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Ask Peter: Booking Blocked Seats & Bucket-List Cruise Deals

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Yesterday, we threw a Twitter party all about creating the better bucket list. Today, in our weekly “Ask Peter” column, Peter looks at a few of the standout bucket-list questions. Plus, as usual, he answers emails, tweets and Facebook posts.

Peter answers questions online and on air on his weekly Peter Greenberg Worldwide broadcast. You can call (1-888-88-PETER (1-888-887-3837)), email him (, tweet questions to @petersgreenberg (use #askPeter), or post questions on his Facebook page.

Remember to leave your contact number if you want to talk to Peter on air for a real-time conversation (we all know how important that is) to solve your travel dilemma.

Keep reading to see this week’s better bucket list answers!

Question from Pat in New York: I have noticed that US Airways always shows the first rows in both first class and coach as booked on every domestic flight. We travel between Tampa and Washington Reagan, several times every year and it seems odd that this is always the case. I tried Googling but that offered nothing, do you have a clue?

Peter replied: Actually I do! Turns out that airlines always block those rows off for their high-end frequent fliers until the day of departure. In fact, the seats are usually held from 24 to 3 hours before departure. Here’s the secret if you pick up the phone, you might actually find that they’ll release that block and give you the seats, especially if you are traveling first class.

For more information on better seats, check out Peter’s tip on Secret Seats.

Lynn emailed: My best friend forever, the bff, and I are planning next year, 2013, to take one of our trips from our bucket list. Alaska and Hawaii are at the top of the list. We are seniors, but we are still employed. Well there’s a no-brainer. The end of June or the very first week of July works best, we would like it to be a cruise, as we believe that is the best way to go economically. I spent three hours searching websites today, it was very confusing to say the least. We’ve both been on cruises before when we were single. I can’t tell which one got us the better discount. I was also trying to find cruise and airfare deals. Ok, here’s the problem, she says. We both live in different states. She lives in Chicago, I live in Southern California. I’m on a much tighter budget than she is. I’m always looking for the best deals.

Peter answered: When it comes to deals, think timing. You go at the end of June, as early as you can. before too many kids get out of school and the cruise lines crowd the inside passage. In terms of plane tickets, if you’re flying from Southern California and she’s flying from Chicago, you meet in Vancouver. Buy your plane tickets directly and purchase an open-jaw ticket that lets you fly from Los Angeles to Vancouver and then from Seward back to Los Angeles. And she’ll fly Chicago to Vancouver and Seward back to Chicago.

Now, here’s how you save money on the cruise. Since you’re the best of friends, you did say bff, you’re going to only rent one cabin so you won’t be paying the dreaded solo supplement. Remember cruise lines don’t make money from selling you the cabin, they make money from all the on-board revenue—the casino, the spa, the signature restaurants, the ice skating rink, the rock climbing wall, and of course those shore excursions. And many of those shore excursions, you can do on your own and you can do better. The one shore excursion I recommend booking through the cruise line is the helicopter ride through the Mendenhall Glacier because the cruise lines block-book every available helicopter so they control those rides. It’s worth the added expense to get up on top of that glacier and take a great photo op for you and your bff.

For more information on Alaska travel, check out our Alaska archives.