How to Get the Best Deals
Let’s start with the worst way. The pricing of international flights is controlled by a body called IATA and their rule is that airlines cannot discount prices directly to customers. In the domestic US market, the airlines were deregulated in 1978 and, in theory, airlines are allowed to discount their fares to compete with travel agents. But, in practice, they prefer to maintain the full price. There are two reasons for this. The first and most obvious is that airlines have not been doing too well of late and need all the revenue they can get. Keeping their prices high helps the bottom line. Secondly, if they compete with the travel agents, the agents have less incentive to push the tickets of airlines that take their business. So, the place you are least likely to find a good deal is buying directly from an airline, both for a domestic and an international flight. But keep on eye on the local press and for internet offers. Airlines do sometimes run promotional offers in the low season on less popular routes which can be attractive.
The best chance of finding low prices comes in two stages. To get round the IATA rule, airlines sell tickets in bulk to consolidators who act as wholesalers, selling to retail at a discount. If you can identify a consolidator and buy direct, you will get the lowest price. But they limit their direct sales, preferring to keep their retail buyers happy. Thus, the most consistent discounts are available from the authorised agents who buy their tickets from the consolidators. That means it is always worth shopping around to find which agents still have discounted tickets available for sale. Remember we are not talking about excursions or package holidays using chartered aircraft. These are seats on scheduled flights. The largest discounts come on the international flights. Domestic flights have lower operating margins so always have lower discounts.
Now comes the standard warning. The price offered through the retail trade changes by the hour depending on the speed at which seats are selling on any particular flight. So any travel agent who advertises a guarantee of the best or cheapest price is being dishonest. All an agent can promise is cheap airline tickets, i.e. a price less than the airline’s retail price. How cheap is a matter of luck in finding an agent who still has seats to sell at a good price. That means you have to invest time in searching the sites over a number of days to see how the prices are moving. If you are buying months in advance, try to book as soon as the tickets come on to the market. If you miss that window the prices will stabilise, so wait until you get closer to departure time and then try again. There will be cheap airline tickets but you have to be patient.
For other highly informative insights on numerous topics from Terry Willson visit http://www.farespal.com/how-to-get-the-best-deals.html. Terry Willson is a professional journalist with 15 years of experience delivering news to the public.
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