Airfare Deals Every Traveler Should Know
When making big purchases, like appliances or cars, it’s pretty rare for a shopper to just go to one store and buy from there. Savvy shoppers know they need to do thorough research and comparison shopping to get the best prices on the best products.
That advice holds true when purchasing airfare as well. To get the best prices, our deal experts advice, you got to shop around.
Online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia, flight search sites like Kayak, and airline websites like Virgin America and American Airlines can help you find cheap flights and discounts that you wouldn’t find by relying on only one site.
Here are some examples on how you can get the best fare, with a little research and time:
Hotwire sells extra airline tickets at highly discounted rates by masking the name of the airline until after the ticket is purchased. You’ll see listings like “Major Airline, departing between 6am-10pm, one stopover.” The exact departure time and airline are revealed after the purchase. These tickets are not refundable and are not listed on search sites.
Priceline ended its "Name Your Own Price" tool in 2016, which allowed people to bid on fares. However, similar to Hotwire, you can still score a hefty discount on airfare with its "Express Deal Flights," also known as opaque fares. In exchange for the discount, the airline, layover times and flight times won't be revealed until after you purchase. While the tickets are non-refundable, there's a best price guarantee policy, so in the event that you find the same flight for less anytime until 24 hours before check-in, Priceline will refund you the difference.
Rewards and Loyalty Programs
You should also consider signing up for free reward programs offered by both airlines and some sites like Orbitz. These points can be redeemed for future travel, similar to airline frequent flyer points. But unlike frequent flyer programs, you can get valuable rewards even for small amounts of points, and you aren’t limited to only one airline.
Coupons and Promotions
Many sites like CheapOair and Travelocity routinely offer coupon codes. By visiting many sites, you can compare not only low fares, but may also discover special promotional offers that bring the total cost down even further.
Mistake fares are different from unadvertised fares because they are actually posted on airline sites because of technical or human error. These fares often seem too good to be true and the best advice if you find one is to book it immediately. The error will likely be fixed quickly and then the fares will disappear. If you book a mistake fare, be forewarned that the Department of Transportation recently ruled that airlines don't have to honor mistake fares -- although they do have to cover expenses incurred by consumers based on booking the mistake fare (such as hotels).