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What’s the difference between Basic Economy and regular Economy?

Bargain-hunting higher flyers might, while planning their next adventures, come across airfares that are so good that they’re too good.  Budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier (in)famously offer such cheap prices, but they also inundate their customers with fees in order to generate additional revenue.  That’s to be expected, but sometimes you’ll see legacy carriers like American, Delta, and United selling flights at prices comparable to those low-cost rivals.  While such deals might look particularly enticing — especially when you consider that these three have better reputations than Spirit — you have to be wary of the catch(es).  These discounted tickets, known as basic economy fares, are heavily restricted and can seriously hurt your ability to fly higher.  But but but!  If you know what you’re getting in to, they can also represent outstanding values.

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What’s the difference between Economy Plus and Premium Economy?

The most common question I get from THF Consulting clients is:  “what’s the difference between economy plus and premium economy?  There is none, right?”  While the names are quite similar, they’re not interchangeable; in terms of quality, the latter is miles ahead when it comes to the hard product… and in theory, the soft product too.  The two nevertheless are better than regular economy, but that’s not always clear on paper.  In order to maximize your purchasing power as a traveler/your higher flyer potential, it’s important to be aware of those differences so that you always know what kind of airfare you’re buying.

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DoubleTree hotels are nice and boring

A recent review on the The Higher Flyer has prompted a few to ask:  “what’s wrong with DoubleTree hotels?” and as a follow up:  “why do you hate them?”  Well, despite what my review of the DoubleTree in Madrid may imply, the answer is a resounding “nothing.”   Nothing is wrong with Hilton’s business-traveler-centric brand and I’d gladly stay in one if presented the opportunity.  That said though, these hotels don’t really lend themselves well to scenes of higher flying; they don’t evoke visions of luxury like Waldorf Astorias do, nor do they offer the incredible value that Hampton Inns do.  DoubleTrees instead are synonymous with bland-yet-practical accommodations for the well-paid road warriors of the world.

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American Airlines “StrAAnds” Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia

American Airlines’s pathetic operational reliability record isn’t exactly a new development, and complaints have long been streaming in from major media outlets, “higher flyer” bloggers, and angry mobs in the Twittisphere.  Now the Dallas Cowboys, as of the evening of December 22, have every right to complain as well.  In addition to the delays that it has subjected its many millions of passengers to, AA has now failed one of the most famous (or rather infamous?) sports teams in the world.

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Should you buy trip insurance? No!

When you go to book a flight, it’s not uncommon to be prompted to purchase trip insurance on top of your fare.  If you decline the option, you might get a warning:  “You may be responsible for cancellation fees and delay expenses” or, if that doesn’t scare you enough, “The average out-of-pocket costs of medical emergency transportation outside the United States can be as high as $25,000.”  Those are potentially frightful consequences, but you should think twice before handing over the extra money.  It’s probably not in your best interest as a higher flyer, and believe it or not, getting it might cost you more than it’s worth.

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10 Hampton Inns for President Obama to Visit

Former President Obama recently professed his preference/appreciation for Hampton Inns.  While they’re far cries from the penthouse suites he enjoyed during his time in office, there’s a certain comfort in the consistency.  As Obama put it (as quoted by The Washington Post), “In the Hampton Inn, there’s like one light switch, one bathroom door, and the bed, and the TV remote; I’m good.”  But there are thousands of locations (2,500 or so to be specific), and naturally, not all of them are created equally.  In the spirit of the former president’s comments, here are some of the top Hampton Inns for him to visit on his future trips.

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Obama: “If I was just in the Hampton Inn… I’m good.”

Higher flying doesn’t necessarily refer to the top tier, most-luxurious accommodations.  If something presents a good value for your money and makes sense for you and your travel goals, indeed, that option can be just as valuable as one that costs significantly more.  If you don’t believe me, ask Barack Obama instead!  The Washington Post recently quoted the former president singing the praises of Hampton Inns, one of Hilton’s budget-friendly brands and not one that you would associate with some/one of the most powerful people in the world.  They’re far from glamorous, but if they’re good enough for Obama, certainly they can suffice for everyone else.

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How To: Navigate Norwegian Air’s fees to get exactly what you want

Norwegian Air’s strong reputation is due in part to the relatively comfortable accommodations it features on its sleek new planes, but its affordable airfares are equally as important in bolstering the airline’s status.  There are some downright incredible deals to be had!  That said, Norwegian shares a business model with an infamous counterpart in the United States:  Spirit.  The former has been praised as an innovative disruptor in the long haul transit market, whereas the latter is reviled for its many layers of (perceived) awfulness… even though they both run pretty similar operations.  Don’t be deceived by Norwegian’s cheery Scandinavian/Ikea-esque branding; crafty bargain hunters must pay careful attention when they’re booking flights.  Otherwise they risk getting trapped in a fee-laden hell all in the name of getting a “cheap” fare… and that’s definitely not higher flyer!

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Flying Cathay Pacific’s Business Class is Overrated

While I’m not saying that flying business class on Cathay Pacific is a bad thing — quite the opposite actually — the product has a world-class reputation that, at times, seems misplaced.  It has all the makings of a competitive international business class offering, sure, but then again, so does British Airways’s Club World.  Like its oneworld counterpart, Cathay is just fine, but it lacks a defining feature to give it any sort of advantage over its regional rivals.  Despite this, several reputable sources consider Cathay to be among the best in the world and a top higher flyer experience… which is a bit puzzling.

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