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How To Compare Travel Air Fare

Updated on November 30, 2013
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Travel By Any Other Name

Budget travel, cheap travel, low-cost travel. It all comes down to saving money. With so many websites promising fare discounts or to beat the competition, how can one know which way to turn when purchasing such a costly item such as airline tickets? Here are some inside tips to making travel arrangements for the skies.

Consider Departure and Arrival Locations

Where you depart from and arrive to can make a difference. For example, in the Bay Area (the greater San Francisco area), there are two major airports. One flies out of San Francisco and the other out of Oakland. Very often the flights out of Oakland are not only cheaper, but the nightmare parking and driving scenario is completely absent at the Oakland Airport. However, it pays to shop because you can occassionally get a better rate out of San Francisco. There are satellite airports located about two hours from San Francisco. Sometimes, when you determine the gas cost involved, the bridge toll and parking fees, you'll discover you would save more money flying into or out of a smaller airport than by going to the nearest major city. So, look into the airport choices.

If you have a little extra time in your vacation, consider flying into a city near your destination. If it's not too much trouble, you may shave up to hundreds off the cost of your travel, simply by landing in a different city than the one you intend to visit and, then getting to that destination city by bus or shuttle, once you're on the ground.

The Days of the Week Matter

If you travel on a Friday, it's usually going to cost you more than it would if you traveled mid-week. If you book your tickets on a Monday, it's going to cost you more than if you booked your tickets on Wednesday morning. The best days for actual travel are arrivals and departures on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The best day for booking the actual travel is Wednesdays, just after Tuesday has ended - just after midnight.

Many of the websites have a little box that you can check which indicates that your travel dates are flexible. If you check this box, you'll be presented with options to travel on other days and/or times that are more budget-friendly.

How To Hunt For a Low Cost Flight - Buy A Ticket Somewhere Else! (See Video for Explanation)

Using Websites to Find a Deal

Here are a few websites that help you look for discount fares. A person could spend all day looking at these website results. I tend to look at three to five websites before making a decision. Here are some of the online biggies.

Farecompare.com - Searches British Airways, Super Search, SkyScanner, Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia and Fly.com

Skyscanner.com - Searches United, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, US Airways, and Virgin

Momondo.com - Searches Flights24.com, Tripsta.com, Smartfares.com, TravelPapa.com

Whichbudget.com - The airlines searches on this website are too many to list. They search almost every available airline, plus Vayama.com, BudgetAir.com, and Expedia.com.

Kayak.com - Searches Vayama.com, Airfare.com, Hotwire.com, Travelocity.com and Priceline.com

You can see that the websites cross over in their searches but not all websites are created equally. They all don't list the same airlines. Not one website I know of actually searches all possible options. This means it can pay to shop websites. As time consuming as that may be, it may be worth the hundreds in savings to you. Some serious bargain hunters will find the best rates online and then pick the phone up to call the airlines direct. Sometimes, you'll get yet a better discount in that manner.

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Getting Discounts

You can use a promotion code to get a discount. How do you find those? Search the net! Do you have a frequent flyer membership where you have accumulated points? Does your bank or credit union participate in a reward program for using that bank card that may result in a discounted ticket for you? What about your credit card company? Even your workplace may have an unknown benefit to you of travel discount. Look around and ask around. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Make Sure to Check on Baggage Fees

Another small detail is hidden but important and that's baggage fees. Baggage fees can cost you hundreds on some airlines and nothing on other airlines. The baggage fees vary from airline to airline but are based on size of baggage and weight and if you are traveling domestically or abroad. Even if you don't check in bags and just have a carry-on, you can be charged for the carry-on by some airlines. So, be aware because the savings you believe you may be getting in ticket cost may end up not being the discount you believed it to be when you add up what you would spend on baggage. The competition with the higher airfare ticket but the lack of baggage fees may be the less expensive alternative.

Things You Never Knew About Travel

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    • Li Galo profile image
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      Li Galo 4 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks sfin and KoraleeP! I always like more budget-friendly choices.

    • Li Galo profile image
      Author

      Li Galo 5 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Glad to help you, Ellandriel. Thanks for the share and added website, cfin. KoraleeP, I appreciate the Tweet. Happy travels all!

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 5 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      Thanks for tips! Momondo is a new one to me and it looks like its pretty good. I knew about the Tuesday and Thursday travel, but it didn't realize booking on a specific day of the week was better. Voted up, useful and Tweeted.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 5 years ago from The World we live in

      Check out Aer Lingus. Unbelievable savings. I am an avid saver when it comes to air lines. Great article. Shared and voted up.

    • Ellandriel profile image

      Ellandriel 5 years ago from Portugal

      Great tips! Will keep them in my browser favourites. As soon as the year begins I want to do some small trip ;D will come in handy!