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Save Big on Airfare: 8 Top Tips to Reduce the Cost of Your Airline Tickets

Airfare prices may be set to increase in 2006, as airlines struggle with rising fuel costs and not enough passengers. The hardest hit are the smaller, budget airlines, such as Independence Air, which closed its doors in the first week of January.

It's common for passengers on the same flight to have paid drastically different prices for similar seats.

From that shutdown alone, airfare experts say fares in many of the 30 cities previously served by Independence Air could double or even triple.

"We're going to learn the true meaning of 'sky high,' "said airline consumer expert Tom Parsons, CEO of in a USA Today report.

But there is good news for travelers -- with a little know-how, you can save big on airfares.

Top Eight Money-Saving Airfare Tips

1. Use an ethnic travel agent if flying internationally.
Travel agents in ethnic neighborhoods tend to cater to their home ethnicity. They buy space on flights in bulk and get the best deals for that crowd. So if you are flying to China, for example, seek out a travel agent in Chinatown.

2. Be flexible.
The least expensive days to fly are typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can save even more if you're willing to take a red-eye or very early morning flight, or one with a stop or two. If you can risk not being able to find tickets, you can try waiting until the very last minute. Many airlines offer last-minute promotional rates ... but only if seats are left open.

3. Opt for e-tickets.
Whenever possible, always choose the electronic ticket option. Most travel agents charge a fee to deliver paper tickets.

Try booking your next flight online and you could save 10 percent or more.

4. Buy tickets through a consolidator.
Consolidators buy blocks of tickets and sell them at a discounted rate in order to help airlines fill up seats. You can find "Ticket Consolidators" in your newspaper's travel section or online at sites like, and Be aware that these tickets may have more restrictions than others.

5. Use an alternative airport.
Flying to an airport that is 30-40 minutes away from your destination can save you up to 50 percent on a flight. For instance, flying into Baltimore instead of Washington D.C., Oakland instead of San Francisco, or Rockford instead of Chicago.

6. Check fares on low-cost airlines.
Although they may not be featured on major travel Web sites, airlines like JetBlue, Southwest and American Trans Air often offer lower fares and better promotions than competitors. Fly eight round-trips on Southwest, for instance, and the ninth is free. However, the disadvantage is that their travel areas are much more limited.

7. Check online.
Ticket prices can be cut by 10 percent or more when purchased online. Many online travel sites also offer package deals for vacations that include flights, hotel and car rentals. Be sure to shop around though, as prices vary widely by site. Check online specials not only for individual airlines but also at sites such as,, and

8. Do your homework, then act fast.
Once you get an idea of what a good price is for your particular flight needs, be prepared to act fast. Airfares change dramatically, even from day to day, so if you see a price you like, buy it!

Recommended Reading

Six of the World's Grimmest Tourist Destinations

How to Travel Abroad Safely: Six Important Tips You Need to Know in an Emergency


USA Today January 3, 2006

How to Buy Cheap Airline Tickets

A Guide to Booking Air Tickets Online

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