Airfare Shopping Tips
While I have traveled a fair amount for my employer, I will now be flying home to NC on my own dime on a regular basis.
This calls for a different routine to purchase flights as I want to keep the total trip cost as low as possible and want to make sure I am getting the best deal possible. I have already purchased a couple of tickets so far and have learned a great deal so far.
- SideStep is now the 1st place I go to get a baseline cost for a trip. Unfortunately you won't be certain you are getting the best price unless you check out every site possible, but SideStep gives you the biggest bang for your time and scours most of the travel sites I would go to anyway.
- Once I find a flight that is a possibility I always go to the carriers web sites (such as AA, Delta, Southwest, etc) to see if I can get the same flight for cheaper. 3rd party sites tend to reveal the better flight prices compared to the carrier web sites, but the 3rd party sites tend to have booking fees. If you find a flight, go to the airline's web site you can usually get the same flight for the same price without the booking fees.
- SeatGuru is a must have site to help you pick out the right seat on your flight. I highly recommend checking it out while you book your flight to make sure you are not stuck in a bad seat.
- FareCompare helps you get a baseline price for a seat of a flight over time and sometimes gives you insight if fares are going up or down (by looking at the price charts)
- FareCast - A beta site that is of no use to me yet because it only looks at flights from Boston, MA or Seattle, WA. However it looks like it has great potential - they will look at the data available and suggest to you where you should buy your ticket now or wait because the ticket price is trending down or up. Hopefully they will be expanding to other cities soon.
Anyone have other suggestions to add?
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