Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding the Cheapest Flights

There is no golden rule to finding the cheapest flight available, but there are some things you can do to prevent yourself from being totally ripped off.
So the age long question "is it cheaper to buy on the internet or through an agent"?
Only you have the answer, generally agents will have a fee for their services, and rightly so, after all are they not doing you a service? So we book through agents when we want a little extra security that if something happens like you need to cancel for some unforeseeable reason, or you get stuck abroad, your agent should be your first point of contact, and if you have paid for the service, then don't let them wangle their way out of assisting you, as time and time again I hear of these situations. 
Your agent should also be helping you with insurance claims, the right advice when travelling to certain destinations, what you are entitled to and who you can contact locally. Make life easier for yourself though and get all the facts. Ask a few questions, for example;
Is my flight changeable or upgradable? And at what cost! If I cancel for an unforeseeable reason, will the airline refund me? What is the cancellation fee? How many kilos can I take on this airline (believe me they can change with each airline)?
Get Insured! And make sure you ask questions like; Am I insured for white water rafting, or bungy jumping? However, the sport doesn't have to be extreme to miss the insurance list of cover, so make sure, even when trekking in high altitude you are covered.
Am I covered in Natural Disasters, Terrorism, Hijacking, or Strikes?
If you're going to use an agent, then USE your agent! And feel satisfied when walking away knowing you have probably paid them 10% for good information and service.
Booking over the internet. Personally, having been an agent before, I know what I'm getting, and what I'm not getting by booking over the internet. Sure it's a pain having to do the hard work yourself, but calling an airline really isn't as bad as we all think. 
Use a good website like webjet or browse a few airlines directly you know travel to your destination. It may take some time, but you will certainly find whoever is offering the cheapest flight at the time, by doing your homework. There isn't that nasty agent fee, and you get your tickets pretty much instantly. Most agents are getting these prices anyway, and if anything are offering only a few dollars off, is it worth it?
Vital tips!
o Majority of overall bookings made within the exit country, will be cheaper than calling an agent in the destination or another country and asking the price of a return flight. Most times, the agent outside of the country you are travelling from can only get gross fare prices. At least an agent inside the country you are leaving from can break down these fares to net, so take a BIG tip, and forget asking an outside source, it's probably going waste his or her time and your own.
o Another question I hear all the time is, "should I wait until later or should I buy now" OK so this is a difficult one, I cannot guarantee you if you book now you will pay less than booking further down the track, no one can foretell future specials, not even agents! But, if you keep in mind, most airlines will release flights 10 months in advance of your travel date. 
If you are travelling at a peak time, for example June to Europe or September/October to Nepal, then I would advise buying as soon as the flights become available, they are only going to sell out, even if specials come along, it will be very hard to guarantee yourself a place in the booking order. You are probably only going to save 50 to 100 dollars anyway, and suffer stress while waiting and hoping. Specials will usually come out off peak as a general rule anyway, so don't hold your breath!
o When travelling to ANYWHERE, peak times are pretty much late November through to January. Also anywhere it is SUMMER at the time you're going, or holiday seasons, including winter sport countries like Canada!
Remember, the more research you put into it, the better you will be in the end. Don't procrastinate on a cheap flight, you lose it, tax goes up, classes sell out very quickly, and before you know it your paying 500 dollars more. Always remember you certainly aren't the only person booking this flight!
Happy travels.
Jenny Lama
D'Tours Original - Original People, Original Tours


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