If you have read any articles on how to get cheap air fare, you know that it is best to make reservations are far in advance as possible. Halloween is just a few days away, so I don't have over a month to plan. I decided to go through the usual steps to get cheap fare. What are those steps?
- At least 30 days advanced notice
- Go direct to airlines web site for pricing comparisons
- Check frequent flyer miles
- Check with tour companies for flight - hotel combos
- Check with consolidators or bucket shops
- Check rates from major airline hubs
I wanted to get an idea of a price so I knew what was being offered. I live in Colorado Springs and going to Denver is a possibility since it is a major hub in the region. It takes about 90 minutes to get there. While it was a possibility, I really wanted to fly from Colorado Springs (COS). I drive a lot and coming home from a week in NYC driving another 90 minutes would be too much.
I had heard that flying into JFK was a hassle and more expensive and if at all possible I should try to book at a nearby airport that might be easier to get into and out of. The travel time to get to NYC from JFK was also an unknown. So I made my final destination Newark, NJ (EWR). I have flown into EWR before and have never had a problem.
So here is the scenario. I did not want to fly out of Denver (DIA) so that eliminated the last bullet. I do not have 30 days advance notice, so that eliminated the first bullet. I used all of my frequent flyer miles seeing my mother so the third bullet was out. So this leaves bullets #2, 4 and 5 as my options at this time.
I went to the United Airlines web site and plugged in my dates leaving on November 24 and returning on November 30. I did not care about the time, so I left that blank. The price came back with $1187.50 traveling on United to Chicago and then on to Newark. Coming back was the reverse. For giggles I decided to check with American Airlines. On the same route and dates, American Airlines web site gave me a fare of $926.50.
So now I had a ball park, but I am thinking I can do a lot better. I Google for Colorado Tours to NYC to see if there are tours going to NYC at Thanksgiving time which would be hotel, airfare and maybe some entertainment (with 40 or 50 other people). The packages I find range from $1750 to $4,000 each for airfare, hotel and entertainment. Remember I am trying to save money. So I forget this approach and try for the consolidators.
My favorite, Orbitz , was the company I used for my European trip when I went - open jaw . I plugged in my dates and made the number of people = 1 and press search. Orbitz had a fare of $378 but they only had one ticket at that price. So I went back and checked the price for two and pressed search. The new price for two was $418.
Is $418 cheaper than $1187.50? I think so, but could I do better. I knew that sometimes flying into surrounding areas or airports can cut the cost. So I checked the price for JFK (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA) and JFK was $672 and LGA was $432. What if I flew into Boston (BOS)? What was the rate from COS to BOS? I figured I might be able to take a round trip on the train from BOS to NYC and maybe the price difference would make the train ride worthwhile cost wise.
I learned an interesting thing doing the COS to BOS search. The fare was only $404. There was a stop in Dallas, and Dallas is not my favorite airport because of the weather. But think of the possibilities. I could have Rocky Mountain Oysters for breakfast and have New England Oysters for dinner on the same day. WOW!
But the round trip on the train from BOS to NYC was more than the savings I would get by flying direct to NYC. But I gathered a good piece of intelligence. Lastly I decided to try another consolidator. I went to Airline Consolidator . Here I found two tickets leaving COS to EWR on November 24th and returning on November 30th for $335 + $63 in taxes and fees for a total of $398.
Kayak was a site I had heard a lot about and I checked there last. One thing that I stumbled on to three times by accident was a calendar that showed by traveling on different dates the fares were even lower than $404 that was quoted for the COS to BOS on American. But like I say, I stumbled there by accident and could not replicate where on the web site the calendar was located so I could get there on purpose.
This article should give you some ideas on where to look and how to do a search for cheap fares. On the Kayak site, there was a chart showing how air fare has come way down in the past month going from and to the places in my article.
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Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.? You can send me your questions or comments on my bio page. My next article will be out shortly.
Jim Fortune - the BellaOnline Budget Travel Guy