Going there by airplane

Before you travel by airplane, you need to purchase the air ticket. With the advances in internet, you can buy the ticket online — you no longer have to go to a travel agent. But this does not mean you should not shop around to find the best fare. If you care for the price of your ticket, understand two types of travelers get the best fare:

  • those travelers who make firm plans early (meaning they buy the ticket in advance), and
  • these travelers who are very flexible

Having firm plans

What is the rationale behind discounts for those who plan early for their air travel? With travelers paying in advance for their tickets, airlines have seats confirmed and pair for. Consequently, this entitles the traveler to be eligible for special discounted air fare. Paying months or weeks in advance is not smart if there no incentive for doing so. How many times does a shopper pay for a computer or TV set and wait for its delivery for months? The shopper wants the goods immediately after purchase or want some incentive to wait.

In the air travel world, when the purchase is made months before the departure date, the airline has a confirmed seat. To encourage this, more early bookings will mean airline has more seats filled. Regardless of the size of the airline, it would want to have all of the available seats filled prior to the flight date. The airlines understand rightly that empty seats means lost revenues. To encourage early filling, airlines offer discounts when the fair is purchased in advance.

Saving on fair when the traveler is flexible

For those travelers who don’t book in advance, they still can save. The catch is they have to be flexible, very flexible to be more precise. For those who are ready to go at the last minute, they can take advantage of airline’s short-notice discounts.

As mentioned earlier, the airline wants to have the all seats filled as early as possible but in reality this does not always happen. So instead of taking a loss on empty seats, the airlines attempts to fill those empty seats by offering special deals. These deals are not much advertised say in newspapers or other major media outlets because such discounted fares are not fair to those who have paid full in advance.

So the question is how do you learn of these specials if they are not advertised? Signing- up for email alerts with airlines is good way to find short-notice discounts. When the airline sees it has some empty seats to a destination, it will email the people signed- up for short-notice discounts. People who have less preference of the destination and fly dates, they can get decent deals with such short-notice discounts. So if a traveler wants to vacation in Europe, and he is emailed of a discount to fly to London, he can consider this discount. Be sure not to make the vacation more expensive by savings a few hundred on air fare and overspending on food and lodge because of the destination you chose to travel to. Food and lodge prices vary by location.

Essential tips to save on air fare

Even if you do or don’t get the best fair because of the two techniques described above, you can still save by using these tips:

  • Ask for any additional or applicable discounts. If booking online, check multiple websites. Checking on just one website won’t always give you the best price.
  • See if you can fly on different day or time
  • Know traveling from or to adjacent airports usually lowers your fair.
  • Consider stand by fares to your route, if this is flexible trip
  • Check airline or newspaper ads for any promotional fares
  • Check with different airlines to find out the difference in your quoted fare.

Other points to consider for air travel

Beside the price of the air fare, other things are also important to travelers. Consider these points:

  • Know if your flight is direct (you don’t change the airplane), if there is any planned stop(s) prior to the destination, has connection (require a plane change) or non-stop (no stops prior to the destination).
  • If you have to change plane, make sure you have enough time between flights to catch the second plane. Otherwise, you have the potential to miss your plane. Even you arrive early and if you are not familiar with the airport terminals, you can still be delayed before reaching the connecting flight gate. So be prepared to find the correct gate on time.
Posted on 10/8/2007
by Raj Singh