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You travel to London and you fly cheaply for $400. A few months later you want to go again and the price is $1500. Whats going on?

Airlines use a mathematical system to price airfares and can can have thousands of combinations of possible airfares. Flights with fewer available seats will be priced higher. A large company booking 35 seats could drive up the price for the rest of the seats. Here are some tips to help save money.

SEARCH DIFFERENT SOURCES -  Do some research. Check out the main travel websites. A travel agent might be able to get you better airfares. Airlines usually have their own websites nowadays and have specials and reduced fares as they don't pay a commission. No one website or travel agent is always cheapest. Shop around. And remember that airfares can change on an hourly basis so start planning your trip early and check airfares over a period of time.

STAY OVER A SATURDAY NIGHT - Airlines almost always use this restriction. It is in place for no other reason that to prevent business travelers from taking advantage of cheap fares. Business travelers are airlines bread and butter and usually pay lots more for tickets than the vacationers.

FLY TO LONDON FIRST -  London is usually the cheapest airport in Europe to fly to. Once there a budget airline like Easyjet pr Ryan Air can often deliver you cheaply to your final destination. I once got a ticket to Amsterdam for eight pounds and flew from Prague back to London for thirty dollars. Besides, you get to visit London without spending extra on airfares.

USE A STOPOVER CITY - If you want to fly to Italy or Spain fly with KLM and have a stopover in Amsterdam for a few days. Use Iberia to fly to Munich and stopover in Madrid for a while. Fly Air France to Greece and stopover in Paris.   You get to enjoy an extra city for free.

FLY DURING THE OFF SEASON - Europe is expensive and crowded in August. Fly in October or may instead. The weather will still be nice and the prices lower. Note that attractions might be closed for the season or have limited hours.

AVOID HOLIDAY TRAVEL -  This tip might of course defeat the purpose of your vacation. You might want to visit family for Christmas. Or your plan might be to visit Florida during spring break or Rio during Carnival when everybody drinks copious amounts of alcohol while dancing around half naked. For you guys the airlines have you by the you know what (So do the hotels). But a $900 flight to the Philippines can easily cost $3500 during Christmas. But avoiding times when everybody else wants to travel should save you money. Sometimes extending your vacation (Or arriving early) might save you some cash.

USE NEARBY AIRPORTS -  Gatwick in London is usually cheaper to fly to than Heathrow. Hamilton is usually cheaper than Toronto - although an hour and a half away. Discount airlines like Ryan Air and Easyjet often use out of the way airports taking advantage of lower landing fees.  You just have to be careful that the extra land fees is not more than your savings and that the extra time spent is worth the cost.

CHECK RETURN FLIGHT -  Even if you are only going one way it might be cheaper to buy a return ticket and just let the return portion expire. (In Europe this is often true with trains also). if you are on a travel website search both return airfares even if you are just going one way.

HAVE FLEXIBLE TRAVEL DATES - One or two days change might make a big difference. I find that Saturdays is often a cheap day to travel.  A big company outing might make take up a large portion of seats on one day and thereby the airline might jack up the price of the rest of the seats. Be as flexible as possible.

TRY TO GET BUMPED -  Airlines know that some people will not show up. So they will sell more seats that the plane has. If to many people show up they have to get some people to give up their seats. This gives you power to negotiate with the airlines for vouchers, upgrades or even free tickets..

Click here for strategies on getting bumped


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