As if traveling during the holidays wasn’t stressful enough, with the economy still at a standstill airline fares are higher than ever. Many airline companies run promotions in the weeks leading up to the holiday season, but if you missed your shot, there are still a few options to consider. Below are five strategies you can use to find a killer fare for your holiday getaway.
Try a Trade
Chances are you aren’t the only one in a travelling bind. Check local commerce sites, or even general travel bartering sites for people looking to sell or trade their airfares. Some people are willing to trade miles for cash; others might have booked a flight they now no longer need. You may be able to find a killer deal helping someone else unload unneeded tickets. And isn’t the holiday season all about helping your fellow man?
Consider Smaller Airports
Did you know that most major cities have a smaller, regional airport? Considering the fact that most major airports are outside the city anyway, it’s often worth the cheaper fare to fly into these smaller hubs. The fares are often cheaper because the airport itself charges the airline less money to fly in and out from its runways. You won’t always find these regional airports on those big aggregate travel sites though, as they are usually only serviced by smaller budget airlines, so check on their official website or call a travel company directly for more information.
Check Social Media
Many airlines and travel companies host several promotions available only via Facebook or Twitter. Others will post a coupon code for a limited amount of time. Start following every company that services your destination. You can even set up email alerts for certain keywords, such as “Jamaica” or “promotion” to filter out the rest of the social buzz. Additionally, there are many message boards dedicated solely to travel where seasoned pros share their tips and codes for getting the best fare. Don’t be shy; make an account, introduce yourself, and share your desired itinerary. Frequent flier members often have access to special promotions they may be able to share.
Consult Your Crystal Ball
Nowadays airline fares change so rapidly it may seem impossible when a fare will drop, but this is not necessarily true. There are many sites on the web dedicated to predicting fares based on a number of factors including historic price increases and decreases, as well as new routes opening up and prices wars between competing airlines. It’s possible that the outrageous fare you pulled up yesterday will drop several hundred dollars after the weekend is over. Check out a fare predictor to get the inside scoop and decide if it’s worth the risk to wait it out.
Call in a Professional
When all else fails, it’s time to call in the big guns. Professional travel agents may seem like an antiquity in this modern age, but there are some things a computer or aggregate site just can’t do.
For example, since different airports charge airlines different fees for the privilege of taking off and landing on their runways, the price to fly to New York from, say, Dallas-Fort Worth International airport might be substantially different than the price from Dallas Love Field. The two airports are within half an hour from each other, and any travel agent worth his or her weight will be able to tell you which airport is better for your trip, no matter the destination.
If you don’t want to commit to using a travel agent, you may have luck calling your desired airline directly. Many times the customer service representatives at major airlines can offer previously undisclosed discounts or suggest a cheaper itinerary. In this case, it definitely pays to be flexible.
Just because you missed out on a killer fare doesn’t mean you’re resigned to paying exorbitant prices for your holiday vacation. With a little persistence, a little luck, and the right strategy, you can find a way to reach your destination without breaking the bank. Who knows, you might save enough money to afford one last present for a special someone!