incurred overseas, but also the investment of the vacation itself. He notes that most airline tickets are non-refundable or have major penalties for canceling, but that’s not the only reason to buy travel insurance.
“The Savvy traveler will protect his or her investment with travel insurance,” Algood says. “Reliable policies also include coverage for cancellations due to illness of the passenger or immediate family member, missed connections, and even lost luggage. Additionally, most people’s medical insurance does not cover them outside of the United States; travel insurance does. I would never travel abroad without it. Travelex is one of the best; plus for convenience, they have money exchange booths set up at most gateway cities.”
Ron Algood is a Tampa native and a graduate of The University of South Florida with a concentration in public relations. He has traveled the World extensively and worked as a travel consultant for more than 25 years. His specialties are leisure travel, cruises, and unique honeymoon destinations. Besides being a travel industry expert, he teaches modern ballroom dancing and specializes in first wedding dances.