Holiday Travel: Expedia President Offers Tips for the Computer Age

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: More and more airline passengers are booking their tickets over the Internet, and is one of the most popular sites for reservations, information and advice.
And we have Richard Barton with us. He`s the president of Expedia, and he joins us from Seattle. - Hi there, Richard. - RICHARD N. BARTON, PRESIDENT, CEO AND DIRECTOR, EXPEDIA INC.: Hi, Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, I was looking through your magazine, “Expedia Travels,” trying to research for the story, but I came across this picture I want to share with everyone of Turks and Caicos Islands: So anyone out there getting ready to head to grandma`s house via Chicago or Atlanta, here is a place you can just dream about, where you wish you were going.
Anyway, I digress. - Let`s get back to holiday travel today. My mother woke up first thing, and her Delta flight to Atlanta was canceled, Richard. Now she`s not getting in until 6:00 p.m. I`m thrilled about going to get her at 6:00 p.m. in Atlanta, with snow expected. What kind of mess may a lot of people see today - we sure have heard about it already?
BARTON: Yes, I know - today, Natalie, is one of the most heavily travelled days of the year. Actually, tomorrow, by our estimates, is going to be the most heavily traveled day of the year. You know, we`re fighting with some weather issues: As you`ve heard - you`ve all heard, in the previous stories you`ve just covered—there`s some rain and there`s some snow. It`s actually not as bad this year as it`s been in years past. You know, our advice is, you know, the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
ALLEN: Yes, it all seems like common sense, doesn`t it? But you really do have to think way ahead and keep close tabs with your airline this time of year.
BARTON: You do. ALLEN: And you`ve also said you want to get that paper ticket. Now, I`m somebody that`s so glad I don`t have to deal with that paper ticket anymore, Richard - what`s so good about having that paper in hand?
BARTON: It`s a - it`s a trade-off, actually, between paper tickets and e-tickets right now. I`m a huge e-ticket devotee. I was the guy that actually was losing his paper tickets all the time and having to run around through that whole lost ticket application process and spending $75, et cetera, so e-tickets have been great for me. However, when flights are canceled and you need to go to another airline, at least for right now, it`s a little bit more difficult if you have an e-ticket. So some people think that getting a paper ticket is better. Very shortly, however, the industry is going to solve that problem of being able to take an e-ticket from one airline to the next.
ALLEN: Oh, I was going to ask you: Say, if you get to the airport today, and they say well, we`ve canceled your flight, and you`re not going out until hours from now, do you have the option of saying no, I don`t think so, put me on another airline, I need to get out earlier?
BARTON: You do have that option, and they - if - given that they`ll take the time with you, they need to help you actually get on that other airline. And that is, actually, when having a paper ticket actually comes in handy. Chances are, however, that weather is causing delays and cancellations, and that same weather is going to be affecting other airlines as well. So in addition being prepared, make sure you call the airline ahead of time. Check, actually, on, and in our flight information section, to see what gate your plane is going to be at or what gate your grandma`s plane is going at, if she`s coming to visit you - you know, be prepared.
ALLEN: And if you are online checking, people can expect that this is up-to-the-minute information about their flight?
BARTON: For gate information and for whether or not your plane is delayed or canceled, it is up-to-the-minute information. It doesn`t hurt to double and triple check, however, because once you head out to the airport, you know, if your plane has canceled or delayed, you know, you`re in for a long period of time, perhaps. You know, we actually have a very popular section on right now called “Stuck at the Airport,” in our holiday travel section, that is a whole host of tips on what you can do at individual airports if you`re stuck there with your kids, or what have you: go shopping, places to eat, you know. Airports, more and more, are becoming like malls.
ALLEN: There`s just so much fun to be had. - BARTON: Yes, I know: Take a deep breath, though. - ALLEN: Right, you have to have a pretty good attitude about it, because you`re in there with a million other people. Richard Barton,, thanks, Richard, and wish me luck: I`ve got to go pick up my mom… - (CROSSTALK)
BARTON: I`m out there with you tomorrow, so…
ALLEN: OK, thanks, Richard. - BARTON: Bye-bye.