- Use the internet AND a travel agent. Compare prices, you will be surprised sometimes at what the agents know that your computer is not telling you. For an international flight, check discounters and consolidators (lists can usually be found in Sunday's newspapers).
- Do not rely solely on one web site. Competitors rely on different fare sources and fares are not updated at the same time. Certain of your schedule? Accept penalty airfares. Many times a non-refundable tickets may be changed at a penalty.
- Flexibility is a key. Be flexible with travel dates & times. Flying a weekday or even a few hours earlier or later may save you considerable money and get you the best bargains. The cheapest fare is the 21 day advance purchase, which also requires a Saturday night stay, and sometimes travel on Tuesday or Wednesday. These are just some of the many reasons to have a savvy travel agent who is working for you and not just collecting a pay check! Always book travel In advance- Saturday night stay & 7 or 21 day advance purchase.
- Flexible Dates: During recent pricing for a trip, the same package, two sets of dates, two days apart on two different airlines offered a difference of $350 per couple between one airline and another.
- Flexible Airlines: same dates and two different airlines: a difference of $510 per couple.
- Flexible Airport of Departure: Even consider departing from an alternate airport. Pricing may be different say between Newark and LaGuardia depending on what fares are available. What may be sold out at one airport, may not be sold out at another.
- Watch for fare sales. Sign up for e-mail notification with airlines that you frequently use.
- Fares can rise and fall quickly so if you are sure you are getting a good deal, book it and pay for it then. Shop for fares just after midnight when the previous day's holds have expired.
- Students, senior citizens and children often qualify for special fares— check with the airline before booking.
- Also use the phone. If the fare sounds high or the reservation is not as helpful as you would like, hang up and call back. If you know there is a specific fare and the agent cannot find it, ask to speak to a supervisor.
Cancellations & Delays
- Always try to book the earliest flight in the day. You will have better stand-by status on succeeding flights. If you have to be somewhere extremely important build some slack time into your schedule. You do not want to miss a business meeting, a wedding or say a cruise ship departure. If you must fly during winter on connecting flights, choose warmer weather hubs where there is less chance of winter weather delays.
- Can you fly into an alternate destination? In cases of bad weather, overbooked flights or air traffic- a simple diversion from say Baltimore instead of Washington or LaGuardia instead of JFK may solve your dilemma.
- In winter, travel earlier in the day, so that if there are weather related delays, you may still be able to get out later on the same day.
- Be aware of rule 240 (many airlines know it as rule 120.20). For any flight problems, with the exception of weather, request the invocation of the rule. It is the carrier's responsibility to get you to your destination. Each carrier has different wording in their fine print so learn it for your specific airline. In the event of any flight irregularity of any kind (with the exception of weather), invoking the rule means the ticketed airline takes your ticket, endorses it over to the NEXT available flight, not THEIR next available flight.
- For arrival and departure times always ask the status of the flight. Not scheduled times, but what time did the flight leave the ground? To judge connecting flights, what time did the aircraft land in it's previous destination? If it has not arrived there yet, it is going to definitely be late getting to your destination.
- Customer Service Agents are there to help you. Remember, "you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar." If there are problems with your flight, they are there to help you and the problem is not their fault if the flight is delayed or canceled. They are there to aid you in getting your where you want to go.
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