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Any rhyme or reason to finding the best airfare?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello all, I'm looking to buy a ticket out to Denver for the first week of April. I'm not real experienced in shopping for/buying airfare. How/where do you find the best airfare prices? Is there any certain timeframe prior to travel that prices are best? Are there any discounts based upon the days that you travel? I hear that Delta is supposed to be dropping rates soon, does anyone have any info on that? I'll be flying from Norfolk Int'l airport, or Newport News/Williamsburg airport. Right now it seems cheaper by about $75 to use NN/W with the cheapest being right at $250 right now for travel dates of 4/4 to 4/9. I'm convinced that I can find a much lower fare if I hold out, or do more researching. Thanks guys, maybe someone can give me a pointer or two.

post #2 of 19


Hi Mike,

I used to live in Virginia Beach and I always had a tough time finding good fares from the area. If you broaden your search to include Richmond you may have a bit more luck but the truely cheap flights to Denver are usually from BWI, DCA or IAD in the DC area. Heres a few suggestions. If your flight times are flexible try www.hotwire.com or www.priceline.com. Also try using travelocity and using the flexible dates option, it will tell you which dates are cheap and which are not. Finally, you can alway check out www.skyauction.com but be careful as they add alot of service fees and have a lot of restrictions. Happy hunting.

post #3 of 19
Foroget Priceline. Use Orbitz, or Cheaptickets.com. Check it on Wed. afternoons.
post #4 of 19
Hi Mike,

I have no idea what the "best" way is, but when I flew out to meet Uncle Louie I used Expedia.com and it was very easy. I flew Sat to Thurs on United out of Pittsburgh and it was something like $210 roundtrip - which is what it cost me just to fly from Pittsburgh to Norfolk last summer. I also needed to book a flight and hotel deal to LA last minute, due to a change in schedule for taking my medical boards, and with Expedia it was booked and done in 5 minutes.

I also hear that Jet Blue has fantastic rates, but they only fly out of a few places - DC may be one of them. You have plenty of time, so shop around on-line and you'll probably find a good deal. I think most of the time it's a combination of persistence and luck.

P.S. -I would be going back in April too, but I'll be in Guatemala for the whole month. So, Louie will be skiing while I'm in the coffee highlands w/ the Maya.

Good Luck!
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. Yeah Kathryn, I'll just have to be persistent and keep checking regularly. I'll have to check the smaller airlines that don't advertise on the tickets websites since I may broaden my area here for departure.
post #6 of 19
Since United's two main hubs are Dulles and Denver, you might want to consider driving up to Dulles. I don't know how cheap of a flight you can get, but you'd think they'd offer really cheap last minute deals because they ebd up sending a lot of large planes and uncrowded between those two airports just because the plane is on it's way somewhere else.
post #7 of 19
We check the airline's website multiple times a day. You may actually see the price fluctuate for the same flights, within the same day. Then look again late at night, 'cuz after midnight, airlines often release more seats. We can often find the real bargains after midnight.

We also check the fares from the smaller local airports. Occasionally the smaller airports have a cheaper rate. Being flexible helps if you have many airports to choose from within an hour or so in your area.

Also sign up for the e-saver e-mails. Airlines send out e-mails with a list of flights that have reduced fare specials for the upcoming week of travel. Great for those last-minute impromptu getaways.

If you have any flexibility in when you leave or arrive, try entering one day earlier or later on your itinerary. Sometimes shifting the trip by one day can have an entirely different fare.
post #8 of 19
I just checked Orbitz, I was not so much surprised about the airfare, real good 225 RT from Philly, but...for 2 people, round trip from Philly, for 5 days room, 400/pp to SLC
post #9 of 19
I'd like to 2nd the recommendation of www.hotwire.com . During the past 2 years, I have used them and found incredible deals on airfares. In fact, when Bob, Tom ,and I were looking for fares to BTV from Den for the ETU, the airlines were all up in the $300+ range... On hotwire, we got our fares for $174r/t. I have had similar results several times now.

But as stated, start looking about 6 weeks ahead, look every day, and be flexible with your departure time and arrivals. They use mostly major airlines, and you can specify whether you will accept flight changes (cheaper) or even red eye's (cheaper yet!) You will not be told what airline or times until you confirm purchase of the ticket.

But once you buy a hotwire ticket, there is NO changing it and NO refunds. So be prepared. If these are restrictions you can live with, then there are some very good deals to be had!
post #10 of 19
Obviously many make a career out of this question. I'm no expert, but I use travelocity to get some general price parameters; their alert emails are sometimes informative too. Plotting a few scenarios on travelocity can point out which major carriers may have generally low fares to destinations of interest. Then I go directly to the websites of those carriers and try some more scenarios, this sometimes gave me some good, cheap direct flights from closest home airports (always preferable). Travelocity will usually require connecting flights on their lowest fares. I also go directly to Southwest or Jet Blue websites to see what those two are offering.
post #11 of 19
I do the ame as Lucky. Look on orbitz, etc to find general pricing then go directly to airline site. Your price should be cheaper on the carriers site, plus it helps save on some of the possible headaches.

A few airlines to check into would be Airtran and Frontier. I'm not sure if they fly out of Newport News, but good airline for less cost. Good Luck.
post #12 of 19

They all have something going for them

I travel often - at least a couple times a month. Mostly for work but 4 or 5 times a year for pleasure. I can use a corporate travel agency for work and I usually get good fare there. But if I don't get a good deal at the agency, I work on my own. I also use Travelocity and Orbitz. Both have there redeeming values.

If you really want a good deal:

-book early
-check the no-commitment sites first like Travelocity and Orbitz. If you have a favored airline, check their website or call them. Book the cheapest one within your parameters
-then go go to Priceline. Put in a lower fare and again set your parameters. Make sure that whatever fare you put in will compensate you for any further inconvenince you're willing to agree to (e.g., more than one stop, flying at awful hours, etc.) If Priceline doesn't have a fare, so be it. But make sure you shoot for a really cheap fare to compensate you for the inconvenience.

I went to Thailand for $600 round trip using Priceline! The best I could have done at the time with Travelocity and others was $1,200 - and that's not that bad a fare. I never expected to get my $600 price. The first price I put in was $500. Didn't get anything. I had to change my dates but that option was available to me and the ability to be flexibly about when I was going saved me $600.

I'm taking a trip to Puerto Rico in February for $150 round trip - high season to PR for $150 on Jet Blue. I got that fare directly from Jet Blue (who always has cheap fares). I'm going to Whistler in two weeks for 8 days. My air fare is about $250. That's part of a package that includes hotel, air, lift tickest, etc. Make sure you check out a package like that if you'll be using that stuff.

If you look around a bit, you can save money.
post #13 of 19
I second the great advice listed here.

I also like the email alerts from SmarterTravel and through them I have heard about airline price wars and promotions which have also helped me find reduced fares.
post #14 of 19
I have to throw a plug in for kayak.com for searching for airfares. You don't purchase from them (yet) but it's a great tool for checking fares. Also, check during the middle of the week.

post #15 of 19
Another tip: discount airlines don't get listed on the travel sites like Expedia, etc., so check with them directly -- places like Southwest, Jet Blue.

post #16 of 19
some people have praised this fairly new site : sidestep.com
It is very similar to the bigger travel sites (orbitz, expedia, etc.) but it also includes smaller companies like Jet Blue and somehow is part owned by Orbitz from what I understand. I've never booked anything from them yet but their fares look competitive ($185 BOS-SLC on a sample search I did for late January)
post #17 of 19
Pick a few web booking sites (mentioned above), including the airlines' own web site, and comparison show for prices and conditions. The best way to do this is to open several browser windows simultaneously and compare.

Originally Posted by madmike
...Is there any certain timeframe prior to travel that prices are best? Are there any discounts based upon the days that you travel? I hear that Delta is supposed to be dropping rates soon, does anyone have any info on that? ...
It used to be booking 14 days ahead of time, and including a Saturday night stay-over was one sure way of getting the lowest possible fare on all execpt the upstart discount airlines, (Southweat, Jet Blue, etc.). Delta changed that.

The Delta price drop has already happened earlier this week, 1/5 or 1/6. So, literally any web booking site you use will reflect the new pricing. American Airlines seems to have matched the fares, and USA Today had a nice summary write up on it.
post #18 of 19
A relatively new airline tavel site is called expertflyer.com. They don't actually do the bookings, but they let you look at information that is not redily available through other travel sites. They give you a lot of information about seat upgrades and options, flight info, availability, etc.

I heard about this site from a frequent flyer forum I also belong to.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks a ton for all the tips! I'll be busy taking all this in and browsing around. I appreciate the help and hopefully it'll help someone else too.

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