7 Secret Tricks of Top Travel Pros that can Save you a Fortune
#1 - Time your Airfare Booking to maximum Effect
Airlines must release new airfares to a central clearinghouse - the "Airline Tariff Publishing Company" or ATPCO - at certain hours. Booking right when new releases come out will often give you much better rates.
On weekdays, the best times to look for new fares are just after 2pm, 4:30pm, and midnight (Eastern Standard Time).
Tickets that were reserved but never paid for usually appear right after midnight, so that's an especially rich time for good deals.
On weekends, fares are updated just once a day, around 5pm.
In general - within the US - Tuesday tends to be the best day to book airfares and Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday usually have the lowest fares if you can be flexible.
#2 - Benefit from oversold flights
When a flight is over-booked, airlines are usually looking for volunteers to give up their seats in return for a free domestic ticket voucher. If you agree, ask for a travel credit voucher instead - a dollar amount that can be used toward the purchase of a future flight. $300 is about the going rate though agents often up the ante if they're having trouble finding volunteers.
The free voucher the airlines like to offer are subject to the same restrictions as frequent-flier awards like blackout dates etc. The monetary voucher on the other hand, can be used with any flight - and - qualifies for frequent-flier miles, which the free voucher doesn't.
#3 - Clear your computer’s cookies and cache
If you searched for airfares on a site but didn’t buy a ticket, use a different browser or computer on your next visit or clear your computer’s cookies and cache. Otherwise you may be shown a higher fare because you left cookies the first time and the site knows you’re eager to buy
#4 - Use Airline Code Shares to find better Deals
If you are considering a flight that is operated by two airlines, check prices with both before buying your ticket. Each carrier is free to set their own price and the difference can sometimes be significant. I recently booked a flight from New York to Munich. The Lufthansa price would have been $1037, but United offered it for $775.
#5 - Ask for last-minute upgrades
Airlines don't like empty seats and you can often find cheap first/biz class upgrades when you check in at the airport. The closer to departure, the higher your chances, so it's always worth asking, especially on long international flights.
#6 - Save BIG on Cruises Bookings
There are 3 ways to greatly save on Cruise bookings:
- make a "category-guarantee" reservation rather than booking a specific cabin. You will get the best available cabin in that category (after all other rooms have been assigned), at the lowest possible cost. You won't know which cabin you are getting until you check in, but the savings will be significant, especially in higher grade cabins.
- Book during "Wave Season" = New Year's through March. You will often find value-added extras like free airfare, or and upgrade to a suite or balcony cabin for a nominal fee.
- If you are a solo traveller, book VERY early to get one of the few single cabins. Otherwise, you might have to pay double.
#7 - Avoid foreign transaction fees
Most banks will charge you heavily for international transactions (up to 3%) and cash advances. Get a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees - and in some cases even offers free cash advances. Examples are Chase Sapphire and Capital One Quicksilver for personal cards and Chase Ink and Capital One Spark for business cards.
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