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Archive for Sunday, June 22, 2008

Comparing airline rates key to getting best price

June 22, 2008

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United Airlines first class passengers check in at San Francisco International Airport in this June 4 file photo. Comparing rates of as many airlines as possible is one way to save money on flights this summer.

United Airlines first class passengers check in at San Francisco International Airport in this June 4 file photo. Comparing rates of as many airlines as possible is one way to save money on flights this summer.

This summer don't be surprised if your airline ticket causes sticker shock. The high cost of oil has driven up fares, in some cases two and even three times what they were just one year ago.

If you are planning on flying this summer, you can always reconsider your plans. But if that's not an option, find a way to get a better rate.

Here are three ideas to save on your flight:

¢ Compare your rates. One way to get the best possible rate is to compare as many as possible. Have a look at three or four travel Web sites. One site, Kayak.com, compiles the results of over 100 other travel sites and selects the best possible fare from those. You can also pick up the phone and call some local travel agents. In some cases, travel agents may be able to get you a lower rate than the one found on the Web.

¢ Fly on optimal days. If you can plan your trip so you fly midweek, you'll often get a lower fare. Tuesday and Wednesday typically are the cheapest days to fly, while the weekend is usually more expensive. Plan your trips from Wednesday to Wednesday, rather than Saturday to Saturday.

¢ Buy your tickets in the morning. If you're buying your tickets online, the best time to buy is in the morning. The name of the airlines' game is filling seats. As seats fill up, fares increase. The industry standard is to re-price fares three times a day, so if you buy early before seats have filled, you will get a lower rate.

If you have some flexibility with your plans, consider flying to locations that aren't that popular in the summer. Maybe you won't end up at the beach of your dreams, but it may still be a beach - and you won't break the bank getting there.

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