Buying International Airline Tickets Timeline

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Buying International Airline Tickets Timeline
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Contents
Web Resources for Booking
Cheap Flights
3
Airline Websites
3
Travel Apps for Booking
Cheap Flights
3
Priceline Bidding for
Flights
4
How to Bid for Plane
Tickets on Priceline:
4
Tips for Booking and
Flying Ryanair in Europe
5
Getting Free Flights with
Mileage Credit Cards
6
Booking with American
Airlines Miles—How to
Save Hundreds on Fees
6
Buying International
Airline Tickets Timeline
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Tips for Cheap Tickets
get a travel credit card if
you want to fly on miles
set fare alerts
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start checking prices
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buy ticket(s)
start bidding Priceline if
you haven’t purchased yet
Tips for Cheap Tickets
Choose the ‘flex-days’ option on websites when
pricing tickets
Plane ticket prices fluctuate constantly. There are
bargains to be had if you catch them at the right time.
Sometimes prices can change as much as 30 or 40% in
a day!
This will let you see the prices for the same itinerary two or
three days before and after your desired travel date.
Book your overseas flight 8 to 10 weeks in advance
The earliest bird doesn’t always get the cheap ticket. A
recent study showed that the cheapest domestic tickets in
the US were purchased 6 weeks before takeoff. We usually
book 8 weeks prior for an international flight. We have
found that’s about the time that the price drops drastically
for our tickets.
If you’re flexible on travel dates and times and you do
your research, you can book an affordable flight or even
a free one.
Set fare alerts immediately
Do this as soon as you know you want to travel. On sites
such as Airfarewatchdog, you type in your desired trip
(departure and destination cities), and they email you
whenever the price drops. This is important, because
specials promotion price drops can happen at any time.
Book your flight on a Tuesday afternoon
Airlines drop their prices on Tuesday and usually raise
prices throughout the week. According to research, the best
time to search for ticket prices is Tuesday at 3pm EST. The
worst time to buy is on Saturday evening.
Check regional airlines
Be flexible which city you fly into or out of
Many regional airlines run very limited routes, but offer
fantastic savings if you can make their routes and times
work. Check these websites directly, as many of these do not
show up on Priceline or other searches.
Some search engines have the options to “search nearby
airports.” A group of us tried this once when traveling to
Florence, Italy. Instead of flying directly there, we flew into
a smaller nearby airport and then took a train to Florence.
We would recommend this strategy if you’re going to save a
significant amount of money to make it worth your hassle.
Be flexible which season you travel
Many people travel to Europe during the summer months
(hence the term “tourist season”.) If you don’t mind a bit
chillier weather, you can sometimes book flights to Europe
during the off-months for dirt-cheap prices. Plus the sites
aren’t as crowded. **Be aware, if you travel in off-months,
not all tourism sites or lodging places may be open.
Look at promotional packages
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes flight and
hotel/car package deals are actually cheaper than just
the flights themselves. Or even just a few dollars extra.
Companies make travel deals with airlines and hotels and
put them together as promotional packages...and pass the
savings on to you.
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Name your own price through Priceline
Seasonal
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You may not get the exact flight times you want, but friends
of ours sometimes save 30-50% on their last-minute flights
by naming their own price. More details on how to bid on
tickets can be found on page 4.
Europe Prices
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low season (off season)
+ cheapest time to fly
+ winter sports
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- less inclement weather
- shorter days
Tips: Visit at the beginning or end of the season,
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Consider a multi-city or open-jaw ticket
it’s cheaper to fly and you can make the most
of the weather. Bring warmer clothing, an
umbrella, and waterproof shoes. Get started
earlier in the morning!
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All this means is that you fly into one city and then fly
out of another city to return home. We sometimes get hit
with skepticism on this one. People often say, “Oh, it’s very
expensive to do that!” But in reality, we’ve often priced
multi-city tickets that were the same as a “normal” ticket.
Why would you want an “open-jaw” ticket?
shoulder season
+ cheaper to fly
+ more inclement weather
+ fewer crowds
Tips: Autumn is typically cheaper than spring
high season (peak season)+ best weather
- most expensive time to fly
- large crowds
Tips: If summertime is best for you to travel,
try to leave at the beginning or end of
the season for better pricing
Indicates a season’s more advantageous traveling times.
Consider this: You’re flying into Paris and wandering
around Europe for two weeks. You plan to venture down to
southern Italy toward the end of the trip. You could either
travel all the way back up to Paris to depart for home (a day
and some money spent) or just fly out of the Rome airport.
Price both options and see which is best. Most times you’ll
find an open-jaw option works really well if you want to
travel in more of a straight line than a loop.
Travel mid-week
In general, flights are cheaper if travel you Tuesday,
Wednesday, or Saturday - The cheapest day of the week to
fly is Wednesday. Flights to Europe tend to be cheaper if
you fly out Monday through Wednesday. The worst days
to travel? Friday and Sunday, by far. We’ve seen prices
fluctuate four or five hundred dollars just by traveling on a
Thursday instead of a Friday.
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Web Resources for Booking Cheap Flights
Airline Websites
Kayak.com
American Airlines
Compares prices from other websites across airlines
Flights to Europe from many hubs in the United States
Priceline.com
Delta
Flights to Europe from many hubs in the United States
Check prices or name your own price.
Explore the route maps from here:
https://w w w.delta.com/content/w w w/en_US/travelingwith-us/where-we-fly/routes.html
Airfarewatchdog.com
You can create a specific itinerary (e.g. From Tulsa, OK to
Rome, Italy) and receive email updates when the price drops.
You can also choose to receive price updates on flights out of
a certain city (Tulsa, OK) or flights into a certain city (Rome,
Italy).
Lufthansa
Serves more than 410 destinations in over 100 countries
Swiss International Air
Farecompare.com
Flights from Zurich to different locations, including the
United States.
Flight price comparisons and travel tips.
Farecompare.com/maps/
Aer Lingus
For flights to Ireland
A cool function from farecompare that allows you to choose
a departure city and time. You can then see prices for travel
to places around the world (on a map).
Where they fly: (interactive route map) http://aerlingus.
dynamicroutemaps.com/
SkyScanner.com
Sky Scanner allows you to search an entire month or year
for cheap prices. They also check many regional airlines. Or
if you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose the options
to fly to any country in Europe for the cheapest price! It’s a
good way to search many options in a short amount of time.
Travel Apps for Booking Cheap Flights
TravelChicks Twitter Feed
Hipmunk
Ranks flights by “agony” instead of just price.
Priceline
Good functionality like the site, but it cannot yet book multicity flights.
Not to tweet our own horn, so to speak, but we keep an eye
out for major airline sales and tweet away when we spy
something.
OnTheFly
This app is unique because you have the option to say how
many days you want your trip to last and then scroll through
the month to see exactly where the cheapest flights would
be. This beats typing in trip details over and over, and it’s
an easy way to save hundreds. Here is a flight we priced (and
saved our friend $600!)
Expedia
Has a rewards program and best price guarantee.
CheapOAir
Compares and books over 450 airlines. Has a best price
guarantee.
Hotwire
This site also has the option to sign up for an alert when a
certain route price drops.
Other airline booking sites that also have apps
Expedia, Hotwire, CheapOAir, SkyScanner, Kayak
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Priceline Bidding for Flights
How to Bid for Plane Tickets on Priceline:
Bidding for a ticket on Priceline can save you valuable
travel money. All you need is a little schedule flexibility
and a bit of adventurousness (is that a word?). Check
out this video of us going through the Priceline bidding
process.
The good part is, you’re in control of deciding how much
flexibility Priceline has when booking your ticket. If
you only want to travel on a specific day and have one
connection - that’s fine. That’s up to you.
If you want to give Priceline more options for finding
a cheap ticket, you can add in more days, airports, or
connections. However, we do have a specific strategy
for getting a good deal and getting an acceptable trip.
Priceline’s Name Your Own Price Tool for tickets is
best when:
You have to fly soon—such as within two weeks.
Bidding Strategy
You know the current market price of the ticket you
want.
You have some flexibility on when you fly.
Here are some things to keep in mind when bidding
on the Priceline Name Your Own Price Page.
You choose travel days, not times.
With Priceline bidding, they can start your journey any
time throughout the day, including very early morning or
late into the evening.
1.
Look up the market price on the ticket.
2.
Go to Priceline’s Name Your Own Price Page
3.
Start bidding a few days before you need to have the
ticket. (This way you have time to rebid)
4.
Choose one departure airport and one arrival
airport.
5.
Keep the default set at only jet planes and only one
connection.
6.
Bid below what you would be willing to pay for a
ticket. Note: You must enter credit card info before
you bid, so when you bid, you buy the ticket. There’s
no turning back, so make sure you want to make the
trip before you bid.
7.
If Priceline does not accept your bid, it will likely
give you a counter-offer. If you don’t like the
counter-offer, go to the next step and bid again.
8.
When immediately re-bidding, you must make one
change on your trip. You can either add an airport,
add more possible connections, add possible days,
or choose to fly on non-jet planes (we don’t do this
one). Only change ONE.
9.
Re-bid a slightly higher price.
10.
Continue this process until a bid is accepted or until
you don’t like the options given.
11.
If you don’t successfully bid, you will be able to
start the bidding process over again in a day.
You can only bid on one-way or round-trip tickets.
For some reason, Priceline does not allow you to bid on
“open-jaw” or multi-city tickets. We’re disappointed in that,
but we’re glad we have the option to bid at all.
You will be booked on a jet aircraft, unless you
specify otherwise.
You have the option in the bidding process to say that you
will travel on a non-jet aircraft. But the default is a jet plane.
You won’t be put on a prop plane.
You will have a maximum of one connection.
When we first started bidding, we thought Priceline could
route us through seven airports all over the continents. Not
so. You can only have a maximum of one connection - which
is better than several flight plans we’ve chosen ourselves!
Again, in the bidding process you can choose to have more
than one connection, but the default is one.
If they accept your bid - it’s bought! No going back and
picking a different flight. However, if it’s not accepted, you
will not be charged.
Will this process always get you a steal? Not
necessarily. That depends on how full airline capacity
is for that time period. But we’ve never seen it not
save something. If you have some flexibility in travel
and a sense of adventure, go for it!
You have a chance to bid again.
Watch our instructional video here:
You must enter your credit card information before
you bid.
You must change one thing each time you immediately bid
again. This could be the departure day, return day, airport,
number of connections, etc.
You can bid your exact journey specs later.
Priceline makes you wait a couple of days to bid your exact
flight plan again - this is to prevent starting off at a low
bid and then just increasing it over and over by one or two
dollars.
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Tips for Booking and Flying Ryanair in
Europe
3. Get Your Boarding Pass Stamped.
If you don’t have a European Union passport, you
must go to the baggage drop desk before you go
through security, and get your passport checked,
and your boarding pass stamped or they will not
let you on the plane. As a business, Ryanair makes
a large portion of its income on its passengers’
mistakes. So get your passport checked and your
pass stamped. It will save you many Euros and
many tears.
Ryanair is one of Europe’s most famous budget airlines
– you can get airfare between European countries for
the price of a sandwich! But with its cheap prices comes
extra hoops to jump though. Their intricate fine print
can trip-up even the most-seasoned flyer.
4. Double-Check Your Luggage Weight
It can cost you upwards of 20 Euro to check one
15 kilogram bag, and if you go over the weight
limit, they charge you by the kilo. If you’re using
Ryanair as a means to continue a Eurotrip, be
sure to consider your budget to see if the baggage
fee, in addition to the ticket, is still worth it. If
you are studying or living abroad, just bring a
small backpack with you and use Ryanair for a
weekend adventure.
Savings tip: it’s always cheaper to pay for bags
online. Make sure your hand luggage fits
Ryanair’s baggage regulations, because if it
doesn’t, it’ll cost you your first-born child to get
it on the plane.
Here are tips to save a bundle and still have a smooth
experience with Ryanair:
5. Leave Ample Time to “Connect.”
“Connecting” on Ryanair flights is tedious. You
deplane, leave the secure area, circle back around
to the check-in desk, and then repeat the process
from your first flight with a new boarding pass
on a new piece of paper. Leave yourself at least
four hours if you choose to do this, but know that
Ryanair does not guarantee you will arrive on
time and if they cause you to miss your second
flight, they are technically not at fault.
1. Don’t Be on Time, BE EARLY.
When Ryanair says check-in closes 40 minutes
before departure, they mean it. Make sure you
arrive at the airport well before this deadline.
Their 30 minute boarding cut off is somewhat
less strict. As long as you’re in the line, even if
the actual time for boarding has passed, you
should be fine.
2. Watch Airport Names When You Book.
On the Ryanair website, sometimes airports
in different cities have similar names, and it is
easy to mistype your own name or misclick a
date on the drop-down calendar. There is a fee
to fix these little mistakes—so make sure your
information is correctly entered the first time.
Also, Ryanair is a point-to-point airline, meaning
that even though they fly from Rome to Madrid,
and Madrid to Marrakech, it does not mean that
you can use them to get from Rome to Marrakech.
6. Print Your Pass.
You can check in for Ryanair flights starting
two weeks before take-off, but the deadline is
four hours before. You still have plenty of time
to plan. Ask the front desk of your hostel to print
your boarding pass, or find a local library. If you
don’t check in on online, there’s a fee—a big one.
Ryanair destinations also tend to be smaller
airports, and these airports are often a bit of
an inconvenient commute from the city center.
Make sure you’re aware of where the airport is
before you book!
If you don’t print your boarding pass before you
get to the airport, there’s a fee—slightly smaller,
but still annoying. Following the instructions in
the emails you receive leading up to your flight
will ensure you avoid these fees!
A $30 ticket to Paris could be a good idea, but
Beauvais Airport is a 90-minute, 17 Euro bus-ride
from a not-so-central stop in Paris. Depending
on your budget, this could still be worth it—but
always Google map the airport and weigh the
time you have in the city, just to be sure.
5
Getting Free Flights with Mileage Credit
Cards
Booking with American Airlines Miles—
How to Save Hundreds on Fees
Yes, it’s possible to get overseas flights free or nearly
free. Although we do find occasional next-to-nothing
prices, the most dependable way to get a nearly-free
flight is to book using airline miles.
We should say here that travel credit cards have saved
us significant flight money in recent years. However,
you should only apply for a travel credit card if you have
good spending habits and pay the card off every month.
Otherwise, the interest will offset any travel mileage
rewards.
We recently booked what we thought would be free
overseas tickets. Imagine our surprise when reserving
tickets to France and Switzerland resulted in almost
$500 in airline fees. Then we found out how to fix that
You can often earn 30K – 50K airline miles just by
signing up for a credit card and making a minimum
purchase amount within the first three months.
(Often $1,000 - $3,000). This is enough miles to often
purchase an entire round-trip ticket to Europe on off
season or shoulder season.
Find the journey with the least number of British
Airways flights.
When you redeem American Airlines miles for an overseas
flight, any codeshare (shared) flight on British Airways
will add a huge fuel surcharge. (Sometimes airlines have
partnerships with other airlines. You can book with
American, but still fly a leg of the flight on another airline
they have an agreement with, such as British Airways.)
Credit card companies often run promotions, and the exact
mileage offering changes from year to year.
We unchecked the British Airways flight box, and the only
flights that were left were ones without that fuel surcharge.
Our flight from the US to Paris went from $300 to $5!
Things to look out for with mileage credit cards:
1.
Watch out for the annual fee. They usually waive
it the first year, but a few cards have annual fees
upwards $400!
2.
Make sure the card supports miles on the airline you
want to fly.
3.
If the card gives points, check the conversion rate of
points to miles for your preferred airline.
Our strategy for purchasing with miles:
1. For a spring flight to Europe, we get the credit card
in the fall the year before (August through October).
This gives us plenty of time to get any extra miles if
we need them.
2. We save a major purchase until right after we apply
Tips to Save in Fees Flying to Europe with American
Airlines Miles
for the card. Then we use the card for that purchase.
For instance, say you need to purchase software for
$2,000. Apply for the card and then purchase the
software with the card. It will help significantly in
meeting the minimum purchase amount for the
bonus mileage.
Try your initial journey without British Airways
flights
Look at nearby airport options. For instance,
London and Paris both have airports, and they
may have different codeshare flights available.
Lists of Current Mileage Cards:
http://www.creditcards.com/airline-miles.php
Keep checking back for flights to open up - there were
few options when we checked on Friday, but several
better opened up the next day.
Discussion forum on cards:
h t t p: // w w w. f l y e r t a l k . c o m / f o r u m / c r e d i t - c a r d programs/1475783-citi-aa-credit-cards-best-offers-now50k-read-wikipost-first.html
If you have an American Airlines credit card such as
Citi AAdvantage, ask an AA sales support rep about
reduced mileage award if you book over the phone.
You sometimes get a mileage discount for this.
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