Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting the Best Deal on Airline Tickets

I'm fairly new to the world of buying airline tickets, and I finally have a system down. I'd love to share it with you and hear back if you know of a way to get a better price.

Step 1
About four months before a trip (provided I know about it four months in advance), I start to watch airline ticket prices for the trip I plan to take. All ticket search sites seem to find the same results, so I just use Yahoo! Travel since Yahoo! is my home page.
I keep a record of the date I checked, the price, and the airline. I'll do this at least once a week for a couple of weeks to get a feel for ticket prices on the trip I'm taking.

Step 2
I check Farecast.com. This is actually a new step for me. I just used it last week before buying plane tickets for an upcoming trip to Arizona. The site is pretty neat because it tells you whether ticket prices for your flight are likely to go up or down in the next seven days and how sure it is of that prediction. There's also a little chart that shows the ticket price history.
This website came in handy because I had been watching the price of the Arizona tickets continually go up over the past couple of weeks. Early last week, they hit a new high and I got really nervous. I checked Farecast, which told me that prices were expected to drop back down. Whew! Sure enough, three days later, ticket prices were back down to their low since I'd started recording them. I checked Farecast again, and they predicted prices would go back up. I decided it was the right time to buy!

Step 3
I went to the airline's website to order the tickets. I have yet to find a website that can give me a better price than the airline itself. It's usually exactly $5 cheaper per ticket when I buy through the airline directly. I'm assuming that $5 must be the "finder's fee" other websites get for booking flights.
I also like the sense of security I get from knowing that there's no middleman to mess things up between me and the airline.

Step 4
Last, I relax and wait for my vacation to begin!

Have you found somewhere to get a better price than directly through the airline? I'd love to hear about it!

7 comments:

ladybugblue said...

Wow - do you know how often I've wished for something like farecast? I didn't know it was out there, but will definitely use it! Thank you!!

Becky said...

@ladybugblue
Yeah, I've been really happy with it. Ocassionally, though, they don't have a prediction for a certain flight. That's about the only downside I've seen.

Anne O. said...

Farecast is pretty cool but leaves out many airports, like smaller ones. So I have to stick to the manual flight tracking. Hopefully they will add more in time.

Becky@FamilyandFinances said...

@anne o.
Yeah, I've noticed that, too. Luckily, the cities I usually fly out of and into are tracked.

Anonymous said...

Try yapta.com. You have to first find a flight that you're interested in. Then input the airline, flight number, airport information and date and Yapta can alert you by email when the price for that exact flight goes up or down. I use this a lot in combination with farecast.

Becky@FamilyandFinances said...

@anonymous
Thanks for the tip - I'll check that one out!

Tedy said...

Becky, you may want to try www.Fly-how.com too. I found there 10 simple tips that saved me some money on my flight