Airfares Are Going Up, Up, Up–But You Can Pay Less

Much of the current travel news is about increasing airfares. Savvy travel consumers will continue to save money in this environment. I want you to be a savvy travel consumer.

The news is like Chicken Little running amok yelling the sky is falling. Wow, the sky falling would be really bad for air travel.

Don’t be frustrated. Don’t believe the hype. You can spend LESS on airfares.find cheaper airfares

Here are some resources to find current airfare deals:

  • Be Flexible. Being flexible is my number one rule for getting the best deal on all aspects of travel. Yes, many airfares are increasing but there will be airfare deals. Flexible travelers will find cheap airfares.

  • Small Carriers. Sure, the big dudes will certainly raise most of their fares but the smaller guys might not. Smaller carriers are the ones to push buttons and force bigger carriers to react.

  • Frequent Flyer Awards. Airlines have also increased fees to redeem frequent flyer awards but they can still be good deals. Yesterday, I found last-minute award travel between DC and Honolulu in March for 35,000 points and $110 ($100 booking fee and $10 taxes). The same seat costs almost $1,000.

  • Don’t Fly. Yes, I said it. If you do not have to fly, then don’t fly. Take an air travel sabbatical. Make it a great time to explore closer to home. Take road trip vacations. Stick it to the air travel industry by not paying for their crappy service.

  • Save Elsewhere. I recently read in Tim Ferriss‘ book to not try to make back lost money the same way. If you lose money on one investment (airfares, in this scenario), then try extra hard to make more money in a different area. If you must fly and pay more than usual, save money with a car rental deal, cheaper lodging, or less expensive dining. Maybe it is a good time to try house swapping?

Here are some resources to find current airfare deals:

  • create airfare alerts with your favorite booking engine (like Kayak and Travelocity). They will send you an e-mail message with current airfares for your preferred destination(s).

  • use airfarewatchdog to see the current airfare deals from or to your preferred destination. For instance, I can view all of the current airfare deals from Washington, DC airports. I can also view all of the current airfare deals to Honolulu. If I see a great fare from another airport (Las Vegas, for example), then I can use my split ticketing strategy to save money.

  • Travelzoo publishes a Top 20 deal list every Wednesday at noon (eastern US time). The Top 20 list has incredible deals, including packages, vacations, lodging, and airfares.

  • I love trolling the FlyerTalk message boards for airfare deals found by passionate frequent travelers. I often see deals announced on FlyerTalk (particularly in the Mileage Run forum) before any other source. If you really want to be an airfare guru, master the Trick It thread (currently 658 pages of cryptic but phenomenally valuable tips).

*** By the way, here are a few of the current airfare increase articles: APBoston Globe, Jenkins, McGinnis

Also see McCoolTravel.com‘s previous 8 Great article on getting cheap airfares.


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9 Responses to “Airfares Are Going Up, Up, Up–But You Can Pay Less”

  1. chris March 3, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Hey Charles: Great article and thanks for the link. My take: Yes, of course there will always be “deals” if you are willing to fly when the AIRLINES want you to fly (off peak, red eye, shoulder season,new route, etc). But if you fly when YOU want to fly (like July or August or Sunday afternoon), deals on sites like travelzoo or social media flash sales tend to dry up.

    • McCool Travel March 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thank you very much for the comment, Chris. I completely agree and that is the essence of being flexible to get travel deals. I want to educate consumers to be flexible to find travel deals when most of the news is increasing airfares.

  2. Donna Hull March 3, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Great advice and an excellent list of resources to help you save money on flights. Also, after researching flights at sites like Kayak (my favorite), once you’ve found a possible flight, visit the actual airline site to see if fares are any lower, I’ve found bargains that way. Flyer Talk is a great resource but I get lost in all of the acronyms.

    • McCool Travel March 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Thank you for the comment, Donna. Indeed, I tell people to always book through the airline when the price is the same (or lower!). That eliminates the layer of communication where reservation problems most often occur.

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