How to get the best deal on an airline ticket
Jun 6, 2007 by Michael Redbourn
Finding The Best Agents
There is no such thing as worthwhile and comprehensive list of ticket discounters that is available and the closest thing to it would be the lists of wholesale suppliers maintained by the best retail discounters.
These are however simply lists of wholesalers and they wouldn't do you any good even if an agency were willing to reveal them to you which nobody that had a worthwhile list would be willing to do.
The various discount retail agents compete at negotiating deals and after tracking down the best that's available they vigilantly guard the information about prices, commissions and suppliers.
In addition it should be noted that every list of retail discounters becomes obsolete so quickly that it would not to be useful to you.
It is important to realize that the lowest advertised price is usually either a loss leader and/or a bait and switch strategy to attract callers. The lowest advertised prices for trans-oceanic tickets from the U.S.A. for example, generally range somewhere between the wholesale cost for the cheapest ticket and about $20 below that cost but it is unlikely that you will ever get a ticket at those prices.
Additionally, most of the advertised prices are exclusive of taxes and perhaps other fees too and even during the most expensive season the lowest advertised prices are usually for travel in low season.
Although shopping exclusively on price is a good way to make sure that the agency from which you eventually buy your ticket has cut its margin to a minimum one should also be careful to ensure that they haven't reduced the price to the point that they can no longer offer an acceptable standard of service.
Last minute discounts?
Many people believe that they can get a cheaper ticket if they wait until the last moment "when airlines sell off blocks of unsold seats cheaply" but in reality this doesn't happen because airlines and agencies don't work that way.
It is of course sometimes possible to get a cheap ticket on very short notice but it will hardly ever be cheaper than if you had planned ahead and very often you may end up paying more at the last moment than you would have done had you planned ahead because no more bargain basement deals are available.
Round The World Trips
Be aware that getting the best price on most around the world trips necessitates having tickets issued in several different places which will more often than not be on several different continents and it will generally take an agent a couple of weeks to import these tickets for you from the various locations. Therefore you should never wait until the last moment when wanting a ticket of this type.
Should You Buy From A Local Travel Agent?
I personally would never dream of buying an international ticket from a neighborhood travel agent.
Depending on your itinerary, I would suggest trying either an agency specializing in the your desired destination and/or a bucket shop.
If you ask a travel agent for a ticket to a destination that he doesn't normally work with then more often than not he will simply
buy the ticket from a bucket shop and then mark up the price.
Contrary to what is generally believed to be the case you should not make reservations directly with an airline and then shop around for a better price and you shouldn't make reservations with more than one travel agency. The reason for not doing the forgoing is that more and more airlines have implemented auto-cancellation software for duplicate bookings and in some cases you may find that you lost your original reservation and might then end up paying a higher price than had you previously arranged.
A Few Final Tips
Buy a package. Buying a ticket that includes a hotel room will often save you a lot because it brings extra revenue to the booking agency which can then in turn offer you a bigger discount on the airfare.
Be flexible with the dates. Plus or minus a day can make a huge difference with air travel.
Research the local airports. A great many services provide an option that will enable you to include nearby airports in your search and choosing a specific airport will often bring about a further price reduction.
Non-stop flights are usually the most expensive and if you have time at your hands consider a connecting flight instead. Generally speaking the more stops that there are the better the price will be.
We hope you found our article helpful and enjoyable.