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Travel 2006    

Air travel

 

Some 658 million passengers took more than 10.5 million domestic flights in the past year.

13 ways to save on airline travel

As soaring energy prices force airline ticket prices ever higher, it's getting more difficult to get a great deal. But that doesn't mean you should stop trying.

Save on airline travel
Here are a baker's dozen tips on how to get a lower price for your next trip.
1. Buy online. 8. Invite price alerts.
2. Avoid the middleman. 9. Difference a day makes.
3. Bend a little. 10. Wake-up call.
4. Skip the big lines. 11. Shop early.
5. Sale not always best. 12. Members only.
6. Get a second opinion. 13. Rewarding experience.
7. Fees can be taxing.    

1. Buy online.
Purchase tickets on the airline's Web site. Many airlines will slash as much as 10 percent off ticket prices to customers who purchase them online.

2. Avoid the middleman.
Comparison shop online to find the best fare, and then visit the airline's Web site directly. You'll save the booking fee charged by the online agency.

3. Bend a little.
Be flexible when planning your trip. Folks with flexible travel dates and destinations tend to scoop up the best bargains. They're willing to fly any carrier at any time from any airport in their area.

4. Skip the big lines.
Fly on smaller airlines. It often means lower fares -- and you're not compromising on safety or comfort.

5. Sale not always best.
The sale price on an airline ticket is not always the lowest price available. You may be able to find a lower price on a nonsale ticket from another airline. Be sure to check.

6. Get a second opinion.
To get the best deal possible, check prices on flights from two or more airports in your area. The savings may surprise you and be well worth the little extra driving time.

7. Fees can be taxing.
Whatever ticket price you're quoted, make sure it includes taxes and fees. They can bump up a ticket price by $100 or more. Some ads for low fares don't include taxes and fees. Make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges.

8. Invite price alerts.
Keep track of last-minute sales by signing up for e-mail alerts from airlines with major hubs in your area.

9. Difference a day makes.
Cut airfare costs by traveling on off-peak days such as Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

10. Wake-up call.
Traveling at off-hours may save you money. The less-filled 6 a.m. flight can be a bargain.

11. Shop early.
Buy your tickets in advance.

12. Members only.
Join the frequent-flier program of each airline that you fly to earn free tickets.

13. Rewarding experience.
Use an airline-reward credit card to make monthly purchases and pay that balance off every month. You'll accrue air miles faster. Cash them in for ticket upgrades and free travel.

What are your summer travel plans? Take our reader poll and see what other Americans will be doing this summer.

-- Updated May 15, 2006
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