Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Booking Cheap Vacation Flights

  (image courtesy of grandpapa2006)

This really applies to any flight... The Frugal Traveler, one of our favorite blogs (recently on featured on Jeopardy, out of all places...), recently came out with its best description yet of how to book a cheap flight. We use a simplified version of his process. This is how it goes (there are two processes, one for domestic, one for international):

Domestic Flights:
  1. Check options on Kayak (the best and clearest rate checking site at this time) and find the best suited flight
  2. Once the best option is found, find out from TravelCast (now part of Bing) whether the fare is likely to drop: pick origin, destination, date, search, and look for the PRICE PREDICTOR under the itinerary title. Of course, prediction is not guaranteed:-)
  3.  If the recommendation is WAIT with more than 60% certainty, go to Yapta, and subscribe to the price drop alerts for the flight in question. Some time or another, it will be necessary to decide when to stop waiting...
  4. Otherwise check the flight found on Kayak on the actual airline site, and buy it there with your frequent flier number, to make sure that, if there is a problem later, the airline totally owns up to the issue.
  5. Before picking your seat, check what area of the plane is best on SeatExpert.
International Flight:
  1.  Check options on Kayak. When you fill the origin, destination and date, before you click the search button, a price grid for that month will appear on the right on the page. The grid shows you lowest prices previously found for this origin and this destination, for your month of travel. If you find a cheaper alternative in a date that works for you, it is possible to select it there.
  2. Double check rates for your dates on Vayama.
  3. Book, if possible, on the actual airline site with your frequent flier number
  4. Before picking your seat, check what area of the plane is best on SeatExpert
More tips from the Frugal Traveler:
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to have lower rates and less crowded planes
  • cFares, for an annual fee of $50/year, gives you small rebates (when you book through them) that will save you money over a year if you travel several times a year
  • if you are willing to use a more complex site for domestic fares, you can double check your kayak finds on ITASoftware.
If you are based in Europe, SkyScanner spiders all discount airlines, and also gives you best-day-of-the-month travel grid, with a very clean interface.

Or - if you'd rather not do any of this and pay a slight fee to have somebody else do it all for you, call your trusty travel agent, or, for $50 per trip, have CrankyConcierge do it all for you -we are planning a post on Cranky soon...

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