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Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket
Follow our step-by-step process for finding the lowest available price for your next airline ticket purchase!
Did you pay more than you wanted for your last airplane flight? Most people do, thanks to the wily pricing techniques of the airline industry. But industry expert and blogger Sam Sellers can help you find the cheapest available fare by searching the most effective Web sites in the right order. So whether your next trip is for business or pleasure, follow Sam's advice to fly the route you want for a fare you can afford.
Obsolete? Although some of the material in this ebook remains reasonably current, we do not plan to offer any future updates, either on the "Check for Updates" Web page or in a new PDF. The "Check for Updates" Web page associated with the PDF does have minor update information on it, but it is not being maintained regularly or seriously. The ebook itself was released in May 2007.
This book covers domestic and international travel originating in the United States; the specifics in other countries vary too much to make accurate recommendations. Click the FAQ tab below for more information.
You'll also find advice for reserving a good seat and preparing for low-hassle travel, as well as information on using frequent flyer miles, credit cards that provide flight discounts, and recommended methods for tracking deals. Appendixes provide links to major airline home pages and flight-route maps, an explanation of the pesky taxes applied to your fare, and more.
Read this book to learn the answers to questions such as:
"Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket is well written and easy to understand, with plenty of tips to save you money on your next trip. I highly recommend it to anyone who flies."
-Richard Geiger, AAUG Member
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About the Author
Sam Sellers has been covering the airline industry with news and commentary in his blog, Airline Bulletin, since 2004.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Rising fuel costs and increased competition have made an inexpensive airline ticket hard to find, but you can take control of booking a cheap ticket with this detailed guide that covers domestic and international flights, loyalty programs, and package deals. This book was written by Sam Sellers, edited by Don Sellers, and published by TidBITS Electronic Publishing.
Perhaps you need to take a quick business trip. Maybe you're planning that once-in-a-lifetime European vacation. For whatever reason, you need to purchase an airline ticket, and you don't want to overpay.
Ticket prices have risen with the price of fuel, and airlines have become more and more sophisticated in their pricing strategies, squeezing the last penny from the bargain hunter. At the same time, an increasing number of sources—most of them on the Web—now sell tickets, making the search for the best deal more vexing.
Ticket prices have risen with the price of fuel, and airlines have developed increasingly sophisticated pricing strategies, squeezing the last penny from travelers. At the same time, an increasing number of sources—most of them on the Web—now sell tickets, making the search for the best deal more vexing. In this book, I take you through the process of booking a cheap airline ticket. I cover only coach (otherwise known as economy) tickets, for flights within—or originating from—the United States.
I first have you look inward, to determine your flexibility in areas such as comfort, travel dates, and alternate airports—and I explain how each can be critical to saving money. I then offer three main purchasing procedures: Book Domestic More than 2 Weeks Out, Book Domestic Less than 2 Weeks Out, and Book International.
I also include the best strategies to help you purchase package deals (booking a car or hotel along with a flight). And, if you can wait to buy, I show you how to turn your time into money: I provide expert assistance in booking "free tickets," tickets obtained through airline frequent flyer programs or credit-card reward programs. I give advice on how to select the right frequent flyer program or reward credit card, and how to wrest maximum benefit from your miles and points. Finally, I provide methods to fly right—travel tips from reserving a great seat to finding public transportation—to make your trip cheap and easy.
In the coming years, airlines will transport record amounts of passengers. By taking the steps outlined in this book, you can maximize travel value, while minimizing travel-related stress.
To lock in the right airline ticket at the right price, you need to know yourself, as well as the array of resources available on and off the Internet. Since the procedures suggested in this book vary depending on your needs, use the guide below to fly to your area of interest.
Determine what kind of buyer you are:
Buy your ticket:
Take advantage of loyalty programs:
Make your flight right:
Yes. Much as we'd like to include everyone, covering other countries is out of scope for this version of this book.
Several people have written in to ask if the book will work for Canadians.
Here is Sam's reply: On the one hand, I hesitate to recommend the book to Canadians because several of the primary resources in the book apply only to those in the United States. And, Canadians don't have as many opportunities to save due to the lack of competition, particularly for domestic flights on the many routes where there's a duopoly with WestJet and Air Canada—both airlines have kept fares high on domestic flights after Jetsgo liquidated, and that won't change soon.
On the other hand, many resources noted in the book can be useful to Canadians. And, if most of your travel involves flights to the United States, then the book will be helpful, since there is more competition on these routes and I discuss how to exploit this for your benefit.
John W.—who resides in New Zealand—wrote in to ask, "Will any of the sites mentioned in the book allow me to purchase tickets using a credit card that has not been issued by an American bank? This is a thorn in the flesh for those of us living in other parts of the world, but visiting North America sufficiently often to make an Internet flight reservation expeditious."
Here is Sam's reply: The book doesn't mention whether or not a particular travel site will accept a non-U.S. based credit cards. Most general travel sites—such as Priceline, Travelocity, and Hotwire—accept credit cards only with U.S. billing addresses. However, many airlines accept cards with foreign billing addresses, although in different ways:
Many of the methods outlined in the book probably won't work for you, because of the credit card problem.
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Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
December 20, 2007 -- We've decided not to update the PDF for this ebook again, so there won't be a new version from TidBITS Publishing. However, it is possible that Sam will decide to update the book on his own. If that happens, we'll post info about the new title here.
October 25, 2011 --
A press release for a new Arab Aviation Web site arrived in my email recently. The site has a clean, helpful, intelligent look to it, so I wanted to pass the information along to anyone reading this blog who travels to and from Arab countries. The press release says, "We are pleased to launch our web portal arabavia.com, containing aviation and airline information and news, covering country, airline and MRO briefs, details on over 35,000 airports/aerodromes worldwide, all safety related occurrences in the Arab region, who's who, services directory (over 4,500 firms), airline statistic, job postings and aircraft exchange platform, and other features."
[Reader Jim K. wrote in February 2012 to let me know that the link (previously) given above was leading to an unexpected Web page. I checked it out, and I believe that the correct link is now http://arabaviation.com/. I am not 100% sure that this new link goes to the same site that the old one did, but it does look like a helpful site for learning about the airline industry in Arab countries. —Tonya]
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