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10 Tips: Save on your airfare by using the Internet

Are you planning a flight? If so, the first stop on your destination may very well be your computer. If you've fallen into the habit of checking the same two or three Web sites before you fly, these tips can help you freshen up your search techniques:

By Laura T. Coffey, Times Correspondent
Published September 9, 2007


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Are you planning a flight? If so, the first stop on your destination may very well be your computer. If you've fallen into the habit of checking the same two or three Web sites before you fly, these tips can help you freshen up your search techniques:

1 Start by knowing when to look. It's wise to check for online airfare deals at different times of the day and week, but be aware that you can find especially good deals on Saturday mornings. That's because many airlines begin posting their latest bargains and fare sales on Friday nights.

2 Try something different. You can visit ITA Software (www.itasoftware.com and use its QPX travel search engine, which powers other search engines. You'll have to create an account to log in, but once you do, this site can turn you on to good bargains. You can't book the flights you find online, though. The site helps you e-mail a travel agent, or you can contact the airline or a full-fledged travel site to book the same deal.

3 Expand your search-engine searches. By visiting the search engines Kayak (www.kayak.com), Mobissimo (www.mobissimo.com) and SideStep (www.sidestep.com), you can let these sites do the work of searching the big travel sites - Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity - for you. Like ITA Software, these search engines don't let you buy tickets. Instead, they direct you to one of the travel sites or to an airline's site.

4 Go to the source. No matter which search engine you use - including the biggies, Orbitz (www.orbitz.com), Expedia (www.expedia.com) and Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) -visit the airline's Web site when you find a deal. You can reserve a seat on the same flight, minus the extra fees and surcharges.

5 Remember discount carriers. It often pays to visit the Web sites of low-fare and new airlines, such as Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com), JetBlue Airways (www.jetblue.com) and Skybus Airlines (www.skybus.com). Airfarewatchdog (www.airfarewatchdog.com) includes several discount and obscure airlines in its listings.

6 Foretell the future. You can get an idea of whether flights that interest you might drop in price in future weeks by visiting Farecast.com. The site Yapta (www.yapta.com) tracks fares and lets you know when they go down, even after you've bought your ticket, and it alerts you to postsale refunds issued by airlines.

7 Check fares from smaller airports. You can save by searching for flights to and from alternate airports within 50 miles or so of the main hub airport near your destination. Some sites listed in this column allow you to search for alternate airports in addition to main airports.

8 Be flexible. The best deals may be limited to travel on certain days (such as Tuesdays through Thursdays) or at particular times. Several of the sites referenced above allow you to reveal how flexible your travel plans are.

9 Fly on holidays. Discount seats usually aren't available during holiday periods, but you may be able to get a discounted fare if you fly on the holiday itself.

10 Don't forget to peruse the Sunday paper. Booking flights online may be all the rage, but you should examine those small airfare ads that run inside the Travel section.

Laura T. Coffey (laura@tentips.org)

Sources: CNNMoney.com; MSN Money (http://moneycentral.msn.com); Frommer's (www.frommers.com)

[Last modified September 10, 2007, 13:55:41]


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