Hello and welcome back to the 3rd installment of my 6 part series, where I explore the epic journey to Microsoft Ignite 2017, down in Orlando, FL at the Orange County Convention Center, Sept. 25th – Sept 29th.
As you will recall from episode two, we tackled registration and accommodations. In this month’s episode, we will discuss purchasing airfare and transportation to and from the conference center venue. With that out of the way, lets jump right in.
For the sake of this episode, I will assume that most of you are flying in for the entire conference, not including the pre-sessions. Obviously, if you are planning to attend a pre-session, you will want to adjust your dates accordingly. For the rest of us, we will likely be flying into Orlando on Sunday, September 24th, prior to the conference, and staying until Friday September, 29th, which is the last day.
Purchasing Airline Tickets for Microsoft Ignite 2017
Interestingly, most people I discuss travel with make airfare their top priority, and always rush to purchase airline tickets. I believe most people feel the common theme to purchasing airfare is synonymous with the adage, “the early bird gets the worm”. Meaning, the earlier you buy tickets the cheaper the tickets are. While this may have some truth to it, I have often found the sweet spot for airfare to be somewhere between 2-3 months out from your anticipated travel date, and for some odd reason, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s always appear to be the days that airlines drop prices on tickets.
The reality is that airline ticket prices fluctuate from month to month. You should expect to budget $500 for a base economy round trip airfare.. Depending on the carrier you settle with, and any upgrades you may require, this price can increase further, especially when they add in taxes, etc. There are several app’s such as hipmunk, or hopper, which actually track airfare price changes on your behalf, and can send you notification, when the prices are at their lowest. I personally use hopper, as I find its interface to be easy on the eyes, and very intuitive.
I am very much a “less is more” kind of guy, as I remember back (dating myself here) to when airlines checked our bags for free, gave us a drink, and a snack/meal, at no additional cost. So when I fly today, I always eat early, arrive to the airport early (at least 2 hours), and only buy a beverage or snack in the terminal, prior to boarding the plane, because I prefer to not pay any more for services on the plane, which I still feel should be included at no cost. Anyways, I digress.
If you are checking a bag, expect to pay anywhere from $20 – $75 per bag, depending on its weight. If you are planning to carry on, make sure to check the airlines website, to get the bag’s maximum dimensions allowed for carry on. Almost all the airlines allow 1 carry on bag, and 1 personal item. (such as a backpack, or a purse.), anymore, and expect to pay either a fee for the carry on, or the airline may require you to check the bag.
Depending on how you feel about traveling through security, you may want to consider CLEAR, or TSA PreCheck. CLEAR and TSA PreCheck are expedited security screening programs, and work to expedite the security screening process, by registering and paying a fee. CLEAR, uses bio-metrics to verify your identity, and after you are authenticated you are allowed to use the TSA PreCheck line through security. On the other hand, TSA PreCheck allows you to preregister, complete a background check, provide fingerprints and after complete, you will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN). This KTN can be including on your profile for any airlines, and it will be printed directly on your boarding pass. This allows you to receive expedited service via the TSA PreCheck line for any flights that participate.
The cost for each of these services is:
Additional Note – While PreCheck is often a savior and provides expedited service through security, keep in mind, anyone for any reason can be selected for further screening, so plan accordingly, and always expect the unexpected.
Finally in this episode, lets briefly discuss transportation. Depending on your plans, and what you intend to see/do while in the Orlando area, you may or may not be interesting in renting a car to adventure around the city. If you do rent a car, expect to pay at least $300 for the week depending on who you use, and I would encourage you to prepay for the tolls as they quickly add up while driving around the city. If you are comfortable stopping for gas prior to returning the car, you will save a substantial amount over pre-paying for fuel. There are several gas stations within 10 miles of the airport, so finding a gas station prior to returning the rental, shouldn’t be a problem. Just don’t forget to fill up prior to returning the rental car, as they will slap you with a pretty hefty penalty for not returning the rental car with a full tank of gas.
It will take approximately 20 minutes to drive from the Airport to the Convention Center. All attendee’s are responsible for their own transportation to/from the Airport to their Hotel. For information on ground transportation options to and from the Orlando International Airport, click here.
If you booked your hotel via the Microsoft Ignite registration system as I highly encouraged you to do in Episode 2, you will be provided shuttle service between your hotel and the convention center. If not, and if you are not booked at one of the hotels listed on the MS Ignite Pricing page, you will likely need to either rent a car, or pay for taxi service to and from your hotel to the convention center.
So we’ve come to the end of episode three! We are half way to Microsoft Ignite! Wow, that was an adventure! So, for now, I’ll leave you until July, 24th. In the forth episode I plan to devote the discussion to the session catalog, and planning your agenda.
As before, follow me on Twitter (@chrisrbmn), and keep an eye open for my tweets during the conference. I will be tweeting any Microsoft Ignite 2017 content, making daily updates, including but not limited to the keynote speech, along with any sessions I attend.
Do you have any questions? Anything you want me to add to the series? Tell me about it in the comments below.