Experience Plus!

Bicycle Tours Since 1972

Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Getting Good Airfares

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 travel-tips

Getting Good Airfares

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.

airfares to Europe Cheap airfare often means that you cannot change your mind or your flight and you pay 100% penalty in the event you have to cancel. As certain as you may be about going on your tour, accidents happen, companions fall ill or aging parents require you to cancel. 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 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:

  • watching for tricky language about penalties;

     

  • 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. Call your travel agent OR search online for "airfare consolidators.")

     

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

For example: I just searched Orbitz.com for a Denver to Bologna round trip flight in June. The airlines are holding back on reduced fares that far into the future so the cost is $1200+. The same flight in April is $560! Yet come February, that flight will likely be reduced as airlines try to sell unsold seats. I found fares to Seville in May at $693 round trip and to Palermo in April for $907 on Orbitz, while Cheaptickets.com was $986 to Palermo and OneTravel.com was $936).

Buy your ticket now, at the higher fare, through a travel agent and your agent may be able to monitor fares and get you the reduced price if and when it becomes available. (You may be able to do this also, but read the fine print first!)

When trying online look at both your favorite airline and at the online travel outlets like Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com but try also some of the lesser known sites such as CheapTickets.com and OneTravel.com. A good travel agent will have even more suggestions.

Need a Good Travel Agent?

We’ve been working for years 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 of our customers going on our tours, 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 a lot of time and headaches!

Here is a simple three-step approach to finding the lowest airfare this fall and winter:

 Check fares online: Search for low fares at both the big travel sites (e.g., Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com) as well as the sites for individual airlines (e.g., BritishAirways.com, United.com, Delta.com). The key to finding deals online is to shop around and to try different routes and departure dates. Depending on ticket availability, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars by flying into Brussels instead of Paris, for instance. Or by flying on a Wednesday rather than Thursday.

  1.  Check fares online: Search for low fares at both the big travel sites (e.g., Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com) as well as the sites for individual airlines (e.g., BritishAirways.com, United.com, Delta.com). The key to finding deals online is to shop around and to try different routes and departure dates. Depending on ticket availability, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars by flying into Brussels instead of Paris, for instance. Or by flying on a Wednesday rather than Thursday.

  2. Call the airlines directly: Often, airlines don’t list their lowest fares online. Or, by the time those fares are listed online, all the tickets are gone. This is one case where letting your fingers do the walking the old-fashioned way can save you money. Again, be flexible.

     

  3. Ask about consolidator fares OR contact the consolidators directly.

     

For more tips on finding the best airfare deals, contact us by e-mail at tours@ExperiencePlus.com or call our sales staff at 800-685-4565.

 

Airtravel Suggestions from the Fort Collins Staff

 

  • Qixo: charges $20 to book a ticket – Monica

     

  • Mobissimo: I particularly liked Mobissimo – lists the cheap fares and then if you click on a fare, it sends you to that website, either airline, or another search engine or a consolidator. (It also uses non-US consolidators, etc) – Monica

     

  • Cheapflights: owned by Expedia – Monica

     

  • Farechase: recently bought by Yahoo, I like Farechase because after it gives you the results, it allows you to groom the results by airline, price, airport, times, all the while showing you the prices for a particular feature. They also tell you exactly what websites they have searched. – Monica

     

  • Kayak: I liked Kayak because they told me what they were searching while they were doing it – Monica

     

  • Onetravel: I’ve had good luck with OneTravel.com, and have recommended it in the past. – Rich

     

  • Sidestep: not recommended because Sidestep forces you to download something to your computer – a security no-no – Rich

     

  • When booking cheap flights with European discount airlines such as RyanAir, be aware they have significant luggage restrictions – Maria Elena.

     

 

– Rick Price