The question is common for those that travel once a year or once a week. So which airline is the cheapest? It depends. When making travel arrangements, many factors determine how much you're going to pay. Is your departure on a busy travel day? Is there an event in your originating or connecting city? What type of aircraft is the airline flying that day? Are there a lot of flights between the cities you are flying to and from?

Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Friday tend to be heavy travel days because of business flyers. When looking for the cheapest airfare try some of the travel websites like Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, Kayak.com, and others. These sites will list the majority of airlines and the price of their fares.

For the Nashville market, all the airlines currently serving Nashville International Airport (BNA) can be found on these sites except for Southwest Airlines (SWA). SWA is one of the few airlines that does not sell tickets outside of its website and a few other limited places.

If you're a casual traveler or someone who travels three or less times per year, then basing your travel choices entirely on financial concerns is probably best. If you tend to travel a lot more, then you may think about choosing an airline that will offer additional benefits for your loyalty. Air Canada, American, Continental, Delta, United, and US Airways are the major hub and spoke airlines at BNA that have an international network of flights through their hub cities and are a part of global airline alliances.

Why are airline alliances and frequent flyer programs important? Airline alliances are developed so help customers gain miles through the original airline and the sister airlines so that the customerwill tend to fly with the alliance airline more vs. the competition. The three worldwide airline alliances are One World (www.oneworld.com), Sky Team (www.skyteam.com), and Star Alliance (www.staralliance.com).

Another thing to consider about the airline that you chose to fly is what they do when there are problems. If you were to have a delayed or canceled flight most hub and spoke airlines will re-route you on their airline or a sister airline, or even a competing airline. Some airlines like SWA do not have the ability to move passengers to other airlines. So if you are on a SWA and it is delayed due to weather, is canceled, or goes mechanical you will have to wait at the departure airport until SWA can fly you to your destination.

If you plan to travel extensively, you should review the route maps of the airlines and their alliance partners to make sure that you can “get the most bang for your buck.” Once you start to average 25K or more miles annually, you should consider looking at flying on a specific airline/alliance to maximize your travel benefits. These benefits include special reservation lines, ticket agents at the airport, faster security lines, free checked bags, early boarding, free upgrades to first class and many more benefits that will be discussed in next month’s article.

Some airlines also reserve the front portion of the coach cabin for their elites, block the middle seats, and will pre-assign exit rows to elite passengers. Also during delays or cancellations, elite members tend to get better handling which can make the overall travel experience more enjoyable.

For more information, visit Scott's travel blog called The Art of Flying Commercial (http://www.theartofflyingcommercial.com).

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville


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Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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