How to Get the Lowest Air Fares Anywhere in the World
Have you ever tried to book your own flights, without the assistance of a travel agent? I was asked to do just that for my first job decades ago. I tried to haggle for good rates and arrangements. Eventually though, we ended up consulting a travel agent friend, and booking all the trips with her. No, the problem was not in my coordination skills but in the rates that airlines and hotels gave me vs the travel agent.
These days, life is a much easier for the travel coordinator, mainly because of online travel sites. One simply has to go to the internet travel sites, search, compare and book the trips directly.
For any one who directly books flights online anywhere in the world, these few basic tips, reminders and suggestions may help you get the best possible flight deals.
1. Roundtrip tickets will cost less than two-,or several, one way tickets, much like a set is less costly than the same items bought individually.
2. Flights with connections are much less expensive than those with non-stop flights, mainly because of the convenience in time and transfers.
3. Book early, at least a month ahead. In general, the earlier you book the flight, the lower the price will be. This is the airline's incentive so it can plan its flight needs (e.g. food) in advance. As much as possible, do not book later than a week before the flight when most business people who can afford higher rates decide to book their trips.
4. Some travel disrtibutors specialize in last-minute deals. These distributors not only produce huge volumes of business for the airllines; but they also provide the client with direct access to the airlines' servers. Thus, when clients decide to cancel their reservations a week or less before the flight, these re-available seats are immediately listed on their websites. GTTrends, for instance, is quite reliable for last-minute deals, even better than Travelocity and Expedia in most instances.
5. So in case you have booked a flight, and later find that rates were lowered before the actual flight, contact the airline and present the situation. Some airlines offer a refund on the difference in these prices, or a discount on your next travel.
6. Try to book your flights later in the week (surely not on a Monday) and before or after the 9am to 5pm flights that the business people take.
7. Flights reserved after the peak seasons (e.g. Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving) are more likely less expensive than when you book before the peak seasons.
9. Take advantage of the discounts provided by some (not all) airlines for children (up to 11 years old), senior citizens (65 years and above), military personnel, students, teachers, and other special groups.
10. Book online.
Store front or Online Booking
With their own cost-saving measures, and downsizing, airlines have seen the benefit of relying on travel agents, distributors and consolidators, then and now, to promote their flights. Since all airlines tap the travel agents, they are in effect competing for the agents' recommendations to their clients. Thus travel agents are able to access the lowest available rates which they in turn can offer to their clients. This is true both for storefront and online travel agents.
Book your flights from online travel distributors. It's less expensive because there are less manhours (secretaries and messengers, managers, accountants) and physical resources (office rental and utility costs, transportation, communication) involved in online transactions. Though of course, you will need to learn some of the nuances of the trade.
Often too, when you visit the online travel search sites, you will get many more options than a storefront travel agent will provide you. It surely is more comforting to be able to check out all options in a few minutes than waiting for our travel agent to quote one flight. For coordinators, it means more control of choices.
Make sure though that these online travel distributors will allow you to actually contact them when you need to. Take note of the contact information -- email, phone numbers, fax number, and an office address.
Consider becoming your own Travel Agent
More and more travelers are now booking their own trips onlne. Fact is, 70% of all travel (flights, hotels, cars, cruises, travel packages) worlwide is booked online. This is a result of the convenience provided by the world wide web, and the accessibility of more people to computers, which has also placed more control in the hands of consumers/travelers.
Shopping, communication, banking, education, and many more are now done online. What had taken years to learn now can be easily accessed in seconds and learned in hours or a few days.
No wonder, there are so many travel agents now than ever before. And many of them have simply downloaded their lessons and studied at their own pace in their on homes.
Besides, more and more travelers are starting to realize that they can avail of better deals if they learn more about the travel industry, and be accredited as travel agents for their trips as well as those for their family and friends. Many of the perks of travel agents are just too tempting to pass off, such as:
- Hotel Rooms - Typically 50% to 75% of normal rates, upon availability, or upgrades to luxurious suites.
- Car Rentals - 15% to 30% discounts, as low as $25 per day.
- Cruises - As low as $50 per day. Take advantage of select travel agent savings at up to 70% discounts.
- FAMiliarization Trips - Enjoy these incredible trips to exotic destinations hosted (and subsidized) by tour operators, government tourist boards and private resorts at a fraction of the normal cost.(Typically 50-90% discount)
- Entry to Theme Parks - Unbelievable discounts and sometimes FREE admission to theme parks, shows and special attractions.
- Airfares - Lowest possible rates at time of reservation.