With a little preparation and some flexibility, you can reach your favorite destinations without breaking the bank. If you don't know anybody who works in the airline industry that can give you a hook-up, follow the advice below.
· Keep yourself updated on airfare wars by watching the news and reading the newspaper. Look for limited-time promotional fares from major airlines and airline companies just starting up.
· Be flexible in scheduling your flight. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are typically the cheapest days to fly; late-night flights, very early morning flights and flights with at least one stop tend to be discounted as well.
· Ask the airline if it offers travel packages to save money in other areas. For instance, is a rental car or hotel room available at a discount along with the airline ticket?
· Find out whether the stated fare is the cheapest, and inquire about other options when speaking to the airline reservations clerk. If you're using the Internet, check more than one Web site and compare rates.
· Inquire about standby fares if you're flying off-season. High season is a bad time to fly standby because most airlines overbook flights, making it difficult to find a spare seat.
· Purchase tickets through consolidators, who buy blocks of tickets and sell them at a discount to help an airline fill up all available seats. Check the travel section of the newspaper under 'Ticket Consolidators.
· Book early. You can purchase advance-ticket discounts by reserving 21 days ahead; book even earlier for holiday flights, especially in November and December. Keep in mind that holiday 'blackout periods' may prevent you from using frequent-flier miles.
· Stay with the same airline during your entire trip to receive round-trip or connecting fare discounts.