We get so many visitors to Family Travel Magazine that are wondering how to get the best airfare deals. Travelers have heard things like “Book on Tuesdays” and “Book at lunchtime”, but those tricks don’t usually work. This week, I set out to book the best price possible for a multi-city trip – and actually put some of the tools that I like to use to the test. Here’s how it worked:
My trip is from Boston to Buffalo, then Rochester to Boston, so it isn’t a traditional round-trip flight. I started by visiting AmericanExpress.com, which usually does a great job of offering airfare deals from most of the different airlines (excluding Southwest, which you can only book on Southwest.com). I found that I could get a great rate of less than $200 on United, but I’d have connections, so I decided to keep looking.
My next stop was Yapta.com, which also tracks airfare rates. It’s a great tool to use if you aren’t necessarily ready to purchase. But my flight is in just over a month, so I don’t have much time to track it. Yapta.com helped me find the best price on direct flights – $258 total. Yapta helps you compare airfare deals, but then forwards you to the airline’s website to book.
Once I got to USAirways.com, I realized that I probably had enough frequent flyer miles for a free flight. Now usually I don’t advise using frequent flyer miles on business trips, because they are tax deductible, but these particular miles are set to expire soon. I was unable to check this multi-city trip online, so I had to call USAirways.
The rep I spoke to informed me that I didn’t have enough miles, but explained that $258 for a multi-city trip was a great price. Also, by purchasing that ticket, I extended the expiration date of the miles I did have. So, I decided to make the purchase, and to save the $30 booking fee, I hung up and went online.
At that point, I got distracted, because I had to take my kids to their tennis lesson. I left my computer and drove out for a few hours. That night, I settled in and searched USAirways for my flight again.
The rate had gone down to $238.
I have no idea why, but I purchased it right away. So, sometimes you can do all of the research, find a great fare, and it’s STILL not the best that will be available. And now, I’m tracking it in Yapta, so if the price goes down significantly (very unlikely), I can apply for a refund.
* Even though it worked out for me, I don’t advise waiting on something you need to book. As it gets closer to your date, it’s likely that the price will increase.
How have you gotten the best airfare deals?