Here are The Traveling Professor's airline tips you probably never heard of before:
Buy the Middle Seat: Tired of traveling to Europe or South America crammed into a seat like a sardine, especially in a 3-across configuration? Do what I did on my recent trip to Europe. I bought the middle seat. My travel partner took the window seat and I took the aisle. Plenty of room and much cheaper than buying a Premium Economy or Business Class ticket. Why does this work? Let's do the math. Two round trip economy seats between New York and Madrid on American Airlines are $485 each. That's $970 for 2 seats. Each Premium Economy seat is $987 on the same flight. That's $1974. Now purchase three economy seats for a total of $1455. But wait - it is usually less to purchase an unoccupied seat since less taxes are applied on an unoccupied seat. And even better, on my last trip, I redeemed my middle seat with award miles.
Buy Airline Tickets with a Travel Credit Card: Preferably one that provides travel insurance, preferred boarding, and no checked luggage fees. Some even have benefits like reduced mileage awards and lounge access.
Buy Directly from the Airline: Avoid using websites like Orbitz, Expedia or any other third-party booking sites to buy airline tickets. When there is a problem (cancelled flights, overbooking, time changes, delays) those purchasing from third-party sites are taken care of last - if at all. When there are problems with a flight, the airline will often tell flyers to go back to the site where they bought the ticket from - and good luck when trying to resolve a problem through one of those on-line booking sites.
Go Indirect: Whoever can figure out the logic an airline uses when figuring out ticketing prices should be nominated for some type of prize. In any case, look at connecting through a city to get to a destination to find significantly lower fares. For instance, I have a choice of flying out of New York, Boston, Hartford or Albany. I priced a direct R/T flight between JFK and Paris CDG at over $1,000. However, if I initiated my flight in Boston, which connected with the same $1,000 flight at JFK, it was hundreds of dollars less.
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