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FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 1/4 [Monthly posting]
Section - [1-1b] Advance Purchase Fares

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 1/4 [Monthly posting]
Previous Document: [1-1a] Standard Tricks: Advance Booking Discounts
Next Document: [1-2] Nested/Overlapping Tickets Strategy
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[Note: This section to be merged into preceding section.]

   Typically, tickets must be purchased 4, 7, 14, 21, or 30 days
in advance of the departure date. All require confirmed reservations.
Seats are always limited. Most do not permit changes/cancellations,
and those that do will usually charge you.
   
   Some require a roundtrip ticket, though there are some that
give lower rates for one-way tickets. Most do not permit open-jaw
travel (most require circle-trip for excursion fares). Some permit
stopovers, and may or may not charge you for the privilege (typically
$15-30 per stopover). Fares are often seasonal.

   For those that have a minimum and maximum stay period (e.g.,
stay over the weekend, must return 150 days after departure), the day
of departure is not included as part of the minimum and maximum stay period.

   Children's rates are usually discounted against the applicable
fare. (Some airlines now apply children's discounts against the
highest fare only.) As usual, children must carry proof of age.

   Note that fares are almost always not applicable to/from
intermediate points. This means a ticket from Boston to Chicago
passing through Pittsburgh could be cheaper than a ticket from Boston
to Pittsburgh! But, of course, you can get off at Pittsburgh so long
as you don't have checked bags nor have subsequent legs on the same
ticket.

   Use the same carrier and flight class for all segments of your
itinerary. Changing airlines usually adds to the cost of your trip.
But sometimes you may be able to get a dirt cheap fare on one
airline to an airport 150 miles or so from your destination, and then
use another airline to get to your final destination. (This most often
happens when the first airline has no direct flights to your final
destination.) 

   Sometimes fares which involve a connection are cheaper than direct
flights. So if all the fares are non-stop, ask if flights that involve
a connection are cheaper. For example, flights from Pittsburgh to
Boston on TWA are often cheaper than flights on USAir, because USAir
offers non-stop service while TWA flights are routed through their JFK hub.

Other tips:

   +  If all the fares are on one airline, ask your travel agent if
      there are cheaper fares on other airlines. Be prepared to ask
      for specific airlines. Don't run down a list of a dozen
      airlines, but ask for two or three. If all show similar lowest
      fares, you aren't likely to do better on another airline.
      (Obviously, this advice doesn't apply if you're calling the
       airlines directly. If so, call 2-3 airlines before purchasing tickets.)

   +  If there are two airports near where you live (e.g., Washington
      DC, New York), ask if fares from the other airport are cheaper.
      It may pay to drive 40 miles to save $100 on airfare.

   +  If you qualify for special discounts (youth, student, senior
      citizen, etc.) ask about the availability of such discounts. If
      you don't ask, they won't volunteer the information -- how are
      they to know whether you qualify?

   +  Tickets are generally cheapest for travel in late August and
      from March (excluding Spring Break) through mid-June, when air
      traffic is the lowest. Of course, this rule of thumb depends a
      lot on the destination, since some destinations have strong
      traffic year-round.

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 1/4 [Monthly posting]
Previous Document: [1-1a] Standard Tricks: Advance Booking Discounts
Next Document: [1-2] Nested/Overlapping Tickets Strategy

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM