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Cheap Plane Tickets

Chapter 5 : More Secrets for Cheap Plane Tickets

For cheap plane tickets in general, first try one of the well-known sites, like Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, Hotwire or Priceline. Check several web sites when shopping for plane tickets. I just checked for fares from Tucson, Arizona to Traverse City, Michigan on the five sites mentioned above. The quotes, using the same dates and criteria, ranged from $704 for the cheapest fare listed on one site to a low of $432 on another.

Never mind which one was cheapest (oh, okay, it was Expedia), because you never know from week to week which web sites will find the cheapest flights. That's why the number one rule is to check at least three places. In this case, it would mean a savings of $272. The flight durations are within minutes of each other, by the way, and the food is probably equally bad on all the flights.

Flexibility Gets You even Cheaper Airfare

The more flexible you can be, the better your chance of getting a really cheap plane tickets. Begin by trying several different departure and return dates if you can. The difference of a day or two can save you a lot. Check the boxes that say "any time" for departure and "2 or more connecting flights".

Even if you aren't sure that you want to leave at midnight, see what your options are-the savings might change your mind. Whenever the search criteria allow you choices, take the ones that are the least restrictive for the airlines. Again, if the savings aren't enough, you can always book first class, direct flights, or whatever you prefer.

Other Ways to Buy Really Cheap Plane Tickets

Try buying two tickets-one for each leg of the trip. Airfare from Traverse City, Michigan to Tucson, Arizona costs $451 round trip for the cheapest ticket I could find just now (2006). Las Vegas to Tucson is only $161, however, and there are regular $199 specials to Vegas from Traverse City.

It is up to you whether a savings of $91 is worth booking two flights (It was a difference of over $1000, when we went to South America). There is the problem of timing, and whether you'll get a refund if your timing is off on your connections - you probably won't.

Package deals, where you pay for plane tickets and your hotel room, may save you money. I haven't had any luck with these deals, but it can't hurt to look into it.

Buying ahead of time usually gets you cheap plane tickets. Any thing less than a week away tends to be expensive, although you never can tell in the mysterious realm of airfare pricing. Sometimes the "last minute specials" are the best thing going.
2010 Update: It is still possible to save money using the two-ticket strategy. Just be sure to check several possible combinations.

Bid for Tickets

Priceline has a "Name Your Own Price" feature that sometimes gets you really cheap plane tickets. You simply enter your credit card information and tell them what you will pay. Within minutes the airlines say yes or no, depending on whether they have empty seats to fill up.

The best way to use this is to first search for the cheapest tickets you can find. Then go to Priceline and bid lower than that. If your bid is rejected, hurry back to the website where you found the best deal and book it.

Throw Away Tickets

I was sitting in the Miami airport one day, and the woman next to me explained that she was flying to Houston. It was cheaper to buy a ticket to Los Angeles, however, on a flight that transferred in Houston. She would just get off in Houston and throw away the other part of the ticket.

Moral of the story? If you are flying to a location that is a common transfer point, you may want to check on other flights that transfer there. The airlines don't like this, for some reason, so don't mention that you'll be getting off until you are there (then it would be nice to tell them, so they don't hold the flight for you). Also, you will have to have only carry-on for this to work.

"Super-saver" fares are cheap, but sometimes require a stay of seven days. If you want to stay less time, check to see if buying two of these deals is cheaper than a regular round-trip ticket. Buy one for the date you are going, and another that leaves your destination on the day you want to return. Just throw away the other half of each ticket.

Bus-Plane Money Saving Trick

When my wife and I went to Ecuador for six weeks, the cheapest discount plane tickets we could find were $3400. I had run into this problem of not living near an international airport before. I had also found a solution, for when money is really tight.

We took a Greyhound bus to Miami. It cost $352 round-trip for the two of us. Then flew from there to Quito, which was $622 round-trip for both of us. $985 total, including the taxi from the bus station to the airport. We saved $2400. I'm not recommending this, but at the time, for us, it was worth a couple days on a bus. (The whole six weeks cost $2400.)

The general principle here is more important; some airports will be much cheaper to fly out of than others, so you may save money if you can find a cheap way to get to that airport. This doesn't have to mean taking a bus. It may be cheaper for you to drive a few hours to a major airport and leave your car parked there. You might also give a friend gas money to take you there.

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. - Miriam Beard

Continue with Chapter 6 here: Travel Security

Note: This chapter on cheap plane tickets was part of the e-book Travel Secrets. Now all chapters are free on this site. See the homepage (the link is at the bottom of this page) for a list of all chapters and links to them.

Other Pages:

United States Travel
Cheap Family Vacations
Cheap Solo Vacations
10 Cheap Vacations

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