Getting Cheap Flights — ( 8 pgs. 3 illus. ) — Art of Travel — European and World Backpacking

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How to Find Cheap Flights

TWO HUNDRED YEARS ago the price was seven years into a lifetime of servitude for average people creating a one-way crossing of the Atlantic. Now a couple of days of waiting tables can fund it.

When booking through an agent, always specify you want the lowest possible fare, since there may be specials that do not fall under APEX or economy. Not every agent–even with the budget experts listed below–will be motivated or competent to find the ticket. They may not know about a great deal the next cubicle has been selling all week, or the commission may not merit bothering much.

Likewise, purchasing a ticket isn’t the same as getting the cheapest price. As with any travel agent, you may be offered an average price the lowest price, or a test price. You have to make comparisons and move boldly when a deal presents itself. A good plan is to reserve the fully-refundable fare early, then continue searching for something better to pop up.

You may find an attractive price on the main leg, but a high one on the connect. Try reversing the search, or book one leg at a time. Allow at least three hours between flights for international departures/changeovers.

Frequently the best deals are offered directly by airline websites. Sometimes you sign-up with the airline and they notify you via email of hugely-restricted but incredibly cheap specials a few days. These include American. United. Continental. Northwest. Southwest (the U.S. low-fare and efficiency leader), U.S. Airways. TWA. Delta. Alaska. Canadian. Carnival. And Cathay Pacific (which periodically auctions–with minimal bid–several hundred seats on New York and Los Angeles to Hong Kong runs.)

Large Internet Travel Sites

All listings are the result of general budget travel comprehension, experience, or research. The sole contract is between writer and reader. Travelocity.com The largest, from AMR, the parent of SABRE and American Airlines. Expedia.com Microsoft’s successful (in the black) travel website. Priceline.com A reverse-auction site where you decide how much you’re willing to pay, then software searches for an airline willing to release a chair for that amount. You select the date but not the time, if an airline agrees your credit card is billed, and you are permitted only one bid per route. While Priceline recommends bidding in the lowest published fare for the route, some success is reported at thirty percent under. Previewtravel.com Closely connected with AOL, owned by Travelocity. Itn.net The Palo Alto engine behind many front travel agencies such as CNN. ITN works with local travel agents. americanexpress.com/travel American Express travel agency. travelweb.com From Dallas-based Pegasus Systems. Hotwire.com Hotwire is an airline, hotel, and rental car partnership discounting oversupply (including 500,000 daily seats) directly to customers. Buyers do not know airline names, flight times, or hotel locations until after purchase, and refunds or changes aren’t permitted. Orbitz.com An airline alliance designed to bypass traditional reservation networks and return a few additional percent of revenue to the companies flying the planes. It provides comprehensive route and fare information, and has attracted Justice Department interest and a million-dollar CEO.

Student and Budget Experts

Even though a few tickets require student or youth status, most do not. The following serve customers requiring cheap fares, and have access to discounted tickets. To be certain of any price that is low-market that is true at least a few queries must be made by you. (See Bargaining in Chapter 8.)

sta-travel. Com Previously Student Travel Australia, and certainly responsible for Aussies’ legions . STA has nearly 200 offices in ten states. Main U.S. office is 10 Downing St. New York, NY 10014. tel. 212-627-3111. National service desk 800-777-0112. ciee.org Council Travel. Has several dozen offices in the U.S. specializing in student and budget travel. Operates charter flights to Europe in the summer (Council Charter tel. 800-800-8222). Main office is 205 E. 42 St. New York, NY 10017. tel. 212-661-1414 or 212-661-0311. Sells ISIC cards, Eurail passes, and the most excellent Work, Study, and Travel Abroad: The Whole World Handbook. travelcuts.com Canadian Universities Travel Service. Has twenty offices in Canada and one in London. Main office is at 187 College St. Toronto, Ontario M5T1P7. tel. 416-979-2406. Acotra.com Belgium-based student travel organization with good connections to Africa. ACOTRA World USA, 29777 Telegraph Road, Suite 2432, Southfield, Michigan 48034 and ACOTRA World Ltd. rue de la Madeleine 51, 100 Brussels, Belgium tel. 32.2.512.70.79 fax 32.512.39.74

Domestic Bucket Shops

Air Brokers International 323 Geary, Suite 411, San Francisco, CA 94102 tel. 800-883-3273 fax: 415-397-4767. Sells tickets that are circle-Pacific and around-the-world. airbrokers.com Air Hitch 2790 Broadway, Suite 100, New York, NY 10025 tel. 212-864-2000 or 800-326-2009. Air Hitch provides $269 from the West Coast, one-way rides across the Atlantic for $ 169 from the East Coast, and $ 229 from in-between. You send your top three destinations in Europe, and the money, a five-day window when you want to leave. While they do not guarantee the destination, based on AirHitch 95% fly inside their date range. Many travelers have indicated a regular reserved seat for a few bucks more is less risky and a superior value. Cheap Tickets, Inc.. 1247 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10021 tel. 212-570-1179 Also has offices in L.A. San Francisco, and Honolulu. National tel. is 800-377-1000 (espaсol: 800-991-6199) and fax 800-454-2555. Formerly a U.S. domestic specialist, Cheap Tickets currently sells international tickets. cheaptickets.com Cut Throat Travel Outlet 731 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 tel. 800-642-TRIP (California only) and 415-989-TRIP. By having it issued by Dubai A agent from this company saved me $ 150 on a one-way. Global Discount Travel Services 980 Kelly Johnson Drive, Clark County, NV 89119 888-777-2222. Regularly advertises in the The New York Times. lowestfare.com High Adventure Travel San Francisco, 800-350-0636. Advertises around-the-world, circle-Pacific, and multi-continent fares at the New York Times. highadv.com TicketPlanet 800-799-8888 and fax 415-288-9839. Advertises around-the-world and circle-Pacific fares at the The New York Times. ticketplanet.com Sunco Travel International 690 Market Street, #1501, San Francisco, CA 94104 tel. 800-989-6017 or 415-291-9960. More tickets that are around-the-world. TRAVAC 989 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10018 tel. 800-TRAV-800 or 212-563-3303. Travac specializes on scheduled airlines and charters. Up Away Travel 347 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 212-889-2345. Claims lowest prices in town. yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Travel/Agents/ A list of hundreds of travel agencies.

Ethnic Bucket Shops

Foreign airlines usually sell the bulk of their discounted tickets to bucket shops in ethnic neighborhoods which mostly serve their own nationality. A travel agency in Koreatown in Los Angeles may have good deals on Korea Air. Chinatown in San Francisco has a dozen competitive travel agencies with specials to all over Asia.

Sometimes these ethnic agencies only advertise in local ethnic-language papers, and they may not be able to speak English but they should be considered if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Foreign Bucket Shops

You will most likely use bucket shops in other countries if you become a one time flier. Competitive bucket shops are found in Sydney, Hong Kong, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Istanbul, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Delhi, Bombay, Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and many other cities.

You need to be careful since unscrupulous dealers exist. Favor shops recommended by your guidebook, that are busy, or at least have an air of history.

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