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Hangar 18

How to Find the Lowest Fares

Please understand!

This system uses live, real-time information and pricing direct from a major Computer Reservation System. This is the same data used by travel professionals around the world.

The fares shown in this system are the lowest published fares available given the constraints that you specify. This is how travel professionals around the world receive their information; we have simply brought it to you in an easy-to-understand, natural language format. Try out our airline ticket search now.

Remember: More often than not, two people sitting right next to each other on an airplane have paid completely different fares due to changing availability and late breaking fare war pricing. If the flight you want does not display the fare you are expecting, it is because the fare is not applicable, the fare class has already been sold out, or because you did not observe the admonishments below.

On any given day between New York and Los Angeles, there are over two hundred different fare types. It would be an exercise in frustration to display them all along with the rules governing each fare. The idea is to follow some simple rules, and let this interface and your travel agent do most of the work for you. By following the guidelines below, most of the guesswork has already been eliminated.

If you have already read the help section, and are using the interface properly, the suggestions below will help you when trying to find the lowest fares. These guidelines are not absolute and may not apply in each and every situation. But, by following them you should be able to find the lowest fares most of the time.

- Stay over a Saturday night
This is the golden rule of flying round-trip. For example, if you're flying from Miami to San Francisco on a Tuesday and you want to return to Miami before Sunday morning, it's going to cost you extra. This is because business travelers tend to want to be home for the weekend. Occasionally, a low fare will be introduced that does not require a minimum stay. This usually occurs in the corridor or shuttle markets such as San Francisco to Los Angeles or Boston to Washington. 12 Midnight Saturday night is the magic instant. To get the discount, you must be at your destination during this instant.

- Buy more than 21 days in advance
If you are making inquiries into flights that are sooner than 21 days from now, they are likely to be more expensive. Not only do airlines like to be able to plan ahead, but they also figure that if you have to fly on short notice, you may not have a choice. The advance purchase schedule varies from 21 days to 3 days. The lowest transcontinental fares usually require a 21 day advance. There is usually a 14 day advance purchase fare, and there may be a 7 day advance purchase as well. Occasionally there will be special 3 day advance fares. These generally appear during fare wars and last only a short while. This system is a great way to find information and make a reservation during a fare war without waiting on hold forever.

- Use the same carrier for all flight segments
When making more than simple one way or round trip reservations, using the same airline for all the flights of your trip will often result in significant savings. Simply picking the cheapest individual segments regardless of carrier will not result in your best travel value. In some cases you may have to change your airline preferences a few times in order to get a return with a consistent carrier for all flight segments. Choosing "none" as a carrier preference is sometimes a good way to get a general feeling for which airlines service the most number of airports in your trip.

Many times on international inquiries, two or more carriers may be mixed on the same choice when a connection must be made. This is an exception to the above rule, although even here you may benefit if you can find a consistent carrier.

- Pick a flight with plenty of seats left
The fewer seats left on a plane, the more expensive they are. Seats in a flight are portioned in groups called "classes". Each class has a price. The cheapest classes sell first.

- Pick the right days of the week
More often than not you will run into day and time restrictions. Essentially, this means that some days of the week are cheaper than others. These days of the week change every so often. Currently, for most airlines, it's cheapest to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The difference is usually $20 to $30 per direction. A Tuesday to Sunday fare might be $20 higher than a Tuesday to Saturday, a Thursday to Sunday trip might cost $40 more.

- Avoid holidays
Traveling during the holidays is notoriously expensive. Most airlines have black-out days around popular holidays. Not only are the fares more expensive, but often you cannot use frequent flyer miles during these periods either. Ironically, the day of the actual holiday (e.g. Dec 25th, Thanksgiving Day, Memorial Sunday, etc) is commonly not a black-out day and seats are often available right up to the last minute. Flying on the day of a major holiday can sometimes be a way around poor availability and expensive fares.

- Consider frequent flyer programs
Make sure that you are registered with the frequent flyer program of any airline that you fly. When making reservations, keep in mind that it may be a better idea in the long run to consistently fly with the same airline and accumulate frequent flier miles, than to base your criteria strictly on which carrier has the lowest fare.