Air Travel

With the holiday travel season just beginning, a lot of first-time or infrequent travelers are going to be passing through airports and boarding planes.

It’s very easy for our frequent flyers and seasoned travelers to become impatient and frustrated with people who just can’t seem to figure out what needs to be done. I’ve been as guilty of feeling this way as the next person, so it’s a good reminder that much of the delay and fumbling about is simply a lack of information and experience.

Below is a series of articles about the varying stages of travel, covering every stage of the journey, from leaving home to arriving at your destination. It’s my hope that this will not only inform and educate the infrequent traveler but will also provide a few little tips for those of you who consider yourselves pros at travel.

There are lots of different ways to travel smarter, better, and more efficiently.

How to Find the Best Airfare

One of the benefits of being a Flight Attendant is the availability of free or reduced-rate travel.  The disadvantage of this perk is that the travel is always on standby, which means I have to rely on there being an otherwise empty seat on the plane.

There are times when flying standby isn’t a problem.  With the right attitude, it can even be an adventure.  But when I really have to be somewhere on a schedule, I do just what everyone else does — I go looking for a bargain.

I do most of my research online, first checking out the various airline websites.  These sites have been continually improving over the years, and have become fairly reliable on finding the lowest fare.  Some even offer the lowest fare guarantee.

Next, I check the major travel sites:  Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, and Travelocity.  Fares on these sites seem to be fairly consistent with one another and don’t usually turn up any surprises.

Lastly, I check a few of the lesser-known, but still efficient sites:  Side Step (compares the fares from several different airlines), Which Budget (a listing of the budget airlines that fly between various cities), and Fare Compare.

Another way to look for a better fare price is to consider a different route.  If your plans involve making a connection, sometimes you can find a better fare simply by routing through a different city.  Try pricing out a couple of different options and see what you can come up with.  If you are talking with a reservation agent, ask them if there is a better fare if you route through a different city.

Most of the time when you deal directly with the airlines, the agents automatically quote the lowest fare.  However, it never hurts to ask:  Is this the best fare available, or is there something lower out there?

These sites and techniques have always worked well for me, and I have never felt like I’ve overpaid or missed out on a good deal.