With gasoline prices ever fluctuating, more and more people choose flying as a mode of transportation. A little bit of planning and preparation go a long way in finding an air fare that will best suit your budget. Here are some tips that you may find useful.
Things You'll Need
- A computer with internet access
- Pen and paper
- A telephone
- An origination and destination
- Tentative dates
You will first need to determine where it is you need to go, and where you would like to depart from. It is often cheaper to leave and fly into a smaller airport or a co-terminal. If you are an inexperienced traveler, it may be better for you to travel on a direct flight, or through a smaller connection city. Keep in mind though that it is usually cheaper to connect that to fly direct.
Determine at least tentatively when you would like to leave and when you would like to arrive. This includes not only the actual day, but also the time of day you would like to arrive or leave. If possible, consider taking the earliest flight possible. Weather delays occur more often in the afternoons, when thunderstorms have had a chance to develop. You will also need to consider the fact that many of the cheaper air fares involve a weekend stay. Read all conditions before booking anything.
Once you have your dates and destinations hammered out, book as soon as possible to secure the cheapest fare. The farther in advance that you can book, the cheaper your fare will be. A good rule of thumb is that the cheapest fares require at least 3 weeks of notice. Never try to buy a ticket on the same day of departure, as all of the cheaper economy fares will have been booked already by others.
It is usually cheaper to go through an internet travel site than to book with either the airline directly or through a travel agent. Hit all of the main travel sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, etc. Then, visit the websites of the airline as well to compare prices. Try to book online to avoid airline ticketing fees. Airline ticketing fees are charged for booking by phone as well as booking at the airport, and they typically run between $15 and $20. Be sure to print out receipts and try to reserve seats before you leave the site.
Tips & Warnings
- If you are traveling on military order or for emergency purposes, you can find cheaper fares if you contact the airline directly. Internet websites usually do not offer military, government rates, or bereavement fares.
- If you are traveling for emergency reasons, try to find what is called a bereavement fare, as there is no penalty for changing your date of return.
- Be sure that you are familiar with all of the stipulations of your ticket before you purchase.
- Most important of all: BE FLEXIBLE if you want to travel cheaply.
- Consider using your frequent flyer miles or borrowing a friend or family member's miles. Keep in mind though that seats are subject to availability and allow extra time for booking.
- Although you should bring a copy of your receipt and your itinerary as a precaution, you do not typically need to show your intinerary to the agent who checks you inn at the airport. All you should need to provide is the flight number or the time you are leaving.
- Cheaper tickets mean more restrictions. This means there will be a fee involved to change any details whatsoever regarding your ticket. Restrictions include things such as the ticket being nonrefundable, nontransferable, and there will most certainly be a fee for any changes. The fee for changes is usually close to $100 USD and the airline may also charge you for the difference of the fare that you booked versus the same day fare. This can be EXTREMELY expensive.
- Tickets purchased from travel sites and travel agencies are often what the industry calls 'bulk tickets.' This means that these tickets were purchased in bulk by the site or the agency, and that means to the airline that there is basically no money in them. For those passengers with bulk tickets, this is important, because the airlines do not have to allow any changes whatsoever, and if there are any major delays, the airline does not have to transfer you to another airline to make it to your final destination.
- The longer you wait to book a desired flight, the greater the chance that you may become booked an a flight that is oversold. Please plan accordingly.
- If you have booked a flight using frequent flyer miles, please be advised that in the case of a weather delay, the airline is not obligated to send you on another airline, and that if you should need to change your intinerary, there may not be any frequent flyer seats available on short notice.
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