Flight Tickets

International Air Travel

Much of the confusion about airfares comes from the fact that there are completely different systems of airfares for domestic flights within any given country and for international flights.

The united states is the world's largest air travel market, and people from the USA travel within the country much more than they travel abroad. As a result, many people from the united states are unfamiliar with the inner workings of the air travel industry make the mistake of applying their experience or knowledge of domestic airfares to international airfares, where they don't necessarily apply at all.




How to get the Best Rates on International Air Travel

Reserving in Advance

Make your reservations as soon as you have decided on travel plans. Airlines give discounts for early bookings at least 1-2 months in advance and 3-4 months in case of peak season. Plan as far ahead as you can. Most airlines set aside only a few seats on many desirable flights at the lower rates. The real best bargains often sell out very quickly. On the other hand, if a particular flight is not selling as well as expected, air carriers sometimes make more discount seats available for a particular flight.

It pays to shop around!

Although air fares seem to be - by some amazing coincidence - identical amongst all the major carriers within the US, you'll find that some of the less well known airlines offer much lower fares than the 'major' name brand airlines do on international routes. Alternatively, even major name brand carriers will discount on routes where their itinerary requires a connection and they're competing against other major carriers who offer nonstop service.

Flexibility

Be flexible in your travel plans in order to get the lowest fare. The best deals may be limited to travel on certain days of the week (often Tuesday through Thursday, or Friday night through Sunday morning) or particular hours of the day (e.g., late-night departures). This applies to each of your flights, not just the first flight in your itinerary. After you get a fare quote, ask the reservations agent if you could save even more by flying a day earlier or later, or by taking a different flight on the same day. Or simply ask the agent what the lowest fare is, and what you need to do to qualify for it.



Check on Alternate Airports and Routings

In a large cities, the fare could depend on which airport you use. For example, if you are going to New york City and plan to rent a car, it might not make much difference if you fly to Newark except for ticket price. Also, a connection or a one-stop flight is sometimes cheaper than a nonstop. Always check on alternate airports and routings when pricing a ticket.

Know All the Restrictions

Ask about all restrictions on your fare. Typical requirements for discount fares include purchasing a round trip ticket, buying the ticket a certain number of days before departure, purchasing the ticket within 24 hours of making a reservation, staying over a Saturday night, traveling during a certain time of the year, staying no more than 30 days, and, as discussed below, refund/change restrictions.

Holidays

Discount seats are usually "blacked out" during holiday periods. However, you might be able to get a discount fare if you fly on the holiday itself.(e.g., New Year's day)

Off Season Travel

The best rates tend to be found during the off season and at other times when the Airlines are flying at less than capacity. Always watch for the Airline Ticket Sale

Stopover Trip

Check into splitting your trip into two round trip sections. A stopover at a midpoint could save you over flying a direct route. Although, make sure the saving are large enough to warrant the extra hassles of the stopover.

Discount Programs

Apply any special discount programs for which you are eligible. Example Frequent Flyer Miles...

Take some time to look for the best rate, a little research can bring big savings. Airline ticket prices vary wildly and you want to be the one that paid $550 round trip, not the guy in the next seat that paid $850.



Unlike domestic fares, international airfares remain regulated, and the official fares published by the airlines give little indication of the actual prices at which travel agents sell tickets on those airlines. It's as much a waste of time to consult domestic travel agencies for international airfares.

International airfares are set by international agreement and regulated by the IATA. Most international airlines are closely related to, if not directly owned by, their national governments. Most governments in turn have an interest in protecting the profits of their national airline, and the IATA fares are therefore set very artificially high.

All sales of international tickets on scheduled airlines at less than official fares are made through travel agencies, not directly by the airlines, and ultimately depend on rebating of commissions by travel agents to customers. This is how travel agencies can and do, quite legally, offer lower prices for international tickets than the airlines themselves.

Many people have heard that they can get cheaper deals from "consolidators" or "bucket shops" than from the airlines and that is true in most cases.
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Airline ticket prices are not guaranteed until the air tickets have been issued. All prices quoted are for adult fares, roundtrip and do not include taxes or any applicable surcharges. Some airlines charge an additional fee for paper tickets where a ticket may be eligeable for an e-ticket. Always read the rules and restrictions for the ticket as this contains the penalty, cancellation and refund policy for that ticket. Rules and restrictions vary depending on the airline and itinerary chosen.