Q I want to take a short ride on an Airbus A380 super jumbo for as little cost as possible. Can you suggest a few short, relatively inexpensive routes that are served by this aircraft? Any airline is fine.
A Although prices will always depend on the season, date and time of travel, there are a lot of great options for hopping on the A380.
One of the least expensive is to travel between Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney on an Emirates' flight. I found a one-way flight on that route in an A380 for $169 (in New Zealand currency), although fares fluctuate all the time.
Thai Airways flies its sole A380 within Asia primarily between Bangkok and Tokyo/Hong Kong. On the same route between Bangkok and Hong Kong, Emirates flies its own A380. You will also find the A380 on China Southern domestic flights Guangzhou to Beijing and Beijing to Shanghai.
When British Airways takes deliveries of its A380s this year, it will put them on short intra-European routes for crew training purposes (much as Air France did). It won't last long and the routes are not yet announced.
Q I know several airlines (United, Delta, for example) now have seats that cost more than economy, less than first or business class, but are roomier. What is an easy way to find out pricing on those seats?
A Besides United and Delta, American Airlines and JetBlue sell extra legroom economy-class seats for an additional fee on both domestic and international flights, as do a number of foreign-based airlines (Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and many others).
These seats aren't usually any wider than standard seats on domestic U.S. airlines (they are somewhat wider on international airlines), but they do offer more legroom.
It's not particularly easy to learn how much the extra legroom will cost you without actually attempting to book a seat on the airline's own website (these extra-legroom seats aren't typically bookable on third-party sites such as Travelocity.com). Pricing depends on the route and flight. American clearly states a possible price range ($8 to $118 per flight) on its website.
In addition to these separate sections, exit-row seats offer considerably more legroom, but these seats are sometimes only available for advance booking to "elite" frequent fliers.
Several smaller airlines, such as Spirit and AirTran, offer inexpensive upgrades to business-class seats. VirginAmerica sells exit-row and bulkhead seats in advance for rather steep fees ("Main Cabin Select," www.virginamerica.com/travel/cabins.html) with 6 inches of extra legroom (plus free food and drinks, a free checked bag and priority check-in).
And all JetBlue planes have more legroom than those on other domestic airlines.
Today's column comes from George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com.