There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… miles of sunny empty beach is one.
When I took my first flight to Hong Kong 41 years ago, I was 21 years old and few on a cheap ticket that was called a student fare.
While in Hong Kong I met a travel agent. Charlie Kwok was his name and he had an office in the Miramar Hotel, Kowloon, not far from the Star Ferry. Charlie was the master of the low cost air fare and over the next half decade he amazed me with some of his great deals…. Especially for people under age 27.
Next decade in London, John Dragonas, a Greek travel agent continued showing the way to get deals. Back then they had VUSA (Visit USA) where prices were really low.
By then Merri and I had met and she became the maven of amazing air fare deals.
In short I have always enjoy incredibly low costs air fares. However Merri added another dimension because not all low cost air fares are great.
I recall one flight Honk Kong to Portland Oregon that Charlie Kwok arranged… really cheap, because it was a charter with two empty seats and otherwise full of doctors returning from Thailand. What Charlie forgot to mention was that the actual fare went Hong Kong, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco and then I had a connection back to Portland… adding about 24 hours to the flight!
There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… such as the high Andean lakes.
John in London ignored the human part of travel to get the cost down once as well… a special VUSA fare. Merri and I wanted to fly London, Miami, Chicago, Portland, London.
To get the lowest fare, the actual flight turned out to be London -Denver, Miami- Denver, Chicago-Denver, Portland-Denver, London…or something like that… low fare but not a great deal.
There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… including wonderful colonial architecture.
It was about then that Merri took over finding our fares and she is good… Let me be humble and say she may be the best. Recently our son visited us from London, Charlotte, London for $17. That is correct, seventeen dollars.
There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… big cities and…
quaint villages like… Cotacachi shown here.
Recently one of our articles Ecuador Air Fare Update mentioned a $316 Miami Quito fare that Merri found and explained that readers should visit www.farecompare.com
So many readers asked for help on how to get this fare that I asked Merri to prepare an article on how she does it.
Here it is:
Buying Air Tickets
Gary often asks me to write about how I buy airline tickets and especially those to Ecuador…so this is the first in a series of hints including safety, price, ease…
Well, first of all…it’s a tricky business for sure. And to top it all off, it rarely is quick and easy. I start out with that in mind and sometimes days later I’m still at it! But there is a pattern that I always use that helps me sort from the beginning the good, bad and the ugly.
Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, “The Outliers, The Story of Success” clearly states that most people are really good at something, really successful after about 10,000 hours. Well, for sure I have my 10,000 hours in on travel and tickets. For over 4 years, Gary and I crossed the Atlantic commuting from our home in London to our home in Naples, Fl every three weeks. It was always different, always a surprise and very often extremely challenging to buy tickets for Gary’s mom, our 5 children to all our destinations all over the world ON A REGULAR BASIS. We had homes in London, Gloustershire, Naples, North Carolina, the north coast of the Dominican Republic and…oh, it makes my head spin just thinking about it!
Needless to say, just by the sheer act of plotting, planning and finally buying, I’ve learned a lot…earned my 10,000 hours over the last 25 + years of international traveling.
However, all the rules have now changed…it’s often hard to know which way to jump…some people book for instance a conference and tell me to confirm quickly so they can buy “that cheap ticket” that is 6 months out! Whoa, I reply…that’s pretty risky…sometimes you can now buy a ticket at a week out for the same price or better than a month out.
Airlines are constantly shifting and changing and hedging their bets…so let’s look at a few things that we can count on.
#1. The internet makes it a lot easier than we’ve had it before. There is plenty of data and solid information that we can gather from 100s of sources instantly.
#2. The internet also makes it a lot harder than we’ve ever had it before BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES! We have more information so it is essential that we use this information wisely.
Here are a few ground rules that I am currently using that are working now.
1. Don’t buy months out.
2. Sit down with those who are traveling and have a general chat on days/possibilities/flexibilities that might be possible. Right now, for instance, I am buying for Ecuador. Gary and I will get a month’s calendar, list our IDEAL flight days and then see which ways we COULD be flexible.
3. For the past year, it is cheaper (yes, cheaper) in most cases to fly from an outlying airport than direct. I know a lot of people for instance who drive from let’s say Birmingham, Ala to Atlanta and then fly direct from Atlanta to everywhere. Don’t do this. CHECK YOUR POSSIBILITIES.
For example, Gary and I fly mainly from NC to Portland, NC to Quito, NC to London and NC to Copenhagen. Well, we can fly from Charlotte, Greensboro (Triad) or from a nearby TRI Cities TN tiny airport. I check out each of these easily and quickly to get a handle on the whole picture. I don’t just assume that one is cheaper or more expensive, etc.
For instance for years, Charlotte has been very expensive to fly into our area than all the others, and suddenly last fall, it all shifted…now it’s the cheapest. Well, it could be the aggressiveness of USAir after its near collapse that has caused them to price the lowest since it is their hub and therefore Delta, etc. have followed suit.
When flying from Florida, I look at Tampa (our favorite), Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc. Takes only a second and sometimes you can really find an el cheapo winner!
4. Decide whether you are a frequent flyer who needs to accumulate miles or if you are just an occasional flyer. We for instance are frequent flyers and use Atlanta as our hub to go to our common destinations…Portland, London, Quito, Copenhagen are our patterns. Sometimes we fly from NC and sometimes from FL (according to the season)…but ALL of these flights are non-stop from Atlanta via Delta. So, instead of looking at all airlines/all flights, I really just watch Delta. We accumulate a lot of miles, use them for free tickets for our children and/or for upgrades. My advice for frequent flyers is pick an airline and stick with it! This gets the most bang for your buck…although sometimes I pay more for this, in the long run it works out well and suits us.
If you are lucky enough to be an infrequent flyer, then just look for the best deal!
5. Frequent flyers can gain a lot from loyalty…although not everything as recently we found out on an emergency trip to Portland! But usually, we can get what WE determine is important. (not that this might be your choice in the line of fire.)
What is important to us is not just the price but the Duration of the Flight…very, very important you might say! I’ll pay a bit more to fly a total of 7 hours instead of a lot less to fly the same route with a totally of 11 hours or maybe 23 hours!
Another thing that is important to us is that we can upgrade. We have logged so many miles and usually have to get off an airplane and go straight to work that over the years we have decided that if we can go first or business class (more or that later) we should. We feel better if we are not cramped in and let’s face it (although we don’t drink alcohol and don’t eat on planes) there are some good perks. Very important to us is that there is simply more oxygen up front than there is in the back…so we arrive in better shape than if we were tucked in on the last row.
Other things important to us is that we have a place where we can be quiet and not listen to a dozen cell phone conversations and 7 different TV stations. We aren’t used to this type of confusion and noise and so we want to have the use of special rooms that airlines provide (Delta’s Crown Rooms) that allow quiet areas. Often we travel with our service dog, and she too is allowed in these rooms. We just rest and wait there. IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Merri even makes sure that we have seats so we see the sunset at night and sunrise in the morning.
But on the other hand, we don’t want to pay for this privilege which can cost big change.
How do we achieve this? Well, each airline has its own gimmicks, but Delta allows a cardholder of AMEX Sky Miles Reserve (which can cost anywhere from $295 up) to have free access with his/her companions to all Sky Mile Crown rooms at no cost. You can now have a simple Gold AMEX Sky Miles card (sometimes without a fee) that allows more or less the same privileges. We find excellent light food (that is fresh) and peace and quiet there. We also find their quiet desk of agents that will do just about anything to make life pleasant (changing flights/redoing tickets/finding lost luggage, etc.). They will even wake you if you fall asleep in your comfy chair. That same card allows us to have a free Concierge booking service (that means they will REALLY try everything to help you) as well as double miles for most of our travel…and (and this is a big one) the right to Pay with Miles.
And what is Pay with Miles? Well, let’s discuss that under Award Ticketing later in this series.
Join an upcoming Ecuador seminar or North Carolina Super Spanish course.
There are many reasons to buy a ticket to Ecuador… like the wonderful people. This is a dancer entertaining delegates at one of our recent Ecuador tours.
Learn About Ecuador From EcuadoriansLearn About Ecuador From Ecuadorians With the February 2015 “Get Together Ecuador Seminar”
Manta – Ecuador
Get the inside scoop from Ecuadorians about Ecuador so you can make informed decisions about whether this country is one that will improve your lifestyle.
Ecuador has many advantages, close to North America, just four hours from Miami. Plus the brand new Quito airport means you’ll arrive to the latest in accommodations.
You can choose the perfect climate for you. The Andes offer eternal spring, never really hot, never freezing. The cost can be warmer, but nowhere in Ecuador are temperatures extreme.
You can choose to live in large cities, towns, or small villas. The majority of Ecuador Living readers choose Cuenca. The cool weather, beautiful colonial architecture, and complete infrastructure has attracted over 6,500 expats from around the world.
Cuenca from the top
February 25th to 27th 2015.
Your Ecuador journey starts in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito.
We have Ecuadorian experts who answer all the questions you’ll want to know, health care, visa, cost of living, real estate, shipping, retirement discounts across the nation and a review of each of Ecuador’s four main zones, Andes, Coast, Amazon and Galapagos.
The speakers not only share information but can assist you in getting the contacts and services you’ll need.
Seminar in Quito, 2014
An Ecuadorian lawyer covers immigration law. Learn what documents you need, how to proceed, how long it will take, how ouch the process will cost. Dr. Cordova’s law firm has helped expats visas and become residents in Ecuador for may years.
Another speaker represents freight companies who can bring your personal goods to you duty free.
Colonial – Quito
One expert is in communications. Learn the best ways to make free phone calls back home, how to get a virtual number so people can call you any time, how to watch your favorite TV shows, movies, listen to that local radio stations that you loved, get the latest sport news or just read your favorite magazine. You get guidance ranging from how to use Netflix to Zinio, so you can still enjoy those things that you love from back home.
Other sessions give you insights into the cultural differences that only Ecuadorians can explain. Learn why when “we” tell you we will meet at 17:00 we arrive at 17:15. Learn how and why “we will be there in 5 minutes” actually means 15 minutes. Find out the difference between formal business meetings and informal gatherings with friends and family. This is important. If you are invited to a party at 20:00, don’t show up on time or you and your host will be embarrassed. Arrive at least an hour late.
Pick up all the little tricks you need to know, how to rent a car, how to get around in Ecuador, the best maps for traveling, how to ask for things, the best way to get us to like you, etc. In Ecuador you get the best response being nice and negotiating in a polite way. These cultural nuances will win you friends and bring you business.
Dental Clinic in Quito
Meet major developers Armijos and Brito. Their real estate may interest you. These are not fly by night expos who have just arrived ahead of you. Brito has been building in Quito for decades. He recently teamed with Armijos in a new project by the beach, which includes a luxury hotel.
You’ll also see an interesting Huasquilla Amazon project of rental units. You’ll see a diverse universe of proposals so you can get an idea of business in Ecuador and how locals are working in Real Estate and finance. Even if you don’t have any interest in buying or owning property in Ecuador, this will give you a perspective of how our economy is doing.
Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism will present with their latest investments and opportunities in Ecuador. You’ll see mega projects in tourist areas all around the country and where the growth areas are headed. At the last Ecuador get together the Ministry revealed the Condor, a hotel being developed by Quito’s new airport and outlined private constructions at the coast.
New Buildings in Manta
A team of Doctors review your health care options in Ecuador. Learn where to get the best eye care, dental implants, medical procedures, prescription savings and natural herbal products.
Meet Pro Credit a German bank that especially serves expats in Ecuador. They review the financial health of Ecuador’s banking system, how to bank in Ecuador (if you really have to), the safest way to make wire transfers and the latest news on Ecuador banking regulations.
Representatives of freight companies who know how to move your personal goods from your country to Ecuador share how to bring your belongings. Learn the timing, the requirements, pricing, tips on how to label items, how Ecuador Customs processes them, what things to do and what things not to do. They also tell you about the list of things you can bring and what to call them. You might not be able t bring gold, but can bring jewelry components for example. They’ provide estimates.
General Manager at Banco Pro Credit
Here is the complete schedule for our Three Day “Ecuador Get Together” in Quito. (click images to enlarge).
Investment, Real Estate and Get Together complete schedule for our Three Day Get Together in Quito.
Since you are coming all the way from your country we’d like you to enjoy as much as you can from Ecuador, so we always to Real Estate Tours, Import-Export and Health Tours around the Seminar. If you like more information and details about those extra activities please contact me at email@example.com.
Before the seminar there is a two day Health Care option. February 23rd – February 24th. We will put you in contact with the doctors, this will be prior to your arrival in Ecuador, so they know if you need to bring information and they can plan the appropriate treatment.
After the seminar there is a four day Real Estate tour to the coast and Cuenca February 28th to March 3rd.
04:30 – 07:00 Traveling to the Airport
07:10 – 08:00 Flying to Manta
08:00 – 10:00 Breakfast at Manta
10:00 – 13:00 Tour Manta
13:00 – 15:00 Lunch and Check in at Hotels
15:00 – 16:30 Tour Manta
16:30 – 18:00 Tour Santa Marianita
09:00 – 13:00 Tour Bahia, San Vicente
13:00 – 15:00 Lunch Canoa
15:00 – 18:00 Tour San Jacinto Surrounding Areas
March 02 Traveling to Cuenca
08:00 – 12:00 Driving to Guayaquil
12:00 – 14:00 Check in Airline and Lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Arriving to Cuenca – check in Hotels
19:00 – Getting together for Dinner
Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador
09:00 – 13:00 Tour Downtown Cuenca – Apartments
13:00 – 15:00 Lunch Piedra de Agua
15:00 – 18:00 Tour Cuenca – Houses
00:00 – 13:00 Tour Cuenca and surrounding areas
13:00 – 15:00 Lunch
15:00 – 18:00 Paute, land and House to Build
FREE HEALTH CARE TOUR ON PLATINUM AND GOLD PACKAGE! Save $599 on our Health Care, attend for FREE.
Get Together, three day Seminar $799 single and $899 couple.
Real Estate Tour (1 tour only, either Coast or Cuenca) $599 single and $699 couple.
Gold Package, three day Seminar and 1 Tour $1299 single and $1399 couple.
Platinum Package, three day Seminar and all Tours $1699 single and $1799 couple.
*The schedule during the seminar and speakers may change, but we will guarantee that all major subjects and experience are respected.
*Not included. Upon request we will provide pickups at the airport, drop-offs, tours in Quito and/or surrounding areas and tours around Ecuador. We offer a full concierge service in Ecuador for anything that you need.
For questions or for more information contact Roberto Ribadeneira
Toll Free from USA: 1-888-482-3850
In Ecuador: 593-92380346