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by Cathie Gandel, AARP Bulletin, October 20, 2009
Want to make a graceful getaway but you’re concerned about cost? Here are four ways to save on air travel.
1) “The best time to book a flight is 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, in the time zone where the airline is based,” says Peter Greenberg, a travel expert for AARP.
How it works: You benefit from travelers who booked their airfare between Friday and Monday, when most airline fare wars are announced, but didn’t pay within the required 24 hours. On Tuesday at midnight, those unbought discount fares come flooding back into the airlines’ computers, so that’s when you pounce.
Call the airlines and, if you find a rate you’re happy with, book it but don’t pay for it yet—you have 24 hours. Now see if you can beat the fare on the Internet. If you can, buy it. If not, call back the airline and purchase the flight you booked.
“If you purchase something on the Web and then find something better later,” Greenberg says, “you’re trapped.”
2) If you want to know whether now or next week is the time to buy your ticket, plug your route into Bing Travel, as farecast.com is now called. For some domestic routes, the website predicts whether fares will be going up or down.
3) If you can’t plan ahead, try lastminute.com, many travel experts’ favorite pick. If you click on “last second deals,” you’ll get reduced-rate packages that include flights, hotels and car rentals arranged by date and destination.
4) Still looking for fire-sale airfares? Go to airfarewatchdog.com. It lists cheap flights by destination, but you’ll have to go to a booking site like Travelocity or Expedia to buy the ticket.
Cathie Gandel is a freelance writer based in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
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