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Save on airfare in any season

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Date published: 10/7/2012



Yes, fares on many routes are more expensive this year than last, but airfares are not static and there are (relative) deals to be had any time of year. Here's my best advice for making your airfare dollars go farther no matter what time of year.

Sign up for the airlines' email feeds and frequent flyer programs: We know, you already get too much email, but the airlines want to develop a one-on-one relationship with you, so they'll send you special deals, such as 50 percent off promo codes or two-fers, if you sign up.

Airline sites sell much more than airfares these days (hotels, rental cars, credit cards and such), and they will entice you to deal direct rather than use a third party. If you're on Twitter, you might also want to follow airlines' Twitter-only deals. I signed up for Virgin America's frequent flyer program and because I hadn't flown them yet I kept on getting promo code discount offers.

Sign up for third-party fare alerts: Some sites let you track your specific itinerary, down to flight number and dates of travel, and will let you know if the airline owes you a price-drop refund. Airfarewatchdog.com will send you a list of the cheapest fares from your nearest airports, or alerts on specific routes when the fare is a bargain. Travelocity's easy-to-use Farewatcher lets you track up to 10 routes and you can choose to be notified either when a fare goes down by $25 or more, or when it goes below a price you choose. Orbitz also offers alerts, as does Bing Travel, TripAdivsor.com/flights and others.

Search airline sites individually, but not exclusively: As noted above, many airlines have "private" sales, reserving very best fares for their own sites. These are different from promo code fares. International airlines such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qantas regularly offer lower fares (i.e., $100-$400 less) on their web sites compared to what you'll find on Kayak or Orbitz. And yet, you shouldn't ignore online travel agencies, because these sites will tell you if it's cheaper flying out on one airline and back on another. In general, airline sites want you to fly only on their "metal."

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