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The Travel Ekspert, Brian Ek, has been featured and quoted in hundreds of travel sources, including:

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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To send a question to the Travel Ekspert, use the Contact the Ekspert link above.  Responses are not guaranteed, but the Ekspert will try to answer as many as possible.

 

   I am looking into flights to Atlanta out of Newark Liberty.  It seems as through all flights in surrounding areas are much cheaper.  Can you predict if Continental and Delta are going to drop their prices out of Newark to Atlanta specifically?  Please advise.

 

                                                                                                                              

 Here's what you do.   Go to http://travela.priceline.com/insideTrack/flights/ and sign up for the Price Drop Alerts.  It's on the right hand side of the page.  The alerts will let you know when fares drop for the specific route you want to fly.  Fares are changing all the time, so this is a pretty nifty tool.

 

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   If I rent a minivan through Name Your Own Price, will it be a 7-passenger or a 5-passenger minivan?

 

                                                                                                                               

Priceline's Name Your Own Price rental car service says that a typical minivan will seat 6 adults and 1 child.

 

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   Do airlines offer discounts to relatives flying home for funerals?

 

 Some airlines offer what are called bereavement fares.  However, bereavement fares are typically discounts off the higher full coach fare, so you should always check first to make sure there isn't a cheaper economy fare available to you.

Another option is priceline.com's Name Your Own Price airline tickets service, where you pick the airports and travel dates, then name the price you want to pay.  You can be successful with bids up to 40% below published fares, or even 60% if it's a last-minute ticket.  Remember, with Name Your Own Price tickets, you won't know your flight times until after the ticket is booked, and you could start your trip anywhere between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., with a possibility of one connection.  So you'd probably want to fly the day before you need to be there and return the day after the funeral. 

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 When using priceline.com's Name Your Own Price airline ticketing service, can I specify that I want non-stop flights only?

 

 Getting discounts of up to 40% on your Name Your Own Price airline tickets requires some flexibility.  You can pick your airports, travel dates and, of course, your price.  Your trip will start between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on your travel dates.  Your exact flights and times will be shown to you after your purchase is complete.  Although priceline.com always looks for non-stop flights first, your flights may make up to one connection each way.   

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 I will be traveling to Albuquerque in a few weeks and will be purchasing my airfare through priceline of course, my question however is on renting a car in Albuquerque. The last time I went I had trouble because i do not have a credit card, only a debit card, only one company would rent to me and it was a locally owned company I would not recommend to anyone. If I rent a car through priceline, since it is basically paid for in advance, will it alleviate this problem?

 

Thanks for the question.  With priceline.com's Name Your Own Price rental car service, if you check the box on our Website indicating that you have a debit card, then we will only try to match you with companies that are willing to accept a debit card for the deposit when you pick up your car.  As long as you have $200 available in your account at the time of pickup, and you have proof of roundtrip travel (air tickets), then you should be all set.

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I will be traveling to Hawaii in April and would like to know if I should purchase tickets for flights between islands prior to departure or should I wait until I get there.  I have received conflicting advice.

 

You probably received conflicting advice because there are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches.  The answer to this question depends on what type of trip you're taking and how firm your travel plans are.  If you're fine traveling to whatever islands have ticket availability, or there's a chance your plans can change between now and April, then you probably can wait to book.

I know Hawaii tourism is down overall.  However, with the collapse of Aloha, the number of available inter-island flights and seats also are down.  If your plans are set, or if there are islands you really want to see, I recommend getting your tickets now and not taking the gamble.

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How many nights per hotel, per Priceline booking are allowed?  We've discovered that an upcoming trip requires at least four nights in the same city.

 

No worries.  You can book up to 21 consecutive nights as part of the same Priceline hotel booking.

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I would like to know how safe it is to walk around New Orleans?  I will be going right after Mardi Gras.

 

I visited New Orleans post-Katrina and didn't have any problems in the well-lit and high-trafficked tourist areas.  To get you the most up-to-date answer for that question, I contacted the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Here's what they had to say:

Visitors to our city should expect:
  • Visible police presence in tourist and convention areas by uniformed officers on foot, in patrol cars and on horseback
  • Undercover police presence in tourist and convention areas by plain-clothed officers
  • Professional, courteous police officers in tourist and convention areas are ready to assist you
  • More officers being added to the NOPD thanks to a police recruiting campaign to attract the best and brightest talent
As with any destination, we recommend that vacationers practice common sense and do not wander into deserted, non-tourist areas of the city.   New Orleans remains a national treasure and we want everyone who visits it to have a safe and enjoyable time.
 

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I'm looking to book a hotel in Boston in September. Do you think this is too early to book? Should I wait to book a last-minute deal?

 

That depends what type of room you want - ie., published price or Name Your Own Price. 

Generally speaking, you'll find the deepest discounts with our Name Your Own Price hotel product.  However, hotels typically wait until a month or less before the check-in date to see what kind if published-price demand they're getting.  Then they decide whether they want to offer rooms through our Name Your Own Price service, and the prices they're willing to accept.  Here is where you'll find rooms at 50% or more off published prices.  However, Name Your Own Price rooms are no-change, no-cancel, so it's a consideration whether to buy that far in advance.

If, on the other hand, you want to get a reservation locked in for those dates, I'd try our published price hotel service.  Be sure to check the terms and conditions to make sure the room you reserve can be cancelled without penalty - and remember the date by which you have to cancel.  That way, you can reserve a room and cancel down the road if you have to.