Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Airfare Tips

Did you know that traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday will save you money on air travel, and that connecting flights are often cheaper than non-stops? And did you know that airlines raise fares for travel during peak holiday periods and for last-minute travel? And were you aware that when shopping you should check fares from all airports that are a short drive from your nearest airport?

In addition, has gathered some additional advice that might save you money next time you’re shopping for a plane ride.

Check fares often
Airfares fluctuate like the stock market so you need to check them every day, or better still several times a day, if you’re serious about saving money. Airlines can update domestic fares three times a day during the week, and once on Saturday and Sunday. International fares tend not to change as often, but can be updated up to 5 times daily. Also, even if the fare itself hasn’t changed, seat availability at the lowest fares can change, so there might be just one seat available at 10 a.m., but the airline will open up more cheap seats later in the day.

Try a flexible fare search
If you’re at all flexible, you can sometimes save hundreds by adjusting your travel dates. Travelocity will search most domestic fares and many international ones over a 330 day search period; Orbitz and Hotwire cover nearly all routes from the U.S., but only over 30 day periods. also has a good flexible date search function.

Sign up for the airlines’ e-mail feeds and frequent flyer programs
I know you probably get too many emails, but this one could save you dollars.

Sign up for fare free alerts
Most airfare web sites offer these, and they all have something to offer. lets you track your specific itinerary, down to the flight number and dates of travel, and will let you know if the airline owes you a price-drop refund. Travelocity’s easy-to-use FareWatcherPlus lets you track up to ten routes and you can choose to be notified either when a fare goes down by $25 or more, or when it goes below a price you choose. Orbitz and Kayak also offer alerts, as does Bing Travel. But since all of these sites use the same airfare data provided by the airlines’ computer systems, they won’t include discounted promo code fares, and most don’t include Southwest Airlines. does provide promo code and Southwest alerts, although it covers far fewer routes than the above-mentioned sites.

Search airline sites individually
Some airlines have “private” sales, reserving their very best fares for their own sites. These are different from promo code fares. Airfarewatchdog fare searchers often find lower fares on, even without discounts such as a recent system-wide 20 percent off promo code, than on third-party sites. International airlines such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qantas regularly offer lower fares (i.e., $100-$400 less) on their own web sites compared to what you’ll find on Kayak or Orbitz.

Buy hotel + air packages
It could be significantly cheaper to buy an air plus hotel package rather than airfare alone.

Use Priceline for last minute trips
If you don’t have a 7, 14, or 21 day advance purchase window to buy your fare, your best bet is the “name your own price” feature of True, you won’t know the exact flight times or airline you’re flying until to pay for your trip, but you can save 50 percent or more.

Combine two separate fares rather than buying one fare
If you’re flying to a destination in Europe, you might save money by purchasing one fare from the U.S. to, say, Dublin, and another from Dublin onward.

Buy tickets on an airline that will refund the difference if a fare goes down
Currently, the “nice” airlines are JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska.

Don’t listen to airfare pundits who predict airfares
Airlines are unpredictable creatures. With that in mind any airfare expert who claims he knows that airfares will be lower or higher in the coming months is just trying to snag some publicity. No one can accurately predict where airfares are heading.

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