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Don't Buy Airline Tickets Until You Read This

Don't Buy Airline Tickets Until You Read This

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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