Saturday, 20 October 2018

Opaque site of the week: Secret Escapes

No, that's not a positive signal. I generally like Secret Escapes, as it usually has attractive prices for hotels, although you need to be careful about their location (before you know it, you're near a highway instead of a city center). So I just took a look what they offer in Florence, Italy. And they have this amazing price: 50 euro for a room in a four star hotel near Santa Maria Novella railway station.

At least, that's what I thought. It turns out that they switched to per person prices. That's a nasty habit in the legacy travel industry (sorry, TUI and the likes). You cannot book a hotel room for a single person for that price, obviously. So the room will cost at least double (Secret Escapes charges a booking fee based on the total cost of the booking). Yes, the per person price is mentioned quite clearly, it's just a change one doesn't expect and therefore might miss.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Booking your KLM flight for less

There are a few tricks that will save you some euros when booking KLM flights. First of all, if your flight leaves from Amsterdam, you'll pay a 10 EUR booking fee for each booking you make on the KLM website. You can avoid that fee by booking on airfrance.nl instead. There is no booking fee there, and you can make almost identical KLM bookings. If you plan to purchase hold luggage, make sure you enter the Flying Blue program. You're entitled to a (substantial) discount on hold luggage even with the lowest tier of the FB program. UPDATE: it seems that nowadays KLM's lowest fares aren't available on the Air France website, favouring lower indirect flights via Paris.

If you live in Belgium or in the south of the Netherlands, you might consider travelling from Antwerp or Brussels (use 'airport' names ZYR or ZWE). As you don't have a direct flight in such a case, the price will often go down compared to travelling from Amsterdam. But you need to prove that you actually use the dedicated train to Schiphol, otherwise you'll have to pay the original fare. On the way back, you don't need to bother. You can just head home and not use the train.

On routes where KLM competes with low cost airlines such as easyJet, you'll often have the opportunity to book one way fares at more acceptable prices than you'd usually expect from a legacy carrier. This can come in handy. For instance a flight from Zurich to Amsterdam can be booked on easyJet, but there is a very limited schedule. With KLM, you can choose from many options a day, at still acceptable prices.

UPDATE: In the KLM app, at least in its large format on the iPad, a free 24 hour option to keep a certain flight against the current fare is available. On the desktop website, there are only paid options.