Essential Air Fare Tips
Because of the emphasis on price competition, consumers may choose from a wide
variety of air fares. Some airlines are trying a "back to basics"
approach-offering flights at bargain basement prices with few extras.
For fare information, you can contact a travel agent, another ticket outlet or
an airline serving the places you want to visit. Ask them to tell you the names
of all airlines flying there. A travel agent can find virtually all airlines'
fares in his or her computer. Or, if you prefer, you can call each airline to
ask about the fares they charge, particularly any special promotional fares they
may be offering at the time. You can also pay attention to newspaper and radio
ads, where airlines advertise many of the discount plans that apply to your
city. Finally, be alert to new companies.
Here are some tips to help you decide among air fares:
* Be flexible in your travel plans in order to get the lowest fare. The best
deals may be limited to travel on certain days of the week or particular
hours of the day. After you get a fare quote, ask the reservations agent if
you could save even more by leaving a day earlier or later, or by taking a
different flight on the same day.
* Plan as far ahead as you can. Some airlines set aside only a few seats on
each flight at the lower rates. The real bargains often sell out very
quickly. On the other hand, air carriers sometimes make more discount seats
available later. If you decided against a trip because the discount fare you
wanted was not available on the desired date, try again, especially just
before the advance-purchase deadline.
* Some airlines may have discounts that others don't offer. In a large
metropolitan area, the fare could depend on which airport you use. Also, a
connection (change of planes) or a one-stop flight is sometimes cheaper than
* Does the air fare include types of service that airlines have traditionally
provided, such as meals or free baggage handling? If you have a connection
involving two airlines, will your bags be transferred? Can you get advance
seat assignments? If you are stranded, will the ticket be good on another
carrier at no extra charge? Will the first airline pay for meals or hotel
rooms during the wait?
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