Between the surges in airfare and hotel rates this year, it’s no wonder so many consumers are planning to stay close to home. We tapped George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, to weigh in on where consumers are missing the boat.
“With airline consolidation, consumers need to rethink what a low airfare is. That $199 round-trip sale fare from New York to LA is now a $199 one-way sale fare,” Hobica says. “Airfares fluctuate like the stock market, check them every day—or better yet, several times a day—if you’re serious about saving money.”
Here are five of the best ways he says consumers can save:
Stalk fares. Airlines can update domestic fares three times a day during the week, and once on Saturdays and Sundays (international fares tend not to change as often, but can be updated up to five times daily). Also, even if the fare itself doesn’t change, seat availability at the lowest fare can. There may be just one seat available at 10 a.m., but the airline could open up more cheap seats later in the day.
Try a flexible fare search. Sometimes you can save hundreds by adjusting your travel dates. Travelocity will search most domestic airfares and many international ones over a 330-day search period. Meanwhile, Hotwire and Orbitz cover nearly all routes from the U.S., but only over 30-day periods.
Don’t forget to search the airlines’ sites. Some airlines have private sales, reserving their very best airfares for their own websites. These are different from promo code fares. Airfarewatchdog fare searchers often find lower fares on JetBlue.com, even without discounts.
Use Tingo to book hotel stays. Tingo automatically refunds travellers when their hotel drops its price after they book.
Combine two separate fares rather than buying one. If you’re flying to a destination in Europe, you might save money by purchasing one fare from the US to, say, Dublin, and another from Dublin onward. The same holds true for some destinations in Asia (fly into Singapore and catch a low-cost carrier from there) and to some smaller Caribbean destinations via San Juan or the Bahamas.
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