Cheap Airfare Tips?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by petite, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. petite

    petite New Member

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    There seem to be many well-traveled LPSG-ers. Please share your tips for finding cheap airfare!
     
  2. CumSwallower

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    cheapflights.com is good starting point, but where do you want to fly from-to? Many cheap airlines don't appear on search engines- Do you need help re Europe, N Am, S Am, Asia?
     
  3. willow78

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    Grow feathers and wings.....
     
  4. midlifebear

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    Well, let's say for example, that you want to go to Indonesia. Take a long string and tie one end to your index finger. Send the other end of the string to a friend in Indonesia.

    He pulls. You go.
     
  5. Industrialsize

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  6. SilverTrain

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    Find the ghost of H.G. Wells and get him/it to whip you up a time machine. Even a year ago, prices were so much better.

    Otherwise, I have the best experiences with Cheap Tickets.

    Good luck. :smile:
     
  7. nudeyorker

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    If you are looking for a one time cheap fix, use the travel sites on the internet, the deals are pretty amazing if your travel plans are flexible.
    If however you want to build a program for continued travel in the future with perks, then look for an airline that serves your area to the most destinations and code shares with other carriers. I used to use United but I switched to Continental a few years ago.I also use Hawaiian Airlines; between the two I can go anywhere in the world. Join their frequent flyer reward program and also consider getting a credit card from the airline(If you buy the ticket with the airline credit card often you don't have to pay to check your bag). I have one but I use Amex to book most flights to get mile rewards.
    If you travel fairly regularly you can earn free tickets in a relatively short amount of time. You can also use the miles to upgrade to business or first class and it's far more cost effective in most cases to use miles for the upgrade than the cost of the higher priced ticket.
    You can also use miles to join the airlines club lounge because it's much nicer to be in a quiet club room in most airports than in the terminal especially if you have a lengthy lay over. If you are not a frequent traveller you can buy a day pass to the clubs but it's money well spent to get away from the fray and bedlam and calm your travel wary nerves.
     
    #7 nudeyorker, Mar 15, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  8. hud01

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    Depends on where you want to go. Living in NYC JetBlue is always a great one.

    Sign up for the major airline news letters, as well as Kayak and airfare watch dog. Travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays as those are the days that are usually the cheapest.

    Always search with flexible dates if possible.

    When you calculate the cost of travel you need to add in everything. JetBlue and Southwest don't charge for baggage. Airtran charges extra to pre select your seat. So if you do the math a RT flight on Airtran could have as much as $74 in extra costs.

    Also do the trip all the way through, believe it or not airlines show taxes different ways, so one airline could advertise a cheap fare, but have twice the taxes of another.

    For flights to the UK Virgin is good airline and to Asia Cathay Pacific has good fares.

    For hotels, I have had great luck using Hotwire. I would guess over the last 6-8 years I have saved over $1,000.

    If you use a site such as Expedia, before you book, go to the hotel or airline's own site, as sometimes they save the best only for direct booking.
     
  9. midlifebear

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    Nudeyorker's advice is rather good. However, for the absolute cheapest prices on the web you must be prepared to sit in the middle seat in the middle row on long-haul passenger jets. For some reason Asians prefer the last couple of rows on long-haul jets; probably because there is no great competition for them, little Asian women can often sprawl out across three seats, and they are close to three restrooms. I'm not being racist. I'm being observant. Asians traveling to South America, Manhattan, and Europe must suffer much longer flights than those living in Europe and the USA atlantic traffic. Therefore, little Asian women are smart -- and frugal.

    Remember, there are three classes of travel on the same plane: business/1st class, economy, and tourist. The difference between economy and tourist doesn't always mean the same thing on all airlines. Some Tourist tickets can be upgraded with sky miles. Most can't. Same goes for Economy. If you discover you have U or Y on your ticket, they can also SOMETIMES be upgraded with sky miles -- sometimes.

    There is a third type of flight class you'll only find through a good travel agent and that is charter. Sometimes Internet sites such as Cheaptickets or Orbits may have a real inexpensive ticket that includes all country of origin and airport taxes to Germany or Moscow for an unbelievable low price. Most likely it's a charter ticket. These are usually the few seats a travel club, church group, or some other organization needs to fill to cover their costs of chartering a jet. However, you are at the mercy of a charter flight. You can only leave and return on the days noted on the ticket. No exchanges. No returns. And greater chance of having your luggage messed with. And the company flying the charter flight often doesn't recognize the flight in their computer because the codes don't match. But examples of good charter ticket are those offered through your credit card. American Express is the master of the chartered flight. That's why, during the middle of winter you can only fly to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel, or some Caribbean spot for 2 days and 3 nights, or some odd short period.

    Edit: A word about American Express. I live and die by the AmEx. And rather than the old Green Card which costs a whopping $55 a year to carry in your wallet, they offer a variety of card products that issue sky miles good on almost all airlines willing to accept them. It might be worth checking their products and seeing if there is one that might be a good fit for your wallet. I've got so many ski miles on a Delta American Express Card that I'll never use them all (primarily, because they're hooked in with Delta). But years before there was such a thing as a Delta Sky Miles Card, American Express got me out of San Salvador, the capital of the tiny country of El Salvador, in the middle of a full-blown civil war in the middle of the night and to safety in Mexico City. So, check them out. They have some amazing insurance programs for lost luggage and their car rental discounts (which regularly change from rental company to rental company) cannot be undersold by any competitor. Plus, they are nice.

    Another option is sign up for every airline travel club. They also know that an unsold seat is a seat they will never get to sell again. So, Wednesdays you'll often receive a ton of "cheap seats" for the following Thursday or Friday. However, you must be as flexible as Cirque du Soleil regarding departure, arrival, and return times. And if you go this option, joining airline frequent flier clubs, you'll suddenly become an expert on which airlines have the best service. And if you're a citizen of the USA you quickly learn that US Airlines are among the worst in the world. So far the very best service I've enjoyed -- sitting in economy -- is on LAN Chile (they treat everyone as if they are in first class, except you don't get silver-flashed flatware, linen, glass water and wine glasses, and extra wide sleeper seats). You do, however, get all the wine and liquor you can consume, and they are happy to sedate you with alcohol if it's going to be a long flight. And currently (unlike US carriers) you get everything else and do not have to pay for extra baggage. Second best is Korea Airlines which still flies a fairly new fleet of 747s and offers the calmest and most beautifully appointed equipment that lumbers through the air. Both LAN and LAX fly out of LAX. LAN may fly out of Kennedy. Both have major discount programs to keep every seat of their equipment full. However, you'll soon realize that a center seat in the middle row of a 777 or 747 is a bit more spacious on British Airways than the same seat and same row on the same Delta equipment. British Airways is having some difficult economic times. They aren't as fabu as they were two years ago. You'll also become a connoisseur of why Airbus is giving Boeing a run for it's engineering money. An Airbus300 doesn't look much larger than a Boeing 737 (although, it's substantially larger) and the width of the plane means wider seats. It can also glide you in extra comfort from Kennedy to Lima, Peru, something 737s were not intended to do. However, somehow Boeing is making those chubby 373s fly much farther than they ever have before. I wouldn't be surprised the next generation of 737s make it from Kennedy to Dublin.

    Also remember that to keep your sky miles you usually must fly at least once a year, round trip, on the airline of the frequent flier club to keep your sky miles from turning back in to thin air.

    Sadly, primarily because of economics, air travel has sort of reached what I call a lumbering speed and the great days of getting from here to there takes longer and longer. High output jet engines burn up more fuel and at a faster rate. So, the days of climbing aboard a Boeing 727-200 and making it from Denver to San Francisco in 1.3 hours is a long fading memory. And those 727s are still revered by retired passenger pilots as the sports cars of commercial airlines.

    Remember that all new air equipment, regardless of manufacturer, is going to level off at a calibrated speed of a general 535 mph (or what ever that is in aeronautical knots). Airline equipment is better engineered for safety and efficiency, but back in the days when such considerations were figured with a slide rule, aeronautic engineers were no slouches. This is important if you've decided you'd rather be stuck on a large commercial jet for a 12-hour nonstop flight or prefer to break up your travel with several shorter flights. If you're old (like me) if may be a better deal for you to take "milk run" flights (flights of two or more to get to the same place) rather and suck it up and suffer through 12 hours of butt fatigue. Veinous thrombosis is a real problem for many people. More, but shorter, flights means you're forced to get up and move around; often changing planes in odd places in the middle of the night. there is another plus to this sort of travel: multiple flight itineraries are often cheaper. However, more than three changes in flight equipment to get from A to B is being taken advantage of. Also, I've lost count of the number of times I've had to change planes at Kennedy only to continue the exact same flight at Laguardia. Therefore, hold on to your ticket stub and be firm, but pleasant, when insisting for greyline ticket to the other airport and your airline refuses to arrange for ground transportation between two airports with the same flight number. One good thing to remember (while smiling and being nice) is to mention that this is something that will definitely be a highlight of the travel article writing. But don't use that excuse too much. I am a travel writer and have often been asked to produce legitimate credentials. But, if the connecting flight has the same flight number, by law it is the same flight. Again, be persistent (but nice). Delta and American are especially guilty of this. However, Delta is much more accommodating that American.

    Know your airports. Texas still has a problem of flying you from Austin to Houston Hobby (domestic flights) letting you figure out on your own that you need to get to Houston International to continue on that vacation flight to Cancun (the airports are 40 miles apart). So be aware there is a commuter flight between the airports and that you have a reserved seat to get you to one airport to the other. Better yet, find a flight that leaves and enters the USA in San Antonio if you're headed to Mexico/Central America.

    Never forget that, when checking in, the airline is keeping a record of you and that includes your behavior. Now you know why they have to do so much typing as they check you in, especially when flying to and from international airports. You'll soon notice that the same airline personnel who check you in and issued you luggage tickets is also the same flight personnel who will be serving you and tending to your precious little needs. I can't count how many times I've been bumped to 1st/business class at the last minute while standing in the tail section of a foreign carrier simply because I stayed out of everyone's way, commiserated and joked with the flight crew, and one time even offered to take another flight (knowing full well my baggage was already on board and they had to sit me somewhere). That's when that 1st class ticket magically appears. It also helps that you're not dressed in sweat pants and shirt that advertises that you're spending your grandchildren's inheritance.

    And if you absolutely HAVE to fly on United Airlines, you have my sympathy. The friendly skies of United quit being friendly September 22nd, 1985 at 7:24 PM Pacific Time. And they didn't even have the courtesy to send out a memo!

    ¡Bien viaje!
     
    #9 midlifebear, Mar 15, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  10. hud01

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    Absolutely not true. It is now more when you fly. Yes you may have to take the longer layover when you go overseas, but if you book early enough you can get a window or aisle

    Not on all airlines, although they do have different levels of economy which give you more options as to which flights you can take.

    Agreed

    Not on JetBlue or Cathay, so it is good to find out which airlines don't.

    Not at a major airport they aren't.
     
  11. flame boy

    flame boy Account Disabled

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    I know from past work that booking a flight too far in advance will result in a pricy ticket and booking it last minute will often cost a lot too. The "perfect spot" is about 3 months prior to travel, as this is when airfare should be at it's best price. As someone else said, midweek travel is another way to save a bit of cash. This is a general rule of thumb and obviously doesn't apply to everything (such as event travel like Thanksgiving or Christmas).

    Also, check your flights direct with the airline - sometimes (not always) they have a lowest price guarantee.
     
  12. midlifebear

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    Hud01:

    I'm not writing this just to argue. If I need to argue about airline tickets and service I'm sure you'll agree there are more than enough airline companies to dispatch that sort of information.

    I'm certain you've had different experiences in the air than I have. For example, I've never had the opportunity, or need, to fly from LA to New York on Jet Blue. And I've never flown on Cathay. But I do something many people do and that is regularly book 6 to 7 moths in advance for airline tickets. Actually, it really doesn't make that much, if any, of a difference. Standard seating is priced out over the year with built-in in-flation/de-flation because of the different holidays celebrated around the world.

    And it's very easy to see what selections are available in seat assignments before clicking "purchase." My experience has always been a middle seat, or if I am lucky there may be an aisle seat next to a window available. For me the aisle seat works best. After all, long haul fights tend to be depart at night. Not much to see in 9 to 12 hours at night. And even by purchasing a ticket early and often, about 75% of the time I get a "change in flight status" which usually means that the originally listed equipment was a 767 on which I always book the same seat and has now changed to a 757 -- or the other way around -- and that although my seat may still be F2, most likely it is no longer an aisle seat.

    However, once again to check that the cheapest prices on the web are not 99% of the time a middle aisle center seat (especially if you are traveling alone) log on to any airline web site and check the seat availability once you've found that "cheap" ticket.

    And I should add that all of my time spent on airplanes is on overseas flights. Therefore, Southwest Airlines is one of those companies I rarely, if ever, use because they don't fly where I need to go. And Mexicana does a better job of getting me to Mexico City than Air Alaska, although Air France is a Mexicana code share airline and also has one full flight that leaves Europe each day for Mexico.

    The last five flights I have taken from Barcelona to Kennedy have been on Delta, Iberia, and Air France, and they have all used the same airline personnel to check in passengers as well as care for us in flight. Every evening at EZIEZA airport (Buenos Aires) the same is true for Delta's flight 110 which leaves -- if your lucky -- at 9:30 PM and arrives in Atlanta somewhere around 7:30 AM. Same goes for American Airlines, LAN, TACA, Mexicana, etc. And if you've ever flown into and out of EXEIZA you'll know that is is an enormous International airport that serves all of South America and what is known as "the Austral World." If you are leaving a major hub (Heartsfeld in Atlanta) and flying Delta then it is most likely the check in personnel at a domestic airport of arrival such as SLC, LAX, Kennedy, or Theatle will be different folks. But more and more as airlines cut back to try and stay in the black, land and flight personnel share the same duties of getting the plane loaded and caring for passengers while in the air.

    My previous post as well as this one are based on two things: 1. I've been traveling since the dark ages when TWA's Lockheed Constellation four prop planes were the luxo boats of the skies and 2. one of my dearest and long time friends (who did not die of AIDS) is a recently retired airline exec and previous pilot who assures me that pricing airline tickets is truly a "black art." His words. Not mine. :smile:

    However, there is something I've been trying to prove to myself and that is Tuesday an Wednesday flights are the least expensive. I think that may have been true at one time. But I've yet to find any real difference in air fares.

    However, these days I'd happily exchange a cheap airline ticket for a frequent flier expressway for regular foreign passengers, such as myself, who are not traveling for pleasure. Having to stand in line for 45 to 60 minutes just to get through the first barrier of visa and border security gets old very quickly. I usually get detained in Spain or Argentina with just my carry on laptop, while the elderly woman in front of me is practically escorted through security with a hay stack load of luggage hermetically sealed in plastic shrink wrap. Yet I'm the one who gets thoroughly searched. That's one of those mysteries I doubt I'll ever figure out. :cool:
     
    #12 midlifebear, Mar 15, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  13. midlifebear

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    Hud01:

    I'm not writing this just to argue. If I need to argue about airline tickets and service I'm sure you'll agree there are more than enough airline companies to dispatch that sort of information.

    I'm certain you've had different experiences in the air than I have. For example, I've never had the opportunity, or need, to fly from LA to New York on Jet Blue. And I've never flown on Cathay. But I do something many people do and that is regularly book 6 to 7 moths in advance for airline tickets. Actually, it really doesn't make that much, if any, of a difference. Standard seating is priced out over the year with built-in in-flation/de-flation because of the different holidays celebrated around the world.

    And it's very easy to see what selections are available in seat assignments before clicking "purchase." My experience has always been a middle seat, or if I am lucky there may be an aisle seat next to a window available. For me the aisle seat works best. After all, long haul fights tend to be depart at night. Not much to see in 9 to 12 hours at night. And even by purchasing a ticket early and often, about 75% of the time I get a "change in flight status" which usually means that the originally listed equipment was a 767 on which I always book the same seat and has now changed to a 757 -- or the other way around -- and that although my seat may still be F2, most likely it is no longer an aisle seat.

    However, once again to check that the cheapest prices on the web are not 99% of the time a middle aisle center seat (especially if you are traveling alone) log on to any airline web site and check the seat availability once you've found that "cheap" ticket.

    And I should add that all of my time spent on airplanes is on overseas flights. Therefore, Southwest Airlines is one of those companies I rarely, if ever, use because they don't fly where I need to go. And Mexicana does a better job of getting me to Mexico City than Air Alaska, although Air France is a Mexicana code share airline and also has one full flight that leaves Europe each day for Mexico.

    The last five flights I have taken from Barcelona to Kennedy have been on Delta, Iberia, and Air France, and they have all used the same airline personnel to check in passengers as well as care for us in flight. Every evening at EXIEZA airport (Buenos Aires) the same is true for Delta's flight 110 which leaves -- if your lucky -- at 9:30 PM and arrives in Atlanta somewhere around 7:30 AM. Same goes for American Airlines, LAN, TACA, Mexicana, etc. And if you've ever flown into and out of EXIEZA you'll know that is is an enormous International airport that serves all of South America and what is known as "the Austral World." If you are leaving a major hub (Heartsfeld in Atlanta) and flying Delta then it is most likely the check in personnel at a domestic airport of arrival such as SLC, LAX, Kennedy, or Theatle will be different folks. But more and more as airlines cut back to try and stay in the black, land and flight personnel share the same duties of getting the plane loaded and caring for passengers while in the air.

    My previous post as well as this one are based on two things: 1. I've been traveling since the dark ages when TWA's Lockheed Constellation four prop planes were the luxo boats of the skies and 2. one of my dearest and long time friends (who did not die of AIDS) is a recently retired airline exec and previous pilot who assures me that pricing airline tickets is truly a "black art." His words. Not mine. :smile:

    However, there is something I've been trying to prove to myself and that is Tuesday and Wednesday flights are the least expensive. I think that may have been true at one time. But I've yet to find any real difference in air fares. There's a slight break, but why buy tickets that don't meet your travel needs.

    However, these days I'd happily exchange a cheap airline ticket for a frequent flier expressway for regular foreign passengers, such as myself, who are not traveling for pleasure. Having to stand in line for 45 to 60 minutes just to get through the first barrier of visa and border security gets old very quickly. I usually get detained in Spain or Argentina with just my carry on laptop, while the elderly woman in front of me is practically escorted through security with a hay stack load of luggage hermetically sealed in plastic shrink wrap. Yet I'm the one who gets thoroughly searched. That's one of those mysteries I doubt I'll ever figure out. :cool:
     
    #13 midlifebear, Mar 15, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  14. exwhyzee

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    I just watch orbitz. My last trip was cheaper through orbitz than my travel agent was able to work out. Dumb luck I suppose. Once you find a low fare on orbitz or such, see if you can match it on the airline's site, generally I find its better to book through them.
     
  15. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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  16. nudeyorker

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  17. Gillette

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    Absolutely brilliant.
     
  18. DavidXL

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    Bear - I am a big-time aviation buff. I am too young to have flown on a Constellation, but it is one of my all-time favorite aircraft, a very close second to the Pan Am Clippers from the '30s. I have a framed photo of one flying over lower Manhattan - you are lucky to have flow on one!

    To the OP, I like Travelocity and also check Southwest, which ain't always cheaper. A week ago Friday, I thought I was going to have to travel to LA on the immediate Monday from NY to LA. Southwest was going to be over $800 RT, but I found several options on Travelocity on AA, DL, etc., for $388 RT.
     
  19. vince

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    I fly a lot internationally. Four to ten times a year I am back and forth across the Atlantic or to Asia. Generally I just book the flight directly online. Travelocity and such are expensive I think. Kayak has a great app for the iPad though and I got a good deal to Miami last year using it. I usually stick with Star Alliance members airlines as their travel points are transferable and they and get you anywhere. Lufthansa, Air Canada, Turkish and Singapore Airlines are about all I need. I flew JetBlue a couple times JFK to Miami and it was great... Real cheap and clean and a comfortable seat. I don't waste my air miles on flights under four or five hours, as there is not much pain involved. Longer trips are business class only for me these days. The time lost recovering after a twenty to thirty hour trip with multiple airports is not worth the money saved by going economy. Especially if you have toi return after a few days.

    Last year I found great deals a SpanAir, which is a Spanish charter outfit. But the sweet spot for booking is about four days before the flight. They sell off the remaining seats dirt cheap online (Istanbul-Barcelona 75 euros return), but once the deal is offered, it's gone in hours. So you have to be a bit quick and flexible.
     
  20. midlifebear

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    Vince:

    That's the problem about flying from Barcelona to Paris, Madrid to London, Paris to Rome, Rome to Frankfurt, etc. There is always EasyJet (if you're brave), but they don't always have the cheapest flights. And the daily papers are full of adverts for 22€ tickets from BCN to Paris or Milano, but once you book the ticket you are charged a 78€ airport tax, 19€ IVA, and a host of other shit -- just as in that "Cheapflights" video (which was hysterical, by the way). The Spanish Government keeps promising us a fast rail train to Toulouse. But it has yet to happen. However, once you're in France it's so much easier to travel by train; especially since the rail stations tend to be in the central sector of all of the cities.

    And by all means, the trick using sky miles is to use them to bump yourself to business/first class or outright buy a round-trip ticket in business/first class on a long haul flight from Buenos Aires to Sydney or San Francisco to Singapore or some equally painful butt numbing flight. I quit back pack traveling long ago. And on those occasions I have flown from San Francisco or LA to Kennedy or LaGuardia there have been plenty of famous or semi famous sitting in economy and tourist with me enjoying the perqs of a $350 one-way flight or DavidXL's enviable $388 round-trip ticket.
     
    #20 midlifebear, Mar 16, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
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