How do I find best price on Airfare? Because Nobody wants to pay full price for a ticket! Everyone that is going on vacation whether its a family, a couple or a solo traveler is looking to find the best price for wherever they are looking to go in order for them to be able to not only have more money to spend but, lets be honest, so they can brag to there friends and family on what a great deal that go.
However, there are so many prices out there that it can be confusing. I am going to help you with that as finding a good deal on airfare that both fits your budget and gets you to your destination without having you change planes or with many stop doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
Having been in the travel business since 1992 and having these special rates with many of the major airlines, one of the most frequently asked questions that I get is how to do I find the best deals on airfare. Although there are many different ways to go about finding the best rates, I have found that by understanding the following you can greatly increase your chances of getting the best rates to wherever you are traveling to.
Airfare Rates Defined:
Before we begin, lets start with some explanation on what some of this terminology means:
Bulk Rates/ Wholesale: Bulk ticketing is defined as a set rate fare that are associated with a travel packages
Consolidator Rates: Agencies are able to sell tickets on airlines at specially negotiated rates. You’ll often find the biggest savings on international tickets with agencies that specialzie in the area of the world you are travelling
Bulk Rates And Consolidator Tickets And How They Work:
Airlines usually allocate a small number of seats to what is sometimes referred to as bulk airfare. These rates are usually given to major wholesaler travel companies that sell a large number of tickets on that particular airline and these contracts are not easy to get These bulk rates are offered at various levels. For example , lets say you are flying from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica. A travel agency, that sells a lot of tickets for a particular airline, will be given access to the cheapest airfare to San Jose. However there may be only 5 seats on that flight at that rate and that travel agency is competing with other limited travel companies have access to those same 5 seats. Therefore, if you are looking to get those seats you need to book as early as you can since there are so few available.
Now once those seats are gone, the airlines may offer another 5 seats at a slightly more expensive rate and so on and so forth. Therefore your best option is too find an agency or online airfare site, like Bookings.com that has access to these exclusive rates. You would then like to that rate and compare it with the airlines sites to make sure you have the best rate available as sometimes that airlines will offer the same if not cheaper as they save a lot of money but having you buy direct with them.
Travel Packages and Wholesale Airfare:
When searching for discount airfares you will probably come across some incredible looking deals on packages that include airfare, that is usually due to requirements by the airlines that there budget airfare rates be included in a package in order that you don’t know that actual cost of the ticket and also to ensure that the tickets are not being sold to people business travelers for which these rates are not intended. What exactly determines a package can be somewhat iffy to determine as I have often seen companies combining these rates with just a car rental, often called a fly and drive package. These are usually very good deals if you are willing to drive in whatever destination you decide to travel to.
Agencies that are have Consolidator rates are able to buy tickets directly from the airlines at specially negotiated rates. You’ll often find the biggest savings on international tickets with agencies that specialzie in the area of the world you are travelling.
Airfare consolidators work similar to bulk airfare suppliers with the main difference is that they are able to tickets only and a package is not required. Many have this type of contract with more then 1 airline and give you rates on both the major carriers and smaller ones as well.
Restrictions on These airfares:
With budget airfares come the inevitable restrictions. In addition to the limited number of seats that are offered, there are also limitations on the dates you can travel and the route you must take. Usually these rates require that you stay over a Saturday night as this help the airlines assume you are purchasing the tickets for vacation purposes as to a business trip.
When to Buy the Tickets:
The simple and obvious answer is a soon as you have your dates and your ready to book.However, you need to keep in mind a most of the bulk fares are not available for booking more then 1 year out. On the flip side is that these rates can also be available as early as a week out however this is not very common in this day and age unless you are going to a very unusal destination that is considered a tourist spot but doesn’t get a lot of traffic. There is also the possibility of some last minute cancellations that would open up the seats in these classes of service.
Advantages of Working with Agencies with Bulk Airfare:
By working with an agency that has preferred fares with the airline you are traveling with is that they will have a dedicated airline employee that works with this travel agency and that can assist with any issues that there clients have. Say, for example, your luggage gets lost on your flight home, you can go through the usual route of talking to an airline agent that deals with these issues with all passengers or you can have you travel agency talk to there airline representative and have them check where your luggage is. This often increases the urgency in finding your lost luggage and getting it to you.
Also, sometimes the airlines give there agents that work with preferred agency, certain benefits that the agency can offer to there clients. These may include luggage vouchers, upgrades in seating, early check in etc. Be sure to ask your travel agency if any of these types of perks are available when you book.
Disadvantages of Working with Travel Agencies
So when and why would you book with an airline direct instead of an agency? The reason is because often times that airlines have more leeway in instances such as cancellations or change of dates. Also in todays day and age the airlines themselves have teamed up with local hotels and tour companies and can offer you similar packages and the same or even less expensive prices then if you when with one of there wholesalers.
The preferred agencies are often given very strict guidelines when it comes to there bulk tickets and 2 of the biggest ones are cancellation and change of dates fees. More likely then not bulk fares, sold through agencies, are non refundable and non endorsable and unless you have taken out travel insurance you will not be able to get a refund or give your ticket to another person… period… no exceptions.
However if you buy the ticket from the airline you MAY be able to get a refund, change your dates of travel for a fee or a simple credit that you can use the next time you travel with that airline.
If you decide to purchase your airfare whether it’s bulk or consolidator, it highly recommended that you take some of that savings and invest in travel insurance. Since these tickets are very restrictive its going to much easier to get your money back from your insurance company instead of the airlines or travel agency that you got your tickets from. I recommend that you check out TravelProtectInternational as they will compare various travel insurance companies and give you the best price for the options you choose.
In order find the least expensive rate the best way to start is with the airline directly. Go to there website and put in your dates to give you a baseline to go by. Then go online and look for agencies that specialize in the destination you are going to.
For example if you are going to Costa Rica you may want to use the search term “ travel agents specializing in Costa Rica” this will give you companies that sell a lots of packages to Costa Rica and will often have a airline that they use to get there clients there. This may also be the only destination they offer in which case you are on the right track
You should call or email these companies and ask if you can purchase just airfare from them, if that is all you need, or what kinds of discount packages do they offer that include airfare. These are usually better rates then an agency that sells to multiple destinations.
You should also check rates with the large online airfare agencies such as travelpro and compare those rates to both the airlines and travel companies. Since they usually sell in such large volume they have rates that are equal too or better then the other 2 options and buying the ticket(s) is as easy as filling out the appropriate forms on there site..
Well, that’s it, I hope by arming you with this knowledge it is not only helpful but also gets you the best airfare for wherever you may be travelling.