Some of us can remember the times when we would go to the travel agent up the street if we wanted to fly somewhere. It was quite simple. The only real decision you had to make was which travel agency to use if there were more than the one in the same area. On most occasions you didn’t even have to make that decision as travel agencies were well scattered around the suburbs and major country towns. It was only in the cities where any real competition occurred. The way of purchasing airline tickets was soon to change.
For example, loyalty was more common in the past. When you went for a drink in the bar of a hotel you would usually be confronted with a large picture of an aeroplane, or an airline hostess inside a large frame, telling you the phone number of your favourite carrier. You would never make enquiries about the prices charged by any other airlines. You only travelled on the one carrier and that was that. It was a time proven system and the airlines themselves were never challenged, they advertised on their safety record on not the prices they charged.
Things all changed when the internet came along. All of a sudden the airlines had to compete against one another on prices. Passengers threw loyalty out the window and flying suddenly became less expensive. Former competitors merged with each other and previously unknown airlines from foreign countries began flying in looking for customers. The internet shopper became very sophisticated and when armed with a credit card, he or she found they could snap up a bargain on the spot. The airline didn’t matter all that much, it was the seat price that your decision was based on.
However, the major carriers were not to be beaten. They went about reviving the long held tradition of loyalty and introduced loyalty rewards programs. The more you travelled with the one specific airline, or one of its partners, the more rewards points you earned and these points could be cashed in at a later date for cheaper travel. If you flew frequently you could even grab a freebie every so often. Rewards points became so popular that you could even earn them while doing your grocery shopping in supermarkets.
How to Save Money When Booking a Flight
Once in the market the internet was too big to be dominated by any one airline company and it still remains the one true vehicle for finding the cheapest airline tickets, no matter what the different airlines tell us in their glossy advertising brochures. When it all comes down to dollars and cents nothing can beat the ability of an airline customer sitting down in an airport lounge comparing prices. This is particularly valuable if the airline is soon to leave and it still has many seats to fill. If you are not a naturally stressful person and your itinerary is flexible you can save quite a lot of money by being a last minute traveller.
There are many sites on the internet that specialise in cheap airline tickets. These sites keep an up to the minute eye on ticket price movements and can be quite a valuable tool in your armoury when seeking the cheapest flights. For instance, in spite of the advice that the cheapest flights can sometimes be arranged in airport lounges at the last minute, it is not an appropriate way to take your family around the world, especially during the holiday season when most flights are fully booked out well before departure time. It is therefore much safer to have your passage fully arranged as early as possible.
The best and safest approach is to book your seats at least three months out. This will give you plenty of time to look around to make sure you get the best deal possible. When you are sure you will be travelling and what routes you will be taking, start looking around for the cheapest flights. When you book early many airlines will allow you a refund if you have paid any extra fees. Other airlines will give you an option of being able to reuse the tickets on a later date as a part of their standard fare. Whatever you do make certain you understand what the ticket covers, especially in the event of something occurring that you had not planned for. Reserving your seats early can often save you a lot of money in that the airlines generally increase their prices 21 days out, then 14 days, seven days and even as close as three days. If you are flying internationally it is advisable to book as early as six months out to get the best deals.
The biggest advantage you have by being able to use the internet is that you have the ability to shop around from the comfort of your home. You no longer have to walk around the various travel agencies, nor do you have to spend hours on the phone waiting for someone in a call centre to finally get to talking to you. However you must never book the first offer you come across. There are many cheap airline ticket agencies online. Check them all out. While doing so you will be gathering information about the flight you are after, such as which airlines dominate each specific route, what the average fare is and if someone is offering any specials. If it all seems a bit dear, don’t panic, leave it for a few days and look around again. If one of the airlines feel the seats are filling too slowly they might drop their price a little and this could start a rush with the others doing likewise.