Tag Archives: Viajes

“Tengo millas de vuelo…” Las aerolíneas y sus millas/puntos.


No conozco mucha gente que me haya dicho “fui a X destino usando mis millas de vuelo”. Cuando hablo de esta mucha gente, incluyo gente que sé que viaja con frecuencia, y probablemente usando la misma línea aérea todo el tiempo. A algunos le pregunto, Oye, ¿y tus millas de vuelo? Y me preguntan o ¿que es eso? o simplemente, me evidencian su vagancia de hacer un simple registro con su línea aérea (en la mayoría de los casos, libre de costo) para registrar las millas que han viajado con la línea aérea.

Bueno, intentaré explicarles de la manera mejor resumida como funcionan las millas de vuelo en la mayoría de los casos. Te registras como viajero frecuente en el site de tu línea aérea (lo puedes hacer aún cuando no tienes ningún viaje registrado con ellos ni en el presente ni en el futuro) y ellos te otorgarán un número de viajero frecuente. Ese número aparecerá cada vez que compres boletos con ellos e incluso, en muchas líneas aparece hasta en tu boarding pass. Hasta ahora, te puede parecer un poco inútil tener un número de viajero frecuente, pues la realidad es que con un segmento de vuelo las millas o puntos no dan ni para hacer un upgrade de clase. Pero, ¿que pasa si acumulas muchos segmentos de viaje o en el mejor de los casos, consigues una tarjeta de crédito con el logo de la línea aérea y comienzas a acumular millas por tus compras?

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Ya es muy común conseguir líneas aéreas que ofrezcan tarjetas de crédito. En Puerto Rico, hay dos bancos locales que ofrecen tarjeta de las líneas aéreas que puedes encontrar en la isla: la Santander-JetBlue y la Popular-American Airlines Advantage. Ambas tarjetas te dan un bono de millas si gastas $1,000 durante los primeros meses y cada compra te da una cantidad considerable de millas. La clave es hacer la mayor cantidad de compras con tu tarjeta y mantenerla al día en los pagos. Léase, usarla aunque tengas la misma cantidad en efectivo contigo. De esa manera estás consiguiendo que tus compras sean las responsables de pagar tus boletos de avión y esto no representaría un ahorro extra para ti, si no que todo el año acumularías puntos para tu viaje. Debes tener en cuenta que aun puedes registrar otras tarjetas de crédito que los bancos acá no ofrecen pero que se consiguen fácilmente en línea. Algunos ejemplos lo son: la American Express-Delta, la Chase-United, e incluso, la Citicard-Expedia que también te ayudará a obtener puntos para hoteles y alquileres de autos.

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Les hablo de esto porque al principio, como ustedes era una escéptica de las millas de vuelo, pero me di cuenta que con lo que me gusta viajar, redunda más bien en un beneficio. Hoy incluso tengo número de viajero frecuente en líneas aéreas en las que nunca he viajado (Air France?) porque como ya les expliqué, no cuesta nada registrase, obtener el número y usarlo en un futuro. Poseo algunas de las tarjetas de crédito y puedo decirles que ya pude usar algunas millas para viajar. Resulta totalmente gratificante pagar solamente lo que cueste el impuesto y ahorrarse el resto para la experiencia que vas a vivir en tu destino. No soy emisaria de ninguna aerolínea, solo soy una viajera que intenta ahorrar cada dolar que pueda a lo hora de viajar con el propósito de tener una experiencia inolvidable. Ojalá y estos tips le sean útiles durante este verano.


My first time in Norway… [A story about the hectic experience of flying stand by]

I departed for the first time and by myself to the other side of the world a 27th of May of 2012. I was six months into a long distance relationship with Kristian, my Norwegian boyfriend. I wanted for us to see each other face to face for the first time as a gift for his upcoming birthday. Thanks to my lucky stars I have traveling benefits because my dad works at American Airlines, the only issue with it all is that I’d be traveling “standby” so if there wasn’t room for me in either of the planes I had to take, I would be stuck. I fully understood the minor risk of it but that was not going to set me back.

My dad accompanies me to the gate to make sure everything is running smoothly. My nerves are sizzling with nervous excitement. Finally boarding starts and I get called. We say our goodbyes and on I go. The trip from San Juan, Puerto Rico to New York (JKF airport) was completely uneventful. Those first four hours of traveling felt never ending. At last I arrive at JFK airport, deplane and go on to my next gate. When I finally arrive to what it seemed the other side of the airport I sit down and make my checkpoint call with family and friends. It wasn’t long until the gate agents started to prepare everything and everyone boarded again. This time my nerves went from sizzling to an open fire. This was it, the big one, the six and a half hour flight that would take me away from everything and everyone I knew.

I am placed in first class. It truly was a luxurious travel. I am in my own cubicle where I could put up my feet, watch my own T.V., charge my phone and the seat could drop to become a bed if I so desired to sleep. “I definitely can get used to this.” I thought. The flight attendants were amazing and did make the journey a good one but, there was this ball of anxiety brewing in my stomach that wouldn’t let me sleep. We arrived at London, Heathrow three movies later, or at around 7am. Heathrow airport is a small city in itself. Gigantic and complicated at first but I quickly learned how to navigate through. My phone wasn’t working and didn’t want to connect to Wi-Fi either so I went ahead and bought a call card. I managed another checkpoint call with Kristian, family and friends at a payphone. Everything was going okay so far. But then everything changed when the fire nation attacked…I mean, when I had the misfortune of traveling with Lufthansa.

I think it was around midday, I don’t really remember the time, when I went to the gate I was supposed to go to make a connection from Heathrow to Frankfurt, Germany. I make the line to enter the gate and present my slip of paper that states I’m traveling standby; she then tells me that that paper is not valid. I swear to every deity in existence that that felt like a stab in the gut. I felt out of breath and quickly panicked. “What do you mean this is not valid? This is what I was given at the airport for standby travel.” She then said something along the lines of them doing it wrong and that they were full and all I had to do was wait. Okay, I could deal with that. While everyone walked in and filled the room I decided to leave and see if I could find another way, another airline that could take me to Bergen, Norway directly without having to go through Frankfurt. I make a line at the British Airways counter. Not many people were working and there was an issue with two young Belgian men ahead of me. When it was finally my turn I tell the desk agent my situation and ask if there is any way I could get on their standby list to Bergen. She sent me to the American Airlines main counter because she said that since I started flying with American they should be the ones to do that for me. Okay…I run as fast as I can since I only had 45 minutes for that particular flight. I had to change terminals so I had to get on a bus that took 10 minutes from one side to the other. I finally arrive to terminal 3 and run to the counter, thank goodness it was empty. I tell the woman what I was told and ask her what I can do only to be told that nothing could be done; I don’t even remember the reason why.

I am still on time to catch my Frankfurt flight so I run back to the gate. Most of the people had already boarded and the rest that were there were just waiting on standby as well. Apparently I did something well in a past life cause there was only ONE seat left and everyone else were traveling in pairs and didn’t want to leave their partner behind. I walk to the counter, get my ticket and finally walk into the plane. I sit down next to a very nice Italian lady with whom I managed to have a short conversation with. We both fell asleep shortly after takeoff.

The airport in Frankfurt, Germany is rather small. Seemed to be just a small branch in that area. I had to go through Customs so I take out my passport and give it to the official; he then said something that chilled me to the bone. He said “This passport is not good. It’s useless.” Wide eyed and almost without a heartbeat I reply “That can’t be true. I got it renewed last month.” He then places my passport before me and says “It isn’t signed. If it isn’t signed, it isn’t valid.” If looks could kill, that poor German official would have been dust. There was no need to scare me like that. He offered me a pen; I signed the damn thing and finally walked into the country. I set my things by a payphone and get ready to use some extra call cards I bought in London to make my checkpoint calls. They didn’t want to work.  I was confused, weren’t all payphone’s supposed to work with call cards? Even more so, payphones that are at airports! So I walk to some security guards and try to ask them about the payphones and why they didn’t want to work with call cards. They looked at me as if they wanted to throw me into a concentration camp for having interrupted them. They didn’t give me any helpful information and just blatantly ignored me. I decided I’d call everyone once I was in Bergen so I went in search of my next gate.

I was a few hours early to my next flight so I sat down and tried to rest. I was rather uncomfortable in those seats. When the time to depart rolled by and the gate agent was at the desk I went ahead to let him know I was traveling standby and if I’d be able to make the flight. He tells me it is too early to tell and to just sit tight and wait until everyone has boarded. I do as told and wait. And keep waiting…and waiting…and with each passing minute cold dread starts to consume me. They were full, everyone was arriving and it seemed like I was going to spend the night in Frankfurt. I am pretty sure the agent was sick of my badgering; I had been traveling for over 24 hours, I had not eaten since the anxiety didn’t let me, I hadn’t slept and I’m pretty sure I was out of nerve endings by that time. He told me my only chance was if the last two people who were to board didn’t get to the gate. I wished hard they didn’t make it so I could; I only had a week free from work and couldn’t waste it being stuck in any airport. Sadly, they arrived and the reality that I was going to spend the night in Frankfurt hit me like a freight train.

I immediately start to cry. The frustration, anxiety and the hours without rest just were too much and my composure broke. I go upstairs to find the payphone and call Kristian. Between sobs I tell him that I didn’t make the flight and they had told me the next earliest one was at nine and they weren’t sure if there was going to be space for me on that one either. He was already on the ferry to the city and I was hysterical on the phone. I couldn’t keep conversations longer than three minutes since they charged med $10.00 per minute. He told me to call him in an hour and to have a piece of paper and pen ready. We hung up and I lay down on several empty seats on a completely empty gate. “This is one of the worst nights of my life” is my last thought as I drift off to sleep between tears.

The alarm on my dying phone went off and I instantly open my eyes. I gather the pen and paper he had asked for and make the call. As soon as he answers he spells out a name, tells me to withdraw 20 euros, get a taxi and give the driver the name of the hotel I had just written down. He had paid a night at a nearby hotel just so I could have a decent rest. I hang up and do as instructed. As soon as I step out looking for a taxi, this man walks up to me, takes my carry-on bag, puts it in the trunk and tells me to go into the car. I give him the piece of paper with the name and he is talking in German and I swear he doesn’t understand a word I say. During the drive all I could think of was of several ways of saving my own life if he turned out to be a lunatic. My thoughts went from choking him from behind to just opening the car door and jumping out. Don’t judge me; I was a little out of my mind by then. I was scared and stuck in a foreign country by myself.

We finally arrive at the hotel, I pay the man, he gives me my bag and I run inside. The two young men at the front desk were very nice and helpful. I bought another set of call cards to be able to use with the phone in the room. When I get to my room I feel completely drained and like I’d sleep for a week. I freshen myself up, lie in bed and call my parents. It was the middle of the night in Puerto Rico and no one answered. I left them voice messages cause I knew by now my mom was hysterical thinking I was probably chopped up in some kind of black market somewhere. I call Kristian afterwards to tell him what had happened and to thank him for getting a place to stay. We hung up and I eventually fell asleep watching Harry Potter in German.

I couldn’t really sleep that much. I think the anxiety and fear of sleeping too deeply and not listening to the alarm didn’t let me fully rest. I woke up at around five in the morning, checked out and waited for the taxi to take me back to the airport. I had a killer headache, I supposed for not eating or drinking anything in more than a day. I got something to eat and drink and sat by the gate, the uncertainty of if I’d get on or not, killing me slowly. A Spanish speaking man sat by me and for the first time in my life I was thinking of how to start a conversation with a stranger just for the pleasure of speaking in my native language. I asked the time and from then on we just kept talking. I think that he was the distraction I sorely needed. My headache went away and I didn’t even notice and before I knew it, it was time to board and I was in it!

We went downstairs to a bus that took us to the plane. Already seated all I could think or feel was the elation that I was on my way, FINALLY, to Norway. When we arrived at Bergen at around noon, my heart wanted to skip out of my chest. I went through passport control without issues and headed to the bathroom to freshen up and not look like the maniac I felt. I went downstairs and through all the exit doors. When I’m finally out that I lift my gaze from the floor, he was there.


De como conseguir pasajes a destinos europeos por menos de $1000

No sé si he hecho una buena elección en convertir este en el primer post de mi —recién comenzado— blog de viaje Traveleira pero, por algo se tiene que comenzar y pues, creo que debe ser una buena manera de introducirlos a ustedes al maravilloso mundo de viajar. Constantemente, cuando le dices a la gente que vas a viajar, tienden a pensar “ah, tienes que tener mucho dinero” cuando la realidad es que en, muchas ocasiones, tienes que estirar el presupuesto. La diferencia de los viajeros es que viajar se convierte en su prioridad y ese dinero que tú pasaste un año ahorrando para comprarte un carro, el viajero se lo ahorró para finalmente conocer la India, por ejemplo. Ya que descarté ese misconception de que “Todos los viajeros tienen chavos o papi se los paga”, toca explicar como comienza todo. En mi caso, cuando tengo un destino pensado, intento entrar a un blog como este a buscar toda la información sobre el lugar que pienso ir, experiencias de viajeros y hasta algunas cosas que puedan decir los locales. De esa manera también puedes cerciorarte y saber si el destino al que planificas ir requiere una visa para permitirte la entrada o no. Para eso también couchsurfing.org funciona muy bien. Fuera de esa parte, comenzamos a hacer la búsqueda de todo aquello que nos va a costar dinero. Yo comienzo siempre por buscar pasajes. Si alguien les dijo alguna vez que buscar pasajes económicos es algo fácil (a menos que se los haya dicho yo que ya tengo la estrategia dominada) es muy probable que les estuviese diciendo una mentira, o solo sepa buscar pasajes domésticos dentro de los Estados Unidos. Existen mitos de que los mejores días para comprar vuelos son los martes y miércoles, y que si se hace de madrugada mucho mejor. Lamento informar que esto son puros mitos. Hace poco se publicó un estudio hecho por el site CheapAir.com en el cual se indica que en promedio, el mejor día para comprar boletos de avión es 54 días antes del vuelo. Este número según el propio artículo no es arbitrario y tiende a variar según el destino. Hasta ahora, todo lo que he dicho son números, porcientos, probabilidades. Ahora voy a hablarles de mis experiencias reales. Cuando comienzo a buscar un pasaje si es un viaje de pura diversión, comienzo con ir a Kayak.com y colocar el destino. He decidido añadirles algunos screenshots medios tontos del proceso, pero mejor estar sobre ilustrado en el asunto.

Aquí podemos ver la página inicial de Kayak en la cual puedes comenzar a buscar vuelos. Como pueden apreciar, escogí la opción de Roundtrip y estoy buscando un *pasaje imaginario* hacia Baku, Azerbaiyán para diciembre. Otra cosa que me aseguré fue de colocar que buscara fechas flexibles para así poder comparar. Para hacer la comparación más grande, también escogí la opción de que comparara los precios de Kayak con otros buscadores. Una vez hayas oprimido en Buscar, aparecerán los demás buscadores en otras ventanas y esto es lo que te aparecerá en Kayak.

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Como pueden ver, primero te aparece una pantalla que te da el fare por todos los días que colocaste y te dice cual es el más económico marcándolo en verde. En la segunda imagen, abrí uno de los vuelos que me apareció como el más económico para ver los detalles y así comparar con el resto de los buscadores.

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Aquí abrí otro de los buscadores para comparar que es Cheapoair.com. Aquí encontré ya que la opción que me da Turkish Airlines es más económica que las que Kayak me había provisto. Eso lo repito con los otros buscadores para ver las opciones que me dan. El próximo paso es revisar el precio que puedo conseguir directamente con la línea aérea. En el caso de este vuelo, Turkish Airlines no me permite comenzar a hacer la búsqueda desde San Juan y Jet Blue no me permite hacer la búsqueda hasta Baku. Así que en este caso me tendría que conformar con ese fare de $979 para llegar a Baku (que de hecho, está buenísimo) O hacer otro truco que he aprendido con el tiempo y que les voy a ilustrar volando *imaginariamente* a otro lado.

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Ahora, *imaginariamente* en esas mismas fechas voy a Oslo, Noruega y repito el mismo proceso que hice con el anterior.

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Esto es lo que encuentro en Kayak y el fare no me hace feliz para la cantidad de escalas. Tampoco lo hacen el resto de los buscadores. Yo he desarrollado una pequeña técnica para no tener que sufrir esto: desarrollar mis propias escalas. Ahora les explico (Recuerden que esto es volando desde San Juan pero puede que funcione en otros lugares.)

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Repito la búsqueda en Kayak con una leve diferencia. Esta vez, en lugar de buscar el vuelo saliendo desde San Juan he optado por buscarlo saliendo de JFK.

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En este caso, opté por eliminar los vuelos con escala totalmente a propósito y dejar los non-stop de JFK a Oslo con toda la intención de que comparan el precio que daba volando desde San Juan y el que da volando desde ahí y directo. Ida y vuelta. Creo que ya entendieron que adoro Norwegian Airways. Me imagino que ahora la pregunta es, ¿y cómo volamos desde San Juan a NY? Esa pregunta es bastante fácil y ustedes saben responderla. Hay 3 líneas aéreas que vuelan en San Juan-JFK a todas horas: American Airlines, Delta y JetBlue. Es cuestión de buscar tu favorita. No les voy a ilustrar la búsqueda en las tres líneas pero si les voy a dar los precios. En Jetblue eso te sale en $309, en American Airlines  fluctua entre $308 y $343 y en Delta sale en $434. Supongamos que escoges JetBlue. El total del vuelo a Oslo sería $891. Me dirás “Pero en el search anterior habían vuelos en $831”. Claro, pero tienes que tomar en cuenta que hacer escala siempre es caro. En los aeropuertos todo es más caro, y en esas escalas naturalmente te dará hambre, ansiedad, te antojarás de algo que a la larga, tu vuelo podría aumentar en los $1,000 fácil. Minimizando las escalas y pasando más tiempo volando aseguras por lo menos una o dos comidas en el avión que no consumirás en tierra y ya están incluídas en el precio. A la hora de pensar en un vuelo internacional tienes que considerar también esos factores. Creo que después de haber leído esto NADIE me puede decir que llegar a Escandinavia es muy caro, eso es algo que ya tenía requetecomprendido. Esto tiene equivalentes en otros destinos que poco a poco les mostraré. Espero que esto les sea útil y pronto seguiré dándoles más tips para aliviarles el bolsillo mientras viajan.


Alan x el mundo

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