Explore all options when searching for best deal

From Stripes.com

Explore all options when searching for best deal

by: . | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: May 29, 2013

Editor’s note: Here’s some helpful pointers to finding the cheapest commercial flight available. Some may be time consuming, but they’ll pay off in the end if you are diligent.

Sign up with individual airlines to receive their e-deals, which offer last-minute fares and are published each week.

  • Know the budget airlines that go to your destination and check their sites.
  • Check Priceline and Hotwire. Though www.priceline.com and www.hotwire.com provide regular flight-booking services, both also offer potential money-saving twists. On Priceline, you can bid for a flight, then discover the airline and times after you pay. Hotwire shows you the price upfront, then reveals the carrier and flight times after you’ve provided your credit card number.
  • Be aware of extra fees. Most airlines now charge fees for checked bags, overweight luggage, meals, unaccompanied minors, well-positioned seats, etc. Those fees can turn a cheap fare into an expensive one. The fee schedules can be found on individual airline sites. Also, pages on several general travel sites, including www.kayak.com/airline-fees and www.expedia.com/daily/flights/airline-fees.asp, have fee charts that cover multiple airlines.
  • Check other budget sites. A number of sites — including www.cheapoair.com, www.travelzoo.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.cfares.com, www.budgettravel.com, and www.independenttraveler.com — are frequently updated and full of bargains.
  • Each Wednesday, Travelzoo unveils its Top 20 deals, which include airfare specials, packages and hotel bargains. Look on the site, or sign up to have them e-mailed to you.

Consider last-minute specialists or auction sites. Check out the packages at services such as Lastminute.com, which offers late-breaking air-and-hotel combos. Although you might not need the hotel, the package price could beat the no-advance-purchase fares offered elsewhere. Or go to a site such as www.skyauction.com, where you can bid for an airline ticket; just remember that once you buy, you’re stuck with the ticket.

  • Turn off the computer ... and contact your base travel office. A good agent will know where to look for cheaper fares and can give you pointers on how to find them. Also, for complicated itineraries, such as an around-the-world ticket, check with an agent who works with consolidators; many consolidators don’t deal directly with the public.
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