Your mission: To
travel the world without breaking the bank. To get the best fare, you must be
hardworking and flexible about your travel dates. You can, however, also get a
decent air fare if you're lazy and inflexible. Both lazy and industrious methods
will net you a cheap, comfortable, trustworthy fare. And your efforts, great or
small, will all be directed at a simple goal: a confirmed seat in which you'll
be treated with the same indulgent demeanor the service staff provides less savvy
Call a discount travel agency. Sometimes
referred to as "consolidators" or "bucket shops," they operate by buying tickets
in bulk from airlines and reselling them at a discount. You can easily get 50
percent off an international fare on a reputable airline by booking with a consolidator,
but domestic ticket prices tend to be similar to airline sale fares. If you're
traveling at the last minute, consolidators may be your best bet at getting a
low fare. Be forewarned, however -- as a rule, all major changes to discount tickets
will trigger additional fees.
If you're a hard-working,
inexhaustible sort, you may spend much less. Try the following tips:
- Call the airlines directly and check current prices.
an eye on sale fares and special discounts by checking the Independent
Traveler's Bargain Box.
- Staying over a Saturday night
will almost always get you a better rate.
- Clip coupons. Really.
the Web sites of major airlines and sign up for sales exclusively offered through
Be your own travel agent
To see the same information that a regular travel agent can
access, fire up your browser and check out these two Web sites: Travelocity.com
You can generate lists of all flights and their nondiscounted fares to your destination.
You should always confirm your reservation with a phone call to the airline.
a smart shopper
Look up discount travel agencies
and consolidators in your local alternative weekly newspaper or Sunday daily.
Call them all; fares vary widely from agency to agency. Call a consolidator and
compare its fares with your local discount agencies.
Investigate the rates of discount airlines
as well. Some discount airlines are unreliable, which can lead to frightening
and chaotic waits and a not-so-fond memory of your trip on CattleAir.
Students are eligible for substantial discounts
Travel which have offices in many major cities. StudentUniverse.com
also offers excellent deals to faculty members. Student fares are sometimes more
expensive than the consolidator fares, so research carefully.
Flying as an onboard courier can score
you dirt cheap fares of $100 to $700 to South America, Central America and the
Far East. Fares to Europe are comparable to consolidator fares and are usually
not worth the complete lack of flexibility that accompanies being a courier, except
in the summer when fares to Europe typically skyrocket. When flying as a courier,
your itinerary is all but written in stone. Because you must meet the courier
representative at both departure and arrival, you cannot alter your flight by
so much as an hour. Your allotted baggage space is used for express packages so
you are only allowed carry-on bags, but often the airline lets you check your
bags anyway. Fortunately, the sender, not you, is accountable for the contents
of the packages.
are other agencies as well, and you can get a list of them by joining the Air
Courier Association (800) 280-5973 or visiting their Web
flyer mile enthusiasts take note; not all discount fares accumulate miles. Always
inquire with both the travel agency and with the airline before you book. If you
are an avid mileage junkie, you can almost always find a program that accepts
your flight for miles by researching the many airline partner agreements. Most
airlines have extensive Web sites, 800-numbers or both that detail their involvements
in frequent flier arrangements.