In order to find the best flight fares and schedules you need to know WHEN and WHERE to look and HOW to search. Yes, it is that easy, and all you need to know is several tricks.
First of all, do you need a domestic or an international travel ticket?
Domestic Airline Travel
These can be US domestic, within Europe, or within any country or other continent. If you are looking great deals on such tickets, you need to know WHERE to look for best fares. If you are looking for cheap US flights, your best shot might be both US local airlines and local or online travel agencies. Airlines compete among each other and they will give the best deals (just know WHEN to look). Travel agencies usually negotiate the low-cost flight ticket with airlines. So they both might be able to meet your travel needs offer you similar low airfares. The only downside for travel agencies is that they usually earn 0 commission on domestic flight tickets. Since agencies need to survive, they are forced to add a small service fee on the top of the ticket price. If you do not mind that, call your travel agent or best of all go online and check flights yourself.
If you’re traveling within Europe, you might want to contact a travel agent or search online travel agents’ websites first. In Europe local travel agencies and agencies outside Europe that specialize in international travel (like www.Faretex.com ) will have low flight fares because they use very low so called consolidator fares. This is nothing else, but negotiated contracts with airlines to sell special very low priced airline tickets.
International Airline Travel
If you’re a resident of the US, traveling to or within Europe, you may check out information on travel within Europe above.
What concerns transatlantic, transpacific or other between countries international travel, your best bet is a travel agency. The consolidators will offer you the cheapest airfare deals and will find you the best schedules. Depending on personal preferences, some might prefer talking to a travel agent, while others would want to do their own fare search online at their own pace. There is no right or wrong choice here. As long as you find a flight and low-cost airfare that work for you, you succeed.
HOW to find a travel agency or a good travel website
Always work with a travel agent (in person or online) or travel website that specializes in your travel destination or region. For example, if you need to fly from the US to Europe, search for ‘flights to Europe’ or so. Usually online search will give you best results for cheap international flight ticket. Check several websites or call several travel agents and compare the deals.
NOTE, you might know lots of huge agencies like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. They might seem attractive to you because they’re big and well known. But they will not always give you the best flight, hotel or cruise deals. They might be good for US domestic travel, but not always for international travel. So going with a small and focused on certain destination agency would be a good choice.
HOW and WHEN to search for best fares
Where you need a flight, hotel or a cruise, you need to know how to find the best fares and when to look for those.
Let’s say that you found a travel agent or travel website that specialized in your travel destination.
5 tips on How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets:
- Be Flexible. In order to find lowest airfare, you might need to be flexible on travel dates, arrival/departure times, airlines, and sometimes destinations. If you read a section on “How to Change an Airline Ticket”, you’ll find information on the structure of the ticket fares. In short, there are different price levels for every flight and the only difference is the price and number of seats an airline assigns to that price level. Therefore, if you want to find cheap airline tickets, the following needs to be taken into consideration: when you buy a ticket, how popular is the destination, travel season (peak or low), and how full the flight gets.
- Book domestic flight tickets as early as you can (this applied to some international travel as well). Most domestic airlines have best fares with 21, 14, and 7 day advance purchase. This means that you may find lower fares when booking (= purchasing) a flight this many days before the flight. In some case this might be proven wrong – when airlines cannot fill the seats and start offering discounted airline tickets shortly before the departure date. So keep an eye on what is going on with the flight.
- ‘Play’ with the flight search. This means that you need to be creative when searching for flights. Check flights couple days or weeks (if possible) earlier and later, check various airlines, different connections (an airline might have several hubs or fly with 1 or several connections), search based on price and try searching based on schedule (you’ll see different results) . This will help you find the best deals on plane tickets.
- Check air travel package deals. If the purpose of your travel is vacation, instead of booking flights, hotel, and car rental separately, check on air travel package rates. Sometimes your total travel package rate is lower that if you book everything separately.
- Use miles or points when possible. Apply for airline/ hotel/ car rental, etc. frequent traveler programs. They are FREE, and you can get lots of benefits. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a hotel room when Hilton Hotel is in my destination. Check out Hilton Honors website here. Go to the airline, car rental, or hotel websites and sign up. You can find the list of world airlines and their websites here. The only disadvantage of using miles and points is that you need to book your travel early as there is limited number of seats for miles or points on the plane and they go fast.
If you cannot decide whether to use an airline or a travel agent, here are some suggestions.
AIRLINE vs. TRAVEL AGENT/AGENCY WEBSITE
Advantages of booking a ticket with an airline:
- you are talking directly to the carrier ( i.e. airline), the entity responsible for a flight operations
- it may take much less time to deal with the airline directly (if an agent knows his/her job)
- airline customers representatives are usually open 24/7
- flight changes can be made directly with the airline
Advantages of using travel agents or travel websites:
- lower negotiated (consolidator) fares
- more flight options; travel agents/online travel booking websites search all possible airlines, not just one
- low fares available 24/7 given that an agency has a online booking system
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