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 :
* 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.