Getting Good Airline Ticket Deals

By: Alex J Smith

Very often, when you want to get good deals on airline tickets, you wait for the ads to tell you that the "airfare price warfare" times are on, or for your travel agent to tell you more about bargain fares.

To be sure, there are great bargains to be made during the airfare price wars. When travel volumes are slow, airlines frequently slash their regular rates to entice people to buy tickets. During such times, the best deals often go to the early comers, so it pays to track Internet fares, regularly scan business and travel sections in the newspapers, and leave word with your travel agent to always alert you when special fare offers are in effect.

In the meantime, you may want to consider the following ways to get good airline ticket deals.

•There may be cheaper fares available when you call airlines between midnight and 1am during weekdays. Airline agents usually recalculate and load new fares into the computer networks at midnight. During that one-hour window, a handful of rock-bottom fares can be up for grabs.

•Fares are cheaper for mid-week flights. If you can fly out any day between Tuesday to Thursday, and stay over a Saturday night, you can save considerably over fares on flights departing Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

•Arrange to check into alternative airports. Many major cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington, and London have two airports. Additionally, nearby cities also have airports. Compare fares for carriers (regional airlines included) that fly into all these alternative airports to find the lowest price.

•There are instances when purchasing one-way or split tickets turn out cheaper. For example, a Raleigh to Boston trip may be cheaper if you buy two separate tickets - one from Raleigh to Atlanta, and another from Atlanta to Boston. This depends on the airline and where its connecting cities and hubs are located. In the Southeast, the major airline hubs are in Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh. It is usually cheaper to drive or fly to these cities and depart from them. Regional airlines are an economical way to get you to a major city where fares are cheaper. A good travel agent should help you check all possibilities and find the best deal for your needs - but be sure to tell the agent if you are willing to fly out of other cities or airports to save money.

•Use an online service to help you compare. You enter destinations and relevant dates, and the online service searches dozens of affiliated regional and international airlines to come up with the lowest price. These online services enable you to bypass SABRE-powered services, which account for approximately three-fourths of all travel bookings worldwide. Since the airlines and agencies do not have to pay for using SABRE, they can offer you cheaper fares. Warning: these fares are not always lower than other sources.

Who has the best deal on airline tickets - Internet travel sites, airlines, or consolidators? This is a very common question, but realistically a pat answer is not forthcoming. Most of the time, consolidators (whether Internet or otherwise) will be able to give you the cheapest fares.

However, there are times when add-on airfares offered by tours or cruise ships turn out to be the best deals. And sometimes, airlines provide unbeatable vacation packages during non-peak travel seasons, or when it is time to engage in airfare price warfare. In order to get the best deals, make it a habit to check all the possibilities before you buy an airline ticket or book any other type of travel.

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