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How Do I Find the Best Deals on Flights?

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by Robert Nickel

This is probably one of the most asked questions in the travel industry. There are so many different fares available that often taking the time and effort to find the best deal can save you hundreds of dollars. Of course, it is not always easy to find the best deals. There are many factors that decide the fare that you get and a lot of it has to do with timing. To be able to get the best fare, it is helpful to know and understand what these factors are. Here's a brief overview that will hopefully make you a fantastic airfare shopper.

Understanding Availability and Fares

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to getting the best fare is availability. An airline will always try to fly with as many seats sold on a particular flight. In order to achieve this, fares are segmented into different fare levels. This doesn't necessarily refer to the difference between executive and economy class. In economy class, you could get as many as 10 differently priced fares for the same flight. The way that airlines do this is that they have, for example, 10 seats at the lowest fare, 10 seats at the next highest fare and so on. As the cheaper seats are sold and the aircraft starts to fill up, the airline sells the higher-priced seats. Therefore, to get a good fare, logic dictates that you need to book well in advance. This is the case most of the time. But it also doesn't make sense for an airline to fly with a half-empty plane. If they see that a flight is not filling up then they may decide to discount fares at the last minute in order to get them sold. It is more profitable for airlines to sell seats for cheaper than to have empty seats. From this, you need to understand that the fare you can get at any given time will depend on the seat availability of a flight.

Dates and Flexibility

Because of the way availability works, if you are looking to get a good deal then it's helpful to be flexible on your dates and flying times. The more flexible you are, in other words if you can fly a day earlier or later, the more likely you are to find a cheaper fare. If, on the other hand, you absolutely have to travel at a certain time or on a certain date then your options are more limited. You will then simply have to accept the fare that the airline gives you. If you are doing a search for flights online, keep your options open. You can never tell which dates will be booked up more than another. Instead, have several dates and fares to choose from. In that way, you can make sure you are getting the best deal on your flights.

Taking the Opportunities

With online flight bookings, you need to be willing to take the opportunities when presented. It is not possible to simply reserve seats and then keep them for a number of days before you actually confirm and pay for them. It is fine when you are making initial inquiries to do a search and see what fares are available. This will give you some sort of idea as to what your budget should be. You need to keep in mind though that online airfares work in real-time availability. What real-time availability means is that airfares are only guaranteed once the seats have been reserved and paid for. Until you have a booking confirmation with a reference number, the fare can change. The reason for this is that at any given time, there are millions of people across the globe online inquiring about and booking flights. When you see a good deal on flights that you know is much cheaper than what you have seen before, you need to be willing to take action and secure the tickets right away. Great deals on flights can pop up at any time. Taking the opportunities will ensure that you get the best deals available.

Comparing Options

The great thing about booking flights online is that you can compare various options. You can log onto various airline websites and search their schedules and airfares. Another way to get the best deals is to go to a travel portal. These websites often have flights from a wide variety of airlines. Often, you can compare flight times and airfares without having to switch between different websites. These travel companies regularly have great deals that you won't be able to get elsewhere.

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