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Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Travel Tips For Airfare


A critical part of the travel budget is transportation and this often includes airfare. The frugal traveler does more than keep an eye out on the internet for discounted flights. He or she looks for more creative ways to stretch the travel dollars.

Using Free Stop Overs

When the hubby and I traveled to Australia the first time, we flew Air New Zealand. Why? Because the airline offered a free stop over in their hub in New Zealand. We had never seen the country and were planning to tour it anyway. This way, we didn't have to pay for airfare to and from.

The second time, we traveled to Australia, we flew Air Tahiti Nui. This airline offered, you guessed it, a free stop over in Tahiti on the way to or back. Another place we always wanted to visit.

Hidden Cities

Free stop overs are a benefit openly offered by some airlines. Hidden cities are not only unadvertised but are actively discouraged by the airlines. However they can be great savings for the frugal traveler.

An example of this is a trip from New York City to Las Vegas. Sometimes a flight from New York City to Los Angeles is less expensive, even though this same flight stops in Las Vegas to pick up more passengers. So what is to stop the frugal traveler from getting off early, at the destination he or she really wants to visit?

A few things... Luggage will be sent to the ticketed destination so this trick is for carry on only passengers. Also the flyer must remember that the return ticket should start at his or her real destination.

Getting Bumped

For the flexible, easy going traveler, being bumped for a flight is like winning the travel lottery. There is usually compensation plus you're allowing someone else, who really needs to, to get to his or her destination on time.

Travelers knowing the rules know the compensation offered (check the carriers website), know the next flights out (be wary of carriers with once a week flights), and can weigh that against the pain of disrupted plans. The hubby and I always decide before arriving at the airport (early so we have a boarding pass to give up) whether or not it's worth it. That way we can be the first to offer up our seats.

There are ways to increase the chance of being bumped, the simplest being booking an already quite full flight (usually a flight later on in the day).

Air travel doesn't have to blow a travel budget. With some monitoring of discount sites and using some creativity, the frugal traveler can receive more for less.

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