Land a deal on your next trip

These days, airfares are a constantly moving target. When it comes to landing the best deals, knowing how the game works will make you a savvier shopper.

Discount airlines don’t always mean the lowest fares. While low cost carriers can bring big savings, they don’t always offer the lowest fares. When you’re comparing prices, don’t forget to check out the airline’s individual web site. At times the airline’s web site offer even better deals than the discount sites.

Don’t forget to calculate fees and taxes. Before you book, make sure your air fare includes all fees and taxes. If your fare does not include fees and taxes, you may not actually be booking the least expensive airfare.

While fees and taxes have always been part of the cost for air travel, airline and government-imposed charges have escalated in recent years, particularly on overseas journeys. Fuel surcharges and security fees have made airline travel more expensive and sometimes can add up to more than the cost of your base ticket price.

Consider flying out of another airport. Sometimes the nearest airport does ot offer the lowest fares. Be sure to check the rates at alternative airports. Depending on the fare, it may be worth it to travel an extra hour to the airport to save hundreds of dollars.

Fees vary by web site. The popular travel web sites don’t offer the same fares. Each site negotiates deals with specific carriers and often have exclusive deals. Be sure to check the major travel web sites as well as individual carrier sites.

Airfares are a constantly moving target, with rates changing as much as several times a day. Ticket sales don’t usually last long. If you want to find the best deals, you’ll have to shop around.

Is your computer preventing you from getting the latest rates? Most web sites use cookies, which are text files placed on your hard drive by a web page server. They are used to tell the server that you have returned to a specific page and to retrieve information about you. This simplifies the process of recording personal information, such as billing addresses, but it also tracks the results you were viewing.

This means that if you’re checking fares and you return to a previously visited web site, the fare search engine may return the same results you viewed earlier rather than the new results, because of the cookies.

You can get around this by clearing the cookies on your Internet browser each time you do a search.

Ask for the cheapest fare. If you are phoning the airline directly for your tickets, ask for the cheapest fare, not just the fare for coach. There could, in fact, be a cheaper fare in a better seat.

Fly on off days. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday are considered off days (unless it’s near a holiday). If you can fly on those days, you’ll be more likely to find a less expensive flight.

Red-eye flights can mean real savings. Red-eye flights don’t sell out as quickly as other flights and therefore may have cheaper fares. While the red-eye isn’t the first choice of many travellers, on the other hand, it offers you an opportunity to sleep through the entire flight. And if you go with a red-eye flight on an off day, you may find a real deal.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Ingvald kaldhussæter

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