Are You Letting The Airlines Get The Upper Hand On You?

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Today, there are so many on-line travel search engines that it can get overwhelming for the average person to know if they are getting the best fare for their flight. You can spend hours looking, searching and still not find the best fare.

Flexibility, even if you can’t be flexible, is the real key to searching for the lowest fare. If you can be flexible, even by one day, you may save hundreds of dollars. If you can’t be flexible you still need to make the airlines think you can.

Before we get to deep into how to find your flight, there’s one trick you need to know about. All booking sites record web browsing data. Some will use this information to increase prices when they know you are interested in a certain flight. Have you ever searched for a flight and get one price only to go back later and search it again only to find the price has increased? Always clear your web browser before you search again. You might just find the original price again. Now you are ready to shop.

Another tip, is don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight. Three months ahead is the best time to book and some airlines will give you an early-bird discount. Over three months really doesn’t have any dramatic advantages.

If it’s a vacation you are planning, you might want to consider going off-season. Various regions have different Off Seasons. If you can fly during these times, depending on your destination, you can usually fly cheaper. I have listed the off-seasons below:
* Australia & New Zealand – August
* Asia:January- February
* Europe: November- March
* South America: March – November
* The Caribbean: November – March

Make a list of the airlines you usually use and follow them on Twitter. Do the same for the Hotels and follow them. Some especially Jet-Blue and Virgin Atlantic are very active in promoting their hottest deals in real time. (Facebook doesn’t offer this, so its no use to add them there.) Hotels are great about posting their deals on twitter. Don’t forget that each and every time you do a search for an online fare, delete your cookies, cache and search history first.

Start your search with Kayak. It works for flexible or fixed dates on domestic and international flights. They also give you complete price, with taxes and fees, if for some reason you prefer to use another site, Skyscraper is worth looking at. It also has a flexible search tool. 52% of its customers are return users, which is a testament in itself.

Travelocity used to be the best travel search site, but today the company is not even in the running. They have a record for high-prices and poor customer service.

Some of the newer and better rated travel search sites are Vayama.com, Hipmunk.com, Google flights (www.itasoftworre.com). Google is great at pulling up every fare accurately, but the downside is you can’t book directly through google. You need to link out to anther site in order to book your flight.

Another way of getting cheaper flights is to fly into an alternate airport. Sometimes the alternate airport might even be closer to your destination. Even if you have to drive, it might be worth hundreds of dollars of savings to do so.

Now let’s talk a little more about the flexible date option, even if you can’t be flexible, Typically, how it works is you will put in a range of dates for your departure and return then you pick your original dates from the list. Some of the best travel websites to use when you are using flexible searching are :
* Kayack
* Skyscanner
* Orbit
* Hotwire – Only US flights
* Travelocity – only domestic flights

Word Of Caution: When using flexible date options with some travel searches, the taxes and fees are not added until you select your flight. Fees charged by the airport can vary dramatically.

Bottom line-Don’t make your final decision on price until your flight is selected and you receive the final total.

After you have found the fare you like, always compare it to the airline’s website, just to make sure their fare isn’t lower. One other point, when you are checking travel sites for fares, make sure you check the box to also search for alternate airports, near-by.

My last tip to help you get cheap flights is at auctions. You can save thousands of dollars, but auctions are not for the timid. If this sounds interesting, the best thing to do is first spend some time on the sites to see how they work. And always read the fine print before you bid. SkyAuction.com seems to be the best auction site, but there are others that are good also as long as you remember to read all the rules. Each one operates differently. Some of the others are LuxuryLink.com, FlightFax.com, and CruiseComplete.com – used for cruises. Priceline.com is good for rental cars and motels.

I hope some of these tips might help save you save money the next time you fly. If you find a deal using one of these methods or you have a different way that works for you, we would definitely love to hear from you, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. If you find this article useful I would appreciate you sharing it with your friends and family.

10 thoughts on “Are You Letting The Airlines Get The Upper Hand On You?”

  1. Erika, I am so glad I was able to help you. You will have to come back when you book your next flight and let us know how much you saved from previous bookings.

  2. Wow! That makes so much more sense now! I am always looking for cheap flights to Ecuador because I lived there for a while and i like to go back to visit friends. Now I know why the prices have gone crazy on me. Ugh that was such a great tip! I will be sure to clear my browing history before searching now. Thank you! You have saved me some money!!!

  3. Thanks Matt’s Mom, for your comments and on helping to verify my information. I agree that people need to know this. With the economy like it is, it is up to us to share and help anyone we can to save money. Airline prices are already high enough. Thank you, again for your comment.

  4. I am glad you found this post helpful, Christine. We, as the consumer need to be aware of how our searches affect us. Booking online is so simple that we sometimes forget how we can be taken advantage of. Our cookies give the airlines the ability to see and remember what we are searching for. Once we clear them out, they loose their tracking ability on us.

  5. Adrian, thank you so much for your comments. if you use these methods, you will save money. This day and time, companies, even airlines keep a close eye on what you do so even though it makes it easy for us to book online, the cookies we send out make it easy for the airlines to keep up with us, also. Clearing your data, clears your cookies which in turn causes them to loose their data collected on you.

  6. I’m glad you liked the information Mikael. If you use these tips you will see a difference. Thank you for commenting on your thoughts.

  7. I too provide information on traveling so this information is not new to me. More people need to know it though, as you can definitely find good prices by shopping around, being flexible with dates, not booking at the last minute, and then I always clear my cache. As you says, they look for that information and then provide higher prices.

  8. Hi
    I love to travel and I am always looking for the best deals. Thanks for providing all the websites. There are so many it is hard to know which ones are good to use. You mentioned a number of sites that I had not even known about. Also thanks so much for the tip on clearing out your search cookies and browser history. I never would have thought of that and I have gone back to a site to find the price had gone up on the flight I was searching.
    Thanks again for the great information.
    Christine

  9. You really have put in some good tips there that I wasn’t aware of but they could be very useful, the next time I go to book a flight.

    I know booking your flights early does help as I have sometimes received an early bird discount but I was surprised about the web browsing data and how they can use that against you to raise the price to give you the impression that it’s in hot demand and you better book now.

    That’s really quite clever of them, so knowing these tips can sure help prevent them from getting the upper hand on you in regards to flights.

  10. Nice tips. Thanks for sharing. Especially interesting what you mention about clearing the web browser before booking. Will definitely try this the next time I am booking to see if it changes the price.

    Have not heard about the auctions before. Sounds interesting, and will read a bit more about and check out the site you recommend. Thanks

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