Strategies for Booking Flights

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Links listed in this handout were active as of 1/1/05


**All purpose sites like www.orbitz.com , www.expedia.com and www.travelocity.com are a good start to see what airlines go to the places you want to travel. Remember not all airlines (for example Southwest, JetBlue, USA3000, and Independence Air) are represented by some on line booking sites. If you decide to go with these all purpose sites they usually charge a fee (about $5) for the service.

ITA Software (www.itasoftware.com) can provide valuable information on different flights, including warnings such as airport change, and long layover. You cannot book on this site but it will direct you to where you can book.


** Sites like www.sidestep.com , www.qixo.com , www.Mobissimo.com and www.bookingbuddy.com are aggregator sites. But what are they and what do they do? These web site scan booking sites and cull the results. Some sites require downloading while others work directly off the web. Sites change so you have to check each out to find out about their requirements for use. Be aware that some may charge up to $20 for this service. You may want to skip this process until you have exhausted other strategies.


**It's always a good idea to check the individual airline web sites that travel to your destination/s. Sometimes you can pick up extra frequent flyer miles and great prices if you book on line. Reservation via phone may cost you an extra fee. You may even be able to choose your seat and get a boarding pass 24 hours before the flight. Most airlines allow you to sign up to receive airline e-deals. These messages are usually sent out once a week and often offer fantastic deals to be purchased within a very limited time frame.


**Do you feel lucky? In the past using www.Priceline.com and www.Hotwire.com was kind of risky since you had to pay up front before seeing what you actually got. You can still do that but they also offer surprise-free flight-booking services that show times, airlines and prices. Hotwire gives you some information on your bid and allows you up to 2 hours to find a better deal. Of course it requires that you give them your credit card number. If you can't come up with a better deal then you have that ticket. If you like the adventure of bidding check out www.biddingfortravel.com for some bidding pointers.


**Budget sites like www.smarterliving.com , www.onetravel.com and www.travelzoo.com update their bargains on a regular basis. You can even sign up to have them email you their specials. www.travelzoo.com has a weekly Top 20 Best Deals.


**Sites like www.site59.com offer information on last minute travel. Check out other last minute specialists on the web.


**Consolidators may be a good way to go since they purchase blocks of tickets and pass the discounts on to consumers. But buyer beware. You really need to find reputable consolidators. Here is where a travel agent might be your best bet.


Mary O'Haver, January 1, 2005, mohaver@umd5.umd.edu