Finding Low Airfares 101
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a beary safe and great weekend. Dab the AIDS Bear and I are still recovering from our recent illness.
Having traveled the world speaking at HIV, cancer and bullying events; Dab the AIDS Bear and I have learned a lot of tips about finding low airfares. So I thought I would blog some of those tips today.
Don't ignore Online Travel Agencies!
Yes, airline sites may have the best deals sometimes, but they won't allow you to compare fares and schedules on a wide variety of airlines at a glance. And sometimes you'll find the best deal flying out on one airline and back on another. Delta.com won't tell you that it's cheaper taking Delta from New York to LA combining a return on Virgin America. OTA's also have some good package deals that might be cheaper than buying airfare and hotel separately.
Watch out for promo codes
See those little promo code boxes on your favorite airline's website? What's that all about? From time to time, you'll receive promo codes in your e-mail because you signed up for e-mail from your favorite airlines and online travel agencies. These codes can only be redeemed if you book directly on the airlines' websites, another way they try to build consumer loyalty and cut out the middleman. Try doing a browser search for “airline + promo code” to find mentions of these codes online, or check right here--the Airfarewatchdog blog--where promo code deals are regularly listed.
When to use your miles
After you've found what you think is a good airfare, ask yourself if it's worth spending some frequent flier miles instead. There are smart ways to spend your miles and less smart ones. Rather than cashing in 25,000 or even 50,000 miles for a domestic economy class ticket that might have cost you $250 or $300, why not splurge for a trip to Europe (50,000 miles on some airlines) that might cost two or three times more; or upgrade your $400 economy class seat to a $2,800 business class fare for 30,000 miles on domestic routes? A general rule: if the economy class fare is $400 or more, spending 25,000 miles is a good deal. Less than that, you might be better offering paying cash and saving your miles.
Check Southwest and Allegiant Airlines separately
If Southwest flies where you're going, you'll have to surf over to Southwest.com to see their fares. Another smaller, but growing, carrier that sells only directly to consumers is Allegiant Airlines (allegiantair.com).
Getting the best last-minute airfares
You'll often get the best fares if you book at least 7 days or more ahead of departure. But what if you don't have that luxury? Other than the airlines' last-minute weekend fares, which you can find on their sites, your best bet is Priceline.com's "Name your own price" feature or Hotwire.com.
Consolidator (“wholesale”) fares
There are many “unpublished” fares out there that you won’t find on the typical websites like Kayak. If you work for a large company, you may already be enjoying these “negotiated” rates, which are especially low on business and first class flights. But if you don’t have access to them through work, you might be able to score a heavily discounted business/first fare with travel agencies such as PlanetAmex.com.
Hope these tips help you get a better rate the next time you plan on flying for vacation and you have a beary safe and great week.
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,