Here are valuable tips from The Traveling Professor on what to consider before buying international airline tickets.
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.
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 a Cheaper Ticket on a Tuesday or Thursday: Don't listen to this. It's not true. But what is true is that the best time to purchase international airfare is about 3 months before departure.
One-Way Fares Can Be More Expensive than Round Trip Fares: A one-way coach fare on American Airlines from New York's JFK to Paris CDG on flight #44 on June 4 is $3358.70. Add a non-stop return leg on June 11 and the fare is $732.33. This sometimes does not apply to discount airlines, but in almost all cases, it applies to legacy carriers like American, Delta, British Airways and United.
Make a Connection: Try booking a direct flight from JFK to Peru LIM (Lima) departing May 6 and returning May 13. The direct flight will cost $866. Then try booking it out of LGA (New York LaGuardia), about 11 miles away. The flight connects in Miami but costs $635. That puts $231 in your pocket. An American Airline flight on the same dates direct from PHL to Munich (MUC) costs a whopping $1369. Fly out of Boston and it goes down to $628. That saves $741.
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