ExperiencePlus! - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Travel Tips

How To Find Good Airfare

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Finding the Best  Airfares for your Bicycle Tours

The great news for travelers is that airfares to Europe are expected to continue their decline into spring so we thought it was the perfect time to review what we know about shopping for the good airfare.

Note that we said “good” airfare, not “cheap” airfare. There’s a difference and you should make note of that difference as it may save you money and grief in the long run. Cheap airfare often means that if you change your mind or your flight you’ll pay 100% penalty in the event you have to cancel. As certain as you may be about going on your vacation, accidents happen, companions fall ill or aging parents require you to change your plans. So be very careful about purchasing the cheapest airfare. Good airfare is inexpensive or “fairly” priced airfare that allows you flexibility in changing flight dates if necessary and even canceling with minimal penalites if required. This is often worth the extra money!

Here’s where to look for good airfare: Online, online and online. Note however, that as smart as you may be and as adept as you are at shopping online, there may still be a reason to pay your travel agent to do this for you! For the modest fee of $25 – $50 per person your agent knows exactly where to look and she or he know the tricks of the trade.

Those tricks include:

  • Language and frequent policy changes about penalties; luggage restrictions; fuel surcharges;
  • Trying alternative airports (Bologna instead of Milan, Toulouse rather than Paris; Seville instead of Madrid; and Nice rather than Marseille, just to cite a few examples);
  • Which consolidators to trust (“consolidators” are companies that buy large blocks of discounted tickets from the airlines and pass the savings along to you. Traditionally, consolidators have worked only through travel agencies, but with the advent of the internet some have begun working directly with consumers or online travel portals;
  • Increased competition online is leading to better deals. But you have to monitor them and you have to know what the airlines are thinking!

Finding the right website for your airfare searches:
FareCompare.com is our new favorite search engine. They do it all and present the information in clear way on their user friendly website. For example, as you select your travel dates their calendar shows you price averages for each day; they’ll alert you to “invisible” fare sales; provide statistics on when to buy; and compare prices at nearby airports.

Kayak.com searches a wide variety of other search engines for the least expensive and convenient itineraries, and they allow you to set alerts based on price or travel dates. They also have a very nice and easy to use feature that allows you to try out different itineraries, for example is it less expensive to fly in and out of Pisa, or into Pisa and out of Rome or Florence.
Orbitz.com has a relatively new price guarantee if you book through them and someone else books the same itinerary for less, you’ll get a cash refund of up to $250 per traveler.

Farechase by Yahoo: One nice feature is that after it gives you the results, it allows you to groom the results by airline, price, airport, times, all the while showing you how the price will be affected. They also tell you exactly what websites they have searched.

FlyLowCostAirlines.org: Specializes in budget European Airlines.

What about airfare sales that I never hear about?

With the advent of the web it’s rare to see full page ads in newspapers declaring fare sales; instead airlines used targeted emails to people who have registered through their websites to announce fare sales. Now you can signup for low-fare alerts at FareCompare.com and Kayak.com.

When should I purchase my ticket and what are the best days of the week to fly on?
FareCompare.com also has a “Best Time to Buy” feature which gives you fare rates based on past statistics. Nice because the calendar displays each fare for each day so you’ll see if you can fly on Wednesday that you are likely to save $50 to $100 depending on the route.

What’s the trick to redeeming frequent flier miles?

There are rumors that if you call the airline 340 days prior to your departure you will be able to redeem your frequent flier mileage. According to customers and our own experience this works occasionally; sometimes you have to call every day; and every once in a while you get lucky and an airline representative will spend time, and be creative to help you.

Though we don’t have the magic answer we have found that being creative on your destinations helps. Check into flying into a large gateway cities such as London or Frankfurt and then look at European carriers to get you to your final destination. The good news is that Budget European carriers sometimes offer great fares to smaller airports in Europe so instead of flying into Rome, 4 hours from your final destination, you can fly into Bologna, 45 minutes away. But beware such fares occasionally have high taxes, airport, luggage and airline fees so your initial fare of $15 may ultimately skyrocket to $185.00. These airlines generally have stringent weight limits for luggage so be sure to check the details. You’ll also want to arrive at the airport early so you don’t have to pay for priority boarding. So before you take the leap for no frills make sure the bargain includes a seat and seatbelt!

To get an overview of what budget European carriers fly between European cities, check out www.flylowcostairlines.org. You can enter the two countries you are flying between or you can enter the city / airport. To purchase the ticket, you are redirected to the carrier.

Whew – Perhaps You Just Need a Good Travel Agent.
We work with Jane Folsom at Destinations By Design here in Fort Collins. She knows the needs of our customers and because she is likely helping other customers going on your tour, she may have just re
Finding the Best  Airfares for your Bicycle Tours

The great news for travelers is that airfares to Europe are expected to continue their decline into spring so we thought it was the perfect time to review what we know about shopping for the good airfare.

Note that we said “good” airfare, not “cheap” airfare. There’s a difference and you should make note of that difference as it may save you money and grief in the long run. Cheap airfare often means that if you change your mind or your flight you’ll pay 100% penalty in the event you have to cancel. As certain as you may be about going on your vacation, accidents happen, companions fall ill or aging parents require you to change your plans. So be very careful about purchasing the cheapest airfare. Good airfare is inexpensive or “fairly” priced airfare that allows you flexibility in changing flight dates if necessary and even canceling with minimal penalites if required. This is often worth the extra money!

Here’s where to look for good airfare: Online, online and online. Note however, that as smart as you may be and as adept as you are at shopping online, there may still be a reason to pay your travel agent to do this for you! For the modest fee of $25 – $50 per person your agent knows exactly where to look and she or he know the tricks of the trade.

Those tricks include:

* Language and frequent policy changes about penalties; luggage restrictions; fuel surcharges;

* Trying alternative airports (Bologna instead of Milan, Toulouse rather than Paris; Seville instead of Madrid; and Nice rather than Marseille, just to cite a few examples);

* Which consolidators to trust (“consolidators” are companies that buy large blocks of discounted tickets from the airlines and pass the savings along to you. Traditionally, consolidators have worked only through travel agencies, but with the advent of the internet some have begun working directly with consumers or online travel portals;

* Increased competition online is leading to better deals. But you have to monitor them and you have to know what the airlines are thinking!

Finding the right website for your airfare searches:
FareCompare.com is our new favorite search engine. They do it all and present the information in clear way on their user friendly website. For example, as you select your travel dates their calendar shows you price averages for each day; they’ll alert you to “invisible” fare sales; provide statistics on when to buy; and compare prices at nearby airports.

Kayak.com searches a wide variety of other search engines for the least expensive and convenient itineraries, and they allow you to set alerts based on price or travel dates. They also have a very nice and easy to use feature that allows you to try out different itineraries, for example is it less expensive to fly in and out of Pisa, or into Pisa and out of Rome or Florence.
Orbitz.com has a relatively new price guarantee if you book through them and someone else books the same itinerary for less, you’ll get a cash refund of up to $250 per traveler.

Farechase by Yahoo: One nice feature is that after it gives you the results, it allows you to groom the results by airline, price, airport, times, all the while showing you how the price will be affected. They also tell you exactly what websites they have searched.

FlyLowCostAirlines.org: Specializes in budget European Airlines.

What about airfare sales that I never hear about?

With the advent of the web it’s rare to see full page ads in newspapers declaring fare sales; instead airlines used targeted emails to people who have registered through their websites to announce fare sales. Now you can signup for low-fare alerts at FareCompare.com and Kayak.com.

When should I purchase my ticket and what are the best days of the week to fly on?
FareCompare.com also has a “Best Time to Buy” feature which gives you fare rates based on past statistics. Nice because the calendar displays each fare for each day so you’ll see if you can fly on Wednesday that you are likely to save $50 to $100 depending on the route.

What’s the trick to redeeming frequent flier miles?

There are rumors that if you call the airline 340 days prior to your departure you will be able to redeem your frequent flier mileage. According to customers and our own experience this works occasionally; sometimes you have to call every day; and every once in a while you get lucky and an airline representative will spend time, and be creative to help you.

Though we don’t have the magic answer we have found that being creative on your destinations helps. Check into flying into a large gateway cities such as London or Frankfurt and then look at European carriers to get you to your final destination. The good news is that Budget European carriers sometimes offer great fares to smaller airports in Europe so instead of flying into Rome, 4 hours from your final destination, you can fly into Bologna, 45 minutes away. But beware such fares occasionally have high taxes, airport, luggage and airline fees so your initial fare of $15 may ultimately skyrocket to $185.00. These airlines generally have stringent weight limits for luggage so be sure to check the details. You’ll also want to arrive at the airport early so you don’t have to pay for priority boarding. So before you take the leap for no frills make sure the bargain includes a seat and seatbelt!

To get an overview of what budget European carriers fly between European cities, check out www.flylowcostairlines.org. You can enter the two countries you are flying between or you can enter the city / airport. To purchase the ticket, you are redirected to the carrier.

Whew – Perhaps You Just Need a Good Travel Agent.
We work with Jane Folsom at Destinations By Design here in Fort Collins. She knows the needs of our customers and because she is likely helping other customers going on your tour, she may have just researched the fare you seek. Give her a call at (800) 553-6133 or drop her a line at Jane@dbd-travel.com. Jane will charge you a small fee for her services but you’ll save yourself time and headaches!

Good luck and if you have any tips, or magic answers to share please let us know!

searched the fare you seek. Give her a call at (800) 553-6133 or drop her a line at Jane@dbd-travel.com. Jane will charge you a small fee for her services but you’ll save yourself time and headaches!

Good luck and if you have any tips, or magic answers to share please let us know!

.