Thursday, April 10, 2008

Luke Ford's Patented 'Kangaroo Down' Workout Luke Ford -- the Jane Fonda of the Orthodox set -- works out to "Tie me kangaroo down, sport." This is how a Jew works out. Terrorists beware!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Luke Ford's Mental Health Diary III In May 2006, Luke had an exhilarating fling with Cheryl Shuman. Now they talk for the first time in years. Things ended ugly with vicious recriminations all round.

Luke Ford's Mental Health Diary III In May 2006, Luke had an exhilarating fling with Cheryl Shuman. Now they talk for the first time in years. Things ended ugly with vicious recriminations all round.

Luke Ford's Mental Health Diary II In May 2006, Luke had an exhilarating fling with Cheryl Shuman. Now they talk for the first time in years. Things ended ugly with vicious recriminations all round.

Luke Ford's Mental Health Diary In May 2006, Luke had an exhilarating fling with Cheryl Shuman. Now they talk for the first time in years. Things ended ugly with vicious recriminations all round.

KNBC TV's Shira Lazar interviewed April 4, 2008 IV Shira Lazar is a hot peppy Jewish girl from Montreal. She's lived in LA for four years and hosts a couple of shows on KNBC TV on Saturday night.
" OpenHouseLA" and " 1stLookLA," two new locally produced, half-hour shows, will debut on NBC4 (KNBC-Channel 4) on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Shira Lazar (Court TV's "Hollywood Heat," Yahoo! Entertainment Host) will host the weekly shows.

KNBC TV's Shira Lazar interviewed April 4, 2008 III Shira Lazar is a hot peppy Jewish girl from Montreal. She's lived in LA for four years and hosts a couple of shows on KNBC TV on Saturday night.
" OpenHouseLA" and " 1stLookLA," two new locally produced, half-hour shows, will debut on NBC4 (KNBC-Channel 4) on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Shira Lazar (Court TV's "Hollywood Heat," Yahoo! Entertainment Host) will host the weekly shows.

KNBC TV's Shira Lazar interviewed April 4, 2008 II Shira Lazar is a hot peppy Jewish girl from Montreal. She's lived in LA for four years and hosts a couple of shows on KNBC TV on Saturday night.
" OpenHouseLA" and " 1stLookLA," two new locally produced, half-hour shows, will debut on NBC4 (KNBC-Channel 4) on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Shira Lazar (Court TV's "Hollywood Heat," Yahoo! Entertainment Host) will host the weekly shows.

KNBC TV's Shira Lazar interviewed April 4, 2008 Shira Lazar is a hot peppy Jewish girl from Montreal. She's lived in LA for four years and hosts a couple of shows on KNBC TV on Saturday night.
" OpenHouseLA" and " 1stLookLA," two new locally produced, half-hour shows, will debut on NBC4 (KNBC-Channel 4) on Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Shira Lazar (Court TV's "Hollywood Heat," Yahoo! Entertainment Host) will host the weekly shows.

KNBC TV's Shira Lazar interviewed Shira Lazar is a hot peppy Jewish girl from Montreal. She's lived in LA for four years and hosts a couple of shows on KNBC TV on Saturday night.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Subprime Borrowers I\'ve launched a new blog about the refinancing market. Get the latest on mortgage refinance, car refinance, bad credit refinance, and morgages. Subprime borrowers.

Matt Leinart In Hot Tub With Four Hotties

Former USC quarter Matt Leinart, now with the Arizona Cardinals, was photographed in the hot tub with four hot college girls. This is not the path, Matt, to lasting happiness. Casual sex is only rewarding for the first 30 years or so.

Cheap Tickets & Fare Tracking

How do you know if you've overpaid?
Is there any remedy?
Is there any way to check?
You want cheap tickets, right?
Here's some new software.
A report:

Several innovative companies have been working to improve information about (and access to) low airfares in recent years. We’ve seen the widespread acceptance of aggregators like Kayak, SideStep (reviewed here last year), and the growth of fare watching/predicting services like FareCompare and FareCast.

So what’s next?

The tech world went ga-ga over Yapta (Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant) recently. And if it’s the real deal, then it could be a great service.

Unlike existing fare alert tools, Yapta also tracks the fares on your trip after you’ve purchased, in order to take advantage of low-fare guarantees and fare-drop voucher policies. If your ticket’s fare drops after you’ve purchased, you get a refund in the form of a voucher. The site is in closed beta right now, and was supposed to open up for public beta this week.

The idea is a good one. One possible snag: Not every airline (or booking site) guarantees their fares in case of a fare drop. If more than 24 hours have passed since the time of purchase, getting a fare-drop voucher is increasingly rare. (For example, United still does it, but US Airways apparently abandoned their fare-drop policy after they merged with America West.)

Perhaps the best of all possible worlds would be 1) using Farecast to get a reading on whether the current fare is a good one, and whether to wait or buy now, then 2) using FareCompare to get e-mail alerts when fares drop (even hours before those fares even go on sale), and finally 3) using Yapta to track fares after you’ve pulled the trigger, so you can collect vouchers or refunds if fares drop further. Sounds like a great combination to me. (If these three companies merge, e-mail me for the address where you can send the finder’s fee for brokering the deal.)

I certainly appreciate all the effort, venture capital, and sheer computing power that goes into giving consumers better access to low airfares. It’s a big reason why airfares are as relatively low as they are today, despite recent fare hikes in light of high fuel costs.

But I’d love to see similar effort put into tracking hotel rates. I know, there’s more variation between hotels, and then more variation between rooms within each property, so it’s harder to make comparisons, but I’m sure there are some clever, entrepreneurial programmers who can figure out a way.

Cheap Tickets - Do They Exist?

Chris Welsch says that being your own travel agent puts you at some risk. If you're booking a complex journey, watch out.

With oil prices high, most plane fares are high.

You're also getting stuck with all sorts of charges from your box lunch etc...

But if you are patient and diligent and you shop and compare, you can still find some bargains.

Here's the March 14, 2008 report:

On her blog called the Travel Gal, Cindy Carlsson of St. Paul, Minn., shares stories and photos from trips to Botswana, Ecuador, Cambodia and Thailand, but it was the expense of a potential trip to Berlin this summer that finally put the brakes on her wanderlust.

"We looked at the cost of the air tickets and the exchange rate and decided we couldn't do it," she said.

Fuel surcharges and increasing demand have steadily pushed the cost of tickets up. Travelocity estimates that prices rose on average by 7 percent last year; on some flights, the rise was much higher than that. Ticket price is only one measure of the increased cost of flying; passengers also paid extra for their box lunches, their exit row and aisle seats, and on United at least, their second checked bags.

There are ways to fight back.

Carlsson is a good case in point. After giving up on Berlin, she patiently monitored airfares. When Northwest, promoting its direct flights to Paris, offered a $2,100 deal on a weeklong hotel-air package for two, Carlsson snagged it. She and her husband, Lane Phillips, are going to France in May.

"Doing the research, putting in some work, that's what being an informed consumer is about," said Erik Torkells, editor of Budget Travel magazine.

Today, most of that work can be done on the Internet. Booking tools that once were available only to travel agents are now available to anyone. At sites such as, consumers can compare fares day-to-day from multiple airlines, getting a clearer picture of how pricing changes over time. At, they can look at graphs that show price fluctuations over time, and predict when fares will rise or fall. sends consumers weekly or daily updates on low fares from any chosen airport.

Each site has advantages and disadvantages, meaning you need to use more than one to get the best fare.

Even with thorough research, consumers may need to make compromises to get real bargains.

"Flexibility is key," said Kellie Pelletier of, an "aggregator" site that searches multiple Web sites for the best deals. "If you can fly when others aren't, you'll get the best deal."

That can mean planning your European vacation in winter; fares and hotel rates are much lower then, and many of the reasons travelers like Europe - restaurants, museums and other cultural attractions - are just as appealing in February as they are in June, but with shorter lines.

On the other hand, no one wants to go to the Caribbean in July. "There are reasons the off-season is the off-season," said Torkells of Budget Travel.

Flexibility can also mean hunting for fares when the airlines are releasing sale fares and trying to fill up planes on short notice.

"If there is a time of week when you have the best chance to get a cheap fare it's Tuesday or Wednesday," said Terry Trippler, a Minneapolis-based airline expert. But he said those cheap fares are harder to find.

"I don't see many more public price increases this year - it's bad publicity for the airlines," he said. But he said that the airlines are making fewer seats available at the lowest fares, increasing revenue without sounding alarms about rising prices.




The more time you allow and the more you understand the market, the better your odds for finding the best price. "First you have to figure out what a good airfare is to Helsinki or wherever you're going," said Budget Travel magazine editor Erik Torkells. "Then when you see it, you grab it." presents charts that show past price trends for a particular route, and predict (with about 75 percent accuracy, according to the site) when prices will be lowest in the future. is another great site for fares and consumer news.

EMPLOY A WATCHDOG is a nifty site that will send out daily or weekly alerts about most bargain fares from a given airport. It's an independent site, and no airlines are omitted. For bargain hunters, it presents an invaluable snapshot of what's cheap and when. Worth noting: tracks airline "promo-code" fares that other sites don't yet catch. and some other booking sites offer an option to send e-mail alerts when airfares on chosen routes drop or rise significantly; this is also a good trend-watching tool. has a feature that compiles bargain fares from MSP at a glance.


More and more airlines are using promotional rates and e-mail offers to lure traffic to their Web sites. By signing up for e-mail alerts at your commonly used airlines, you get notice of these fares that you might not otherwise find.

BROAD SEARCHES is my favorite basic tool for researching and booking airfares. This site quickly checks almost all airlines' fares and presents them at a glance, along with charts that show the price trend for that route. It also offers an option to check rates three days before and after your preferred dates.

Flying legs of a journey overseas? lets you check fares from Stuttgart, Germany, to Prague or Bangkok to Mumbai, India.


Industry observers (and many casual consumers) agree that frequent flier seats are harder and harder to find; in essence they are losing value over time; use your miles sooner rather than later.

Northwest is aggressively enticing WorldPerks members to use their miles to pay down the cost of tickets. "Sometimes it's a great deal," said fare guru Terry Trippler. "Sometimes they're not so great." As an example, my spouse cut the rate of a flight to St. Louis from $425 to $225 by including 10,000 of her frequent flier miles in the deal.


Right now, some air-hotel packages to Europe are as cheap as air alone would be. You sacrifice your lodging choice, but gain value. Packages can be found at most airlines' sites as well as the bigger booking engines, such as and is appealing to the YouTube set with a weekly video (released Tuesdays at about 10 a.m.) that gives a quick rundown on good package deals.

But be alert: With a little research you can pick a clean, safe hotel on your own. A decent hotel room in most of Latin America and Southeast Asia can be had for under $40. You won't find deals like that on the airlines' sites.


Being your own travel agent poses some hazards. On complex routes and unusual destinations a travel agent can still save time and money and offer an extra layer of protection and help if things go wrong. Also remember that when you book multiple legs of a journey on different airlines, you have no protection when one leg lands late and your next plane leaves without you. You'll have to pony up for another ticket.

Cheap Tickets & Relevant Links

Here's an awesome collection of information about booking cheap flights. Why pay more? Do some research. Stay over Saturday night. Be flexible. Clear your cookies. Compare and shop and save.


  • Nobody wants to overpay for a flight. If you're a mere mortal, you probably don't have the luxury of pulling up to an airline ticket counter at the last minute—like the contestants in The Amazing Race—and purchasing an expensive last minute fare. Here, we're going to give you advice on how to get to where you want to go, in the cheapest way possible.

Step 1: Do your research

Your chariot awaits. (Creative Commons photo by Erik Charlton)
Your chariot awaits. (Creative Commons photo by Erik Charlton)
  • Before you go looking for a good price, it helps to know what a good price is. Five minutes of research will give you the lay of the airfare land.
  1. Check to see if there are peak travel months for your destination.
    • For example, if you are traveling from the United States to Sydney, Australia or Wellington, New Zealand, ticket prices are much more expensive from December to March (summer in Australia and New Zealand) than in July and August. Airfare to Reykjavik from the US, on the other hand, is significantly lower in December than in June.
    • Good resources for this information include Frommer's and Lonely Planet's "When To Go" section for your destination.
  2. Check to see if there are deals being offered for your destination.
  3. Farecast predicts based on historical data both whether current airfares are a good deal and whether airfares for a destination are rising, falling, or staying the same. They claim to be almost 75% accurate, although a Seattle Times test established an accuracy rate closer to 61%.

Step 2: Clear your cookies

  • Airline sites can be sneaky; they use small files of information called "cookies" normally used to store your user ID and preferences in order to figure out what airfares you've been researching. Clearing the cookies for those sites will erase your electronic trail. You may want to do this several times during this process.
  • WarningHowever, it will also erase whatever log-in you have stored on your computer for all websites, so make sure you remember your user names and passwords! Warning

How to clear your cookies in Firefox for the Mac

  • Version 2.0 and higher:
  1. Go to the Firefox menu, and select "Preferences"
  2. Click the "Privacy" tab.
  3. Under "Private Data", click "Clear Now"
  4. Check only the "Cookies" box.
  5. Click "Clear Private Data Now"

How to clear your cookies in Firefox for Windows

  • Version 2.0 and higher:
  1. Go to the Tools menu and select "Options".
  2. Click "Privacy".
  3. Select "Clear Now".
  4. Check only the "Cookies" box.
  5. Click "Clear Private Data Now"
  6. Click "OK".

How to clear your cookies in Internet Explorer

  • Version 7.0 and higher:
  1. Go to the Tools menu to "Internet Options".
  2. Click on the "General" tab.
  3. In the Browsing History section click "Delete".
  4. Click "Delete Cookies".
  5. Click "Yes".
  6. Click "Close".
  7. Click "OK".

How to clear your cookies in other browsers and versions

Step 3: Check fare-comparison sites

  • Once upon a time, travelers would look to big bookers like Orbitz and Expedia to find the cheapest airfare listed, and then go to the individual airline's website to get that fare even more cheaply. They also had to go to specific low-cost airline websites, like Southwest, JetBlue in the US, and EasyJet and RyanAir overseas. Now fare-comparison sites allow you to check all these sites at once to get the best airfare. One click on your preferred trip brings you to the travel-booking page.
  1. Go to Kayak, SideStep, or Yahoo! Farechase.
  2. Type in your departure airport and destination airport.
  3. You can increase your chances of getting a cheap airfare by checking the "Show Nearby Airports" boxes under the "From" and "To" fields.
Figure 1: 'Show Nearby Airports' boxes in Kayak
Figure 1: 'Show Nearby Airports' boxes in Kayak

Figure 2: 'Show Nearby Airports' boxes in SideStep
Figure 2: 'Show Nearby Airports' boxes in SideStep

  1. Enter your departure and return dates.
  2. Use the pull-down menus to select the time you want to travel. If you select "Anytime", you will increase your chances of getting a better price.
  3. Select the number of travelers.
  4. Click "Search".
  5. Some information will immediately appear. It will take a minute or two for all the results to fill in. The bar at the top of the page will inform you how close the website is to having all results.
  6. Use the controls in the left-hand bar to refine your search results.
  7. If you see a great deal, click on "Select" (in Kayak or SideStep) or "Go!" (in Yahoo! FareChase).
    • Kayak will immediately send you to the appropriate website to book your flight.
    • In SideStep, click "Select Flight". You will be sent to the appropriate website to book your flight.
    • In Yahoo! FareChase, click "Go!". You will be sent to the appropriate website to book your flight.

Step 4: Keep track of the fare to see if it drops

  • Several airlines and booking services have a "best fares" guarantee; if the fare drops by midnight on the same ticket (itinerary and class), you can get the difference refunded. See below for links to these guarantees.
  1. Familiarize yourself with the best fare guarantee (if it exists) for your airline or booking service.
  2. Check back on the airline website until midnight to see if the fare drops.
  3. Input your information into Yapta, which will track fare shifts for you.
  4. If the fare drops, follow the instructions provided by the airline or booking service.

Low-fare guarantees

Step 5: Use a travel-bidding site

  • If you are flexible about your travel times and airlines, you can bid for a plane ticket on Priceline. Remember, they can book you to travel at any time in a 24-hour period, so this is only recommended for longer trips - and, according to people who frequently bid on travel, it is much more difficult to get a great deal on these sites than it used to be.
  1. Go to the sites Bidding For Travel or Better Bidding.
  2. On Bidding For Travel, scroll down to the Airline Tickets section, and look for the forum appropriate to your trip. On Better Bidding, go under "Other Deals" to the "Airfare" forum.
  3. Review the posts in the forum to get an idea of the winning bids for trips similar to yours. This will give you the information you need to make an informed bid, as well as an idea of the kinds of flights you might be booked onto.
  4. Go to Priceline.
  5. Click on "Save More - Name Your Own Price".
Figure 3: Priceline's "Save More - Name Your Own Price" link
Figure 3: Priceline's "Save More - Name Your Own Price" link

  1. In the pop-up window that appears, type in your departure and destination airport and dates. Click "Next."
  2. Select the airports you wish to fly into and out of. Note the nearby airports - you'll need this information if you re-bid.
  3. Type the price you want to pay in the "Name Your Own Price" window. Remember, this is the price you will pay before fees.
  4. Type the passenger info into the Passenger and Ticket Information section.
  5. Click "Next".
  6. Review the cost of the ticket after fees. You may find it's significantly different!
  7. If you are still interested, initial the Important Information section, and fill out your payment information.
  8. Click "Buy My Tickets Now".

If your bid is rejected

  1. If your bid is rejected, close your browser, re-open it, and re-access Priceline.
  2. Type in an alternate nearby airport for either your departure or destination airport. Click "Next".
  3. In this window, check the airports you actually want to fly into and out of.
  4. Increase your bid by about $25. Click "Next".
  5. Repeat as necessary until either it gets too expensive or your bid is accepted.

Step 6: Travel light and fly with a courier service

  • Many corporations need to get documents or items to an overseas destination quickly. The best way for them is to use an air courier service; the courier carries the documents or checks the items as their checked baggage, and in return the courier service pays part of the courier's ticket price. Items in checked baggage clear customs much faster than those sent by a shipping company. Don't do this if you like to bring lots of clothes with you; it's strictly carry-on only for your personal gear. You must have a valid passport and be able to fly (in the US) out of New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, or Miami. Destinations are also somewhat limited, and you can't bring a friend or partner.
  1. There are two different ways to find your flight.
    1. Register with a courier service. The fee is usually around $50. The International Association of Air Travel Couriers is well-known and very respectable. Frommer's recommends the Air Courier Association and Courier Travel.
    2. You can save even more money if you do your own legwork and contact the courier services directly. Jupiter Air, for example, flies to Asia.
  2. The more flexible you are, the cheaper you will travel. There are often flights that need couriers only a few days before departure; the cost of these flights are lowered as the date nears. You may need to change your date of travel by a couple of days to get these fares.
  3. Check the courier service's website to see what flights are available. If you see a great deal, book it immediately; prices change frequently.
  4. When you book your flight, the courier service will require a deposit, often of several hundred dollars. This is to ensure you appear for your departure and return flights and will be refunded after your return.
  5. The courier company will send you your itinerary and instructions on where to go and what to do.
  6. Dress business casual for the flight and bring only carry-on luggage.
  7. Courier companies generally have a pre-existing relationship with the airline; they will check the freight for you. You will carry the paperwork and meet a courier company representative at your point of departure and arrival.

General Tips

  1. The more flexible you are about when you travel, the more likely you are to find a cheap fare.
  2. Alternate airports in your departure or destination area may have cheaper fares. Broaden your search.
  3. Spectacular deals don't last. If you see a fantastic flight deal, book it immediately.
  4. Sign up for email alerts for deals on airline websites. Also try Airfare Watchdog's email alerts; they compile all the specials from your selected airport.
  5. Buying separate tickets for each leg of the trip can save you money. However, if one flight is delayed, you may have little recourse if you miss your next flight.
  6. If you will also need a hotel at your destination, booking a package vacation can save you money on both.

Resources for How to Book a Cheap Flight

Cheap Flight and Cheap Travel Search Engines

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Travel Bidding Resources

Courier Resources

Airfare Trackers

General Travel Sites

Articles on How to Book a Cheap Flight

Cheap Tickets & Mileage Running

Wired magazine reports online about the adventures of those who try to snag as many miles as possible. Give one $500 and she'll fly around the world, or the equivalent, it seems.

Here's the report:

A mileage runner might extend his New York to Seattle trip by adding a connection in, say, Miami. Or he might spend 16 hours flying to London, grab a pint at Heathrow, and then immediately board a flight back home. If the price is right, she might fly back and forth between two cities four times in a single day.

For mileage runners, getting there isn't half the fun -- it's the whole point.

"I personally find airlines and airplanes to be really neat," explains Joshua Solomin, a 28-year-old mileage runner who works as a software manager in San Francisco. Solomin began running in 2006 after a year of business travel vaulted him into the Premier tier of United's Mileage Plus program, giving him his first taste of the first-class upgrades and other coveted perks that come with elite-level frequent flyer membership. "Mileage runs are a way to maintain that status," he says.

Of Solomin's five runs to date, one of the more impressive was a trip from San Francisco to Tampa via Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington, then back with connections in D.C., Seattle and Portland. Thanks to his Premier status, he earned double miles for the trip, more 16,000 of them, for just $232.

On Sunday, he completed his first international run: a $1,450 round trip between San Francisco and Singapore with stops in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Sure, he had only five hours in the middle of the night to explore Singapore, but with United's July triple mileage bonus he earned a whopping 78,000 miles. And he flew business class the entire way.

Status is important to mileage runners -- Solomin refers to himself as a "United 1K" the way I refer to myself as a writer -- but there's more to running's appeal than just the airline rewards. "If you like puzzles, it's lots of fun," says Solomin. Assembling a mileage run means deciphering complex fare rules and pulling together information from up to a dozen websites. It's an achievement that tickles the same satisfying problem-solving centers of the brain as a Sudoku puzzle, and always ends in the deep-rooted human thrills of travel and flight.

To get prepared for my own run, I spent weeks lurking on, a message board that serves as a hub for the mileage obsessed. It's the place where runners post their itineraries, search for deals and seek advice from like-minded mileage hounds ("Need help on AA MR from ORD," pleads one post). From there I learn the basics, then start planning a beginner's trip.

Mileage runner Samir Bhatnagar's first trip between Washington D.C. and San Francisco cost $113, and yielded 27,000 miles.

Photo: Samir Bhatnagar

Using Travelocity's Dream Maps, I scour for cheap round-trip flights originating from my home base in Boston. Then I carefully parse the applicable rules and restrictions to figure out when I can travel and to map out various routing options (a BOS-SYR-ROC-BUF-PIT-WAS/BWI-RDU routing rule indicates that if the connections exist, I'm allowed stops in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and either Washington D.C. or Baltimore on my way to Raleigh-Durham).

Finally, I plug potential trips into a little-known travel website run by an airline-software firm that excels at complicated route planning, painstakingly stacking multiple connections like Jenga blocks to create the longest itinerary possible without breaking the fare.

It all seems straightforward enough, but each time I attempt to purchase my flights on Orbitz, a mileage runner favorite that can handle complex, multi-segment itineraries, something goes wrong: There are no more seats, or a connection is too close for comfort.

Finally though, I have my trip. I'll leave Boston on a Tuesday at 6 a.m. and arrive in Las Vegas 13 hours later, making stops in Washington D.C., San Diego and San Francisco. After a six-hour layover in the City of Sin, I'll board the midnight red-eye for Chicago, then fly back through Washington D.C. before finally arriving in Boston at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

I add it all up using a website called Great Circle Mapper: While the nonstop roundtrip comes in at 4,762 miles, my run will yield 6,356. And the whole thing costs just $275.80

Cheap Tickets & Frequent Flyer Miles

Wired magazine online has some good tips on accumulating miles and upgrading to first class and the like:

Five Steps to a Successful Mileage Run

Booking long, inexpensive flights can help you run up the maximum miles. Here's how:

1. Use the interactive maps at Travelocity or FareCompare to find a cheap round-trip flight from your home city.

2. Locate full fare and routing rules for the flight. Many sites offer only a truncated version, but Priceline lists the complete rules.

3. Study restrictions that apply to the flight you've chosen, paying special attention to the routing rules, which dictate how many connections you can make and in which cities.

4. Use ITA's Trip Planner software to build specific itineraries that meet the fare and routing rules.

5. Once Trip Planner has located a trip that meets your criteria, attempt to book it on the appropriate airline's website, or on Orbitz, which is powered by ITA's software. If this fails, contact the airline by phone to book the itinerary, being sure to give the agent the fare and booking codes provided by ITA.

Finding Cheap Tickets

Here's a report from AOL.
You've heard all the basic tips for finding cheap tickets. The airline knows it too.
Book early, travel mid-week, Saturday night stays; you’ve heard the “secrets” to cheap flights before. Airlines have heard them too, and may have adjusted the availability of cheap plane tickets accordingly. Does this mean finding cheap flights will always be an elusive endeavor? Of course not. But, if you think the silver bullet to scoring cheap plane tickets is a mix of surrendering frills and booking at midnight on Wednesdays, you may be blocking your blessings. The key to finding cheap flights is to stay abreast of the slick tricks and search tips the pros use. We’ve compiled some obvious—and some not so obvious—strategies to help put you on the path to finding cheap plane tickets for yourself.

Alerts, Alerts, Alerts

When plane tickets for certain flights aren’t selling, who knows better that prices have been slashed than the airline itself? Take the time to sign up for free email alerts with your favorite airlines on the routes you’re interested in. Even airline tickets booking sites offer free alerts to keep you informed of dropping prices. It’s in their best interest to keep tabs on cheap plane tickets and let you know about it. Worried about spam? Plan on getting quotes from several different travel booking outfits often, as prices may fluctuate as much as three times a day. Email alerts for cheap plane tickets is a small price to pay for the convenience of someone else being on the lookout for cheap flights for you.

Code Sharing

Have you noticed that some flights have two airlines and two flight numbers associated with the same flight? This is a practice called “code sharing” where the same flight is sold by two different airlines, but operated by only one carrier. Many airlines enter into these partnerships in order to offer more destinations to a wider audience, as well as cheap plane tickets. When booking your plane tickets, be sure to ask if the seat you are buying is on another airline’s plane. If it is, get the itinerary and check to see how much the other airline is charging. Chances are you’ll find cheap plane tickets on the carrier proper, rather than the partner.


A major annoyance at best -- and arguably a necessary evil -- are taxes associated with purchasing plane tickets. Some sites don’t offer an estimate of the taxes and surcharges your cheap plane tickets will incur until you are well within the booking process. But these taxes could mean the difference between scoring cheap plane tickets and ending up paying full price. Start your search for cheap flights by noting the taxes involved with buying the airfare in question. Keep notes on where you found which prices, and you can make an educated decision when it comes time to hand over your credit card number.


Many travel booking sites want to tailor your search for cheap plane tickets to your needs, likes and dislikes. In order to do that, they need to “remember” information about when you visited their site, what you searched for, and more via a “cookie”. Cookies are stored on your hard drive, at the websites request, and offer up this important info. The problem is some travel sites will show you the prices of the cheap flights you were looking at in your previous visit, rather than any cheap plane tickets that have come up since then. In order to avoid this, you will need to clean out any existing cookies every time you search for the travel sites to offer up the most current prices. Not all travel booking websites participate in this practice, but it doesn’t hurt to clean them out anyway and put the cheap plane tickets odds in your favor.

On the Horn

If you are having trouble finding the cheap plane tickets you are looking for, don’t hesitate to call the airline directly. There may be a fee for using a telephone ticketing agent, so take advantage of brainstorming options and cheap plane tickets possibilities until you’re satisfied. Travel agents are still a viable option for finding cheap plane tickets not offered through the online travel booking websites, especially for complicated routes and less-traveled international destinations. If you’re searching for popular routes on major airlines, they may have the same cheap flights you can find online, so use your best judgment.

Cheap Tickets & Airline Refunds

Each airline has a different policy on refunds.
Almost everyone has had to cancel a flight or been pushed out by an overbooking or somehow had to deal with an airline on refunds.
Not all of them have great customer service.
Here's the scoop:

If you ever had a flight canceled, been rerouted, dealt with massive delays, or simply found a better deal on a ticket hours after you purchased it, you may have experienced the difficulty of getting a refund from an airline. Well, were here to take you step by step through the refund process and to point out which airlines are the easiest and the most difficult to deal with when asking for money back.

FareCompare’s CEO and Chief Travel-Advocate tested numerous airlines same-day low ticket price guarantees to see who was good and who wasnt so good at giving out refunds.

You can find the details of the airlines guarantees here:

American Airlines Lowest Fare Guarantee
Continental Airlines Low Airfare Guarantee
Northwest Airlines Low Airfare Guarantee
United Airlines Low Airfare Guarantee
Delta Airlines Low Airfare Guarantee


Rick went through the step-by-step process of purchasing a ticket from each of the airlines listed above; then, when alerted to a lower-priced ticket that same day (thanks to FareCompare.coms Email Alerts), he applied for a refund. Rick called his experiment a bake-off; you can click here to see how he conducted his experiment, and read on for the results.


The Details Good, Bad and Ugly

Airline Claim Submittal Receipt Acknowledge Same Day Response Follow-Up Access Rating
American Airlines Online, Easy Quick, With Tracking # Yes, via Email Good, via Email Good
Continental Airlines Phone, Quick Response n/a Yes Excellent, via Phone Good
United Airlines Online, Easy Quick, No Tracking # No, 3 Days With No Response Poor Poor
Northwest Airlines Online, Easy Quick, With Tracking # Yes, via Email Good, via Email Fair (no bonus voucher)
Delta Air Lines Phone, Easy n/a Yes Excellent, via Phone Excellent, Cancel Only

Delta Airlines Pleasant Surprise

  • Delta Air Lines cancellation process was very simple and a very pleasant surprise. Their efficient process makes it easy for the busy air traveler to cancel a high priced airfare ticket and rebook at a lower price without the extra work of proving a claim. The down side of Delta Air Lines process is no bonus certificates are rewarded. However, the benefit of a seamless experience is refreshing and saves valuable time.

Continental Airlines Top of the Pack

  • Continental’s Low Fare Guarantee claims process was the only claim done via the phone. Speaking to a knowledgeable representative on the phone was oddly comforting after going through the online process provided by other airlines. I did have a wait before receiving my refund via snail-mail (a wait that required a follow-up call from me); otherwise, Continental would have easily won the bake-off hands down. The combination of a responsive phone agent and the highest bonus certificate amount definitely puts Continental at the top of the pack.

America Airlines One of the Best

  • The claim process for American Airlines Lowest Airfare Guarantee was seamless and they deserve credit as one of the best of all airlines tested in the bake-off. American would have won the Grand Prize altogether, except for their refusal to honor price drops on their own website (you could only file a claim on a price drop found on a competitors website).

Northwest Airlines Confusing and Disappointing

  • The Northwest Airlines Best Fare Guarantee claims process was seamless and they deserve credit as one of the better airlines tested in the bake-off except for their dual criteria requiring the new lower-price to show up on a competitors site while at the same time not on their website. This was both confusing and disappointing. Northwest Airlines’ policy is the most restrictive of all airlines in the bake-off and their interpretation of these restrictions made it impossible to receive the bonus $50 E-Certificate that we thought was merited.

United The Worst

  • United Airlines Low Airfare Guarantee claims process was far and away the worst of all the airlines in the bake off. The process was completely flawed from the beginning when they did not provide a tracking-number upon the claim receipt, and no other information was available on how to follow-up on the claim after acknowledging receipt.

One would hope that same-day guarantee claims would be processed the same day after all, that is what is required by the guarantees fine print. And, the actual refund provided was a highly restricted E-certificate for a future purchase, instead of a credit card refund.

Cheap Tickets & Flying As A Courier

The New York Times wrote in 2002 about everything you need to be a courier.

Some of the info is out of date.

This game is much tougher now.

It's harder to find opportunities.

But here are the basics:

THE world has shrunk in recent months for those who travel as couriers, escorting packages overseas in exchange for discounted tickets. After Sept. 11, many routes were put on hold by the Federal Aviation Administration for security reasons. But trips to London and the Far East are still available, and bargain seekers heading to those destinations or looking for a quick last-minute getaway may find courier travel a rewarding way to get where they are going.

Courier travel, which has been around since the 1970's and is regulated by the F.A.A., is a way for companies to assure the timely arrival of goods. Some courier companies only do business with shippers like the United Parcel Service and Federal Express, who use the service when it's not practical to send a whole plane; others do business with ordinary companies that need items ferried from here to there as fast as possible -- which means as checked luggage, because items shipped as cargo can sit around for days waiting to go through customs.

In exchange for giving up some or all of the checked baggage allowance, a passenger can buy a ticket for 40 to 85 percent off the regular fare, depending on time of year and destination. (In addition to suspending certain routes for security reasons, the F.A.A. has boosted security measures for courier travel; however, the changes affect the companies, not individual travelers, and so are not being publicized, said Rebecca Trexler, a spokeswoman.)

Flights can usually be booked up to three months in advance; the closer to departure, the cheaper, and last-minute tickets can even be free, with spending money and hotel thrown in to sweeten the deal. Most tickets are round trip and allow for stays from a few days to six months -- and usually passengers can keep the frequent flier miles. The deal is for one person, so a travel companion must buy an ordinary ticket or, with some of the more regular flights, fly in the next day or two as a courier. (On the return flight, when the passenger is usually not acting as a courier, the two travelers can often fly home together.) The company, not the passenger, is responsible for the goods being shipped, mainly documents or computer-related gadgets, and most companies X-ray all packages before accepting them.

To qualify, you must be at least 18, in some cases 21, and have a valid passport. It is the traveler's responsibility to obtain any necessary visa. Tickets can be purchased through courier companies themselves or through clearinghouse organizations that charge a fee. Members of these clubs get access to available flights for the next month or so and are then put in touch with the appropriate courier company.

Either way, passengers end up doing business directly with the courier company. It usually works like this: You choose a flight; the company sends you a contract; you fill it out and send it back with a certified check or money order for the agreed amount; you arrive at the airport two to three hours ahead of time and meet an agent from the company; the agent hands you the ticket and helps you check in (the airlines are often well acquainted with these companies and know the drill); you meet another agent at the destination, hand over the baggage ticket and manifest, and go on your way.

The Clubs

Following are the two most recognized clubs that set people up with courier companies. They suggest you agree on return dates and luggage allowance before booking.

The Air Courier Association offers members ($29 a year, $99 for life) a schedule of courier flights on its Web site. Most are round trips, but ask; current destinations include Bangkok, Hong Kong, London and Manila, with departures from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Also available are courier flights from foreign cities like Montreal, Buenos Aires, Sydney and Seoul. Prices fluctuate but now range from $50 to $1,200 a round trip for advance purchase (up to 60 days ahead of time). Incredibly cheap, even free, last-minute flights are posted on the Web site and go to the first taker. Because the number of destinations offered since Sept. 11 is limited, A.C.A. is offering noncourier round trips from London to most major European cities for $99. Information: 350 Indiana Street, Suite 300, Golden, Colo. 80401; (800) 282-1202;

Founded in 1989, the International Association of Air Travel Couriers charges $45 a year to link you to the 30 or so courier companies it works with. The Web site offers members a list -- updated twice daily -- of so-called last-minute specials, though many are good for months. (When I clicked on ''Advance U.S. Departure Schedules,'' it hadn't been updated for ages -- although the company insists it will be any day). Members also receive a subscription to the association's monthly magazine, with courier tales, news and tips. Most trips these days are to London and the Far East, but flights to South America and Mexico, suspended after Sept. 11, could be reinstated at any time, according to Bruce Causey, president. Current prices include New York to Hong Kong for $300 round trip and San Francisco to Singapore or Manila for $400. The courier association provides telephone numbers for the appropriate courier company or airline, and calls members willing to take spur-of-the-moment trips when last-minute requests arrive. Information: Post Office Box 980, Keystone Heights, Fla. 32656; (352) 475-1584; www.courier .org.

Courier Companies

These are two of the companies the clubs use that allow you to contact them direct, with no membership fee. But the prices are sometimes no lower than a deeply discounted regular air fare.

Air Cargo Partners offers round-trip courier flights from major U.S. cities to London through an exclusive deal with Virgin Atlantic.

Cheap Tickets For Plane Fares

Sometimes roundtrip fares are cheaper than one way.
You'll usually save if you stay over Saturday night.
Book in advance. If you see a great deal, seize it. They don't last.
Here are more tips:

So, what is the best advice to save money on your next flight? Our recommendation is "know what good price is & shop around". When you shop around remember these bargain tips. Here are some practical rules to consider when you want to find cheap plane tickets...

  1. Start as far ahead as you can.
    When you want to find cheap tickets, time is everything. The real cheap discount airline tickets often sell out very quickly. You might have to pay double the price if you book only a couple of days before your departing day. You may be able to save significantly by booking 21-day advance than booking at the last minute. Remember, last minute shoppers are usually business travelers who are willing to pay much higher price for their seats.

    Sometimes, airlines make good discount tickets available toward the end of advance-purchase time limit. But in general, you will have a better chance of finding good bargains if you start looking early.
  2. Make sure to check out Deals & Sales section.
    Airlines offer special sales for various reasons, but mostly driven by promotion or competition with other airlines. It is beneficial to be alert about special sales from airlines because if you are not aware of the sale, you may end up paying for the regular price for the same seat. It is wise to check out the various deals and sales on the web. New sales are announced almost everyday. Deals & Sales section of our site is an excellent source for identifying special offers. You can browse through the most unbiased and complete selection of deals and sales offers from many domestic as well as international airlines.
  3. If you see a good fare to your destination, book it right away.
    Do not expect good fares to stay the same. Sale fare price in the beginning of the sale may not be the same as the one toward the end of that sale. Let's say you came to our site and saw your favorite airline having a big holiday sale. You found a good deal to your destination and the deadline is weeks away. At this point, you may think the price will stay the same all the way until the offer ends, right? You're probably thinking, it's a sale so the price will stay the same. Well, our experience tells the story that the price you saw is not guaranteed to stay the same. Let's hear a real testimony from one of our site visitors.

    On 12/31/04 I was going to book 2 plane tickets for my elderly parents to Boston because they were going to visit my brother and his wife since they just had a boy and a girl twins! It was really exciting. I’ve found a bargain for $96.90 going from Baltimore to Boston, round trip, staying over the weekend and traveling back on Monday. Then I had to find another ticket coming back on Saturday and found a ticket for $111.70 which was also a bargain. I thought this was great, flying was cheaper than riding the train. So, I figured that the fare would stay the same and waited until 1/3/05 to book it. Boy, was I wrong! On 1/3, only three days later, I found myself paying $43.20 more for the same exact flight to Boston, The funny thing was, it was the same flight number too! So, the bottom line is, if you think it is a good fair, book it on the spot. Don’t wait until tomorrow. If you wait, you may be paying more for the same flight.

    I knew that the round trip for $111.70 was a good price and thought that it would stay the same three days later, but instead, the fare went up. Before you book your trip, get a feel for the general fare prices by shopping around. Look into different airlines (I did this on as well as on-line booking sights because it may be worth your time. Once you see good fares, then pick your choice and BOOK IT! Don’t wait till tomorrow! because tomorrow, you might have to pay more for the same flight. This is my experience.
    - From Washington DC

  4. Stay over Saturday night.
    You may be able to save some money by staying over a Saturday night. Why? Business travelers are preferred and ideal customers to airlines because they book seats usually at a short-term notice and they must travel to take care of their business. They are usually willing to pay higher price to get to the destination in time. And many business travelers want to return in the same week usually by Saturday, at the latest. By avoiding times that business travelers prefer, you may save a lot. For example, departing on Monday and returning back in the same week such as on Thursday, Friday or Saturday may cost more than returning on Sunday. You may save even more by returning on Monday rather than returning on Sunday. So, the rule is stay over Saturday night or even the entire weekend. Also, if you are departing on weekends and coming back on the following week days, make sure to compare air fares for Saturday departure and Sunday departure. You may be surprised to find Saturday departure is less expensive in some cases. Again, the rule is staying over Saturday night.
  5. Use off-peak flights and travel on week days.
    Lowest fares are usually found in mid-week days such as Tuesday or Wednesday when the traffic is light. This is because most leisure travelers like to get away on weekends. For example, departing Wednesday and returning on the following Wednesday may cost significantly less than Sunday-Sunday round trip. Off-hour flights such as late night or very early in the morning departure may also help. Also fare prices tend to go lower in off seasons. Typical off seasons are mid-January through March and October through mid-December except for thanksgiving weekend. During holiday periods fares are expensive. However you might be able to get a discount plane tickets if you fly on the holiday itself (e.g., Christmas Day).
  6. Use alternate airports and routings.
    In a large metropolitan area, the fare could depend on which airport you use for both departure and arrival. Make sure to include all the small local airports when you shop around. Some of these smaller airports are some times located conveniently closer to the metropolitan area. One such example is Midway vs O'Hare airports in Chicago area. So, to get the lowest fare, find out about alternate airports and routings and be flexible with your scheduling.
  7. Round trip tickets vs one-way ticket.
    If you are going to buy only one-way ticket, always look into round trip tickets too. Sometimes, round trip airfares are simply cheaper if bought in advance.
  8. Check if there is a special discount for certain groups of people.
    Sometimes airlines offer special discount for certain groups of people such as senior citizens, students, military families, etc.

Cheap Tickets Tutorials

You have to understand how airlines work. You may want to use a travel agent or be a courier.
Research and be prepared for fast changes. There's no magic bullet for finding cheap tickets. Stay flexible and you'll save money.
I loved this article. Hope you do too.


Airline pricing is a complex, unpredictable beast driven by three ugly words: competition, demand, and inventory. Airlines call it "yield management," but we doubt if even airline CEOs fully understand it. How could they? How can any rational person explain why a one-way flight is just as expensive as a round-trip ticket? Or why the only seats from Boston to San Francisco every weekend from now until eternity cost $1,000? Well, you found us in the nick of time, because before you even attempt to buy an airline ticket, you must know the forces at work. Only when you know your enemy may you slay him violently.

All major airlines feed their available seats and prices into four central reservation systems that are owned by various airlines. The systems are Apollo, Sabre, WorldSpan and Galileo (sound like the names of American Gladiators, don't they?). Airlines then change their prices based on demand. If a certain flight is selling well, the price will increase. If another flight has no takers, the fare will drop until the airline gets some. As a result, fares and inventory are changing every minute.

So why is it so hard to keep track of the prices? A bunch of reasons:

  • Internet travel sites and travel agents use the central reservation systems which are updated periodically during the day. The four are not updated at the same time, which explains why different searches may yield different results.

  • The systems also may use different algorithms to search for the lowest fares, which subsequently provide varied fares.

  • Demand explains why it is cheaper to fly on a weekday (when fewer people are traveling), at odd hours, or on days other than major holidays.

  • Airlines change their prices based on competition. If one airline flying the New York-Miami route drops its rates by 20%, chances are all airlines will drop their rates, so as not to give the discounter a competitive advantage.

  • Fare differences can exist for the same route on different airlines because of other factors. For example, if one airline has the market share for that route, it may not need to lower fares to attract passengers.

  • To complicate matters, all this happens at the speed of light. Prices for a specific flight can go up or down even as your travel agent is getting your credit card information from you, so your cheap ticket can be whisked out from under you. And your fare is never guaranteed until you have paid. That's the gamble. Fortunately, it can work both for you and against you.

  • Airlines also use inventory to their advantage and to lure the unsuspecting flyer. They divide seats on each flight into several price ranges and set aside a certain number of discounted tickets. Naturally, the lowest fares draw your attention to advertisements. Of course by the time you call (unless you are quick on the draw) those seats will be gone. Inventory brings us back to demand. If there is low availability and high demand, you will have to wait for a cheap fare. But that does not mean you should give up on a trip that is very popular. Sometimes airlines will change their fares or open up more discounted seats, depending on how sales are going.

Because of all these factors (competition, inventory and demand), it is essential to look around and comparison shop. Regardless of whether you use the Internet or a travel agent, you will come up with a wide range of prices. The challenge is to know how to make the cheap fares yours.


Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for a ticket, regardless of whether you are using a travel agent or the Internet:

  • Start your search as early as possible (at least a month in advance). While better rates may come along, it'll give you a starting point. Also, many deals involve making your reservation at least 21 days before departure. But last minute tickets can sometimes be the cheapest, if you buy a last minute e-fare. These are listed by individual airlines on their websites, or at a travel website such as These last minute fares give you very little flexibility, but they are often very cheap. Read more about this in step 3.

  • Stay vague about your dates. Ask for the lowest fare, saying that your dates are flexible. That lets you know the best fare you could get so you can change your dates if price is the most important factor. Just to let you know, the cheapest dates to fly are usually in the winter, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's time. So if you can be really vague, try to arrange for your flight sometime during the cold season.

  • If you can adjust your times to fly, you increase your chances of getting a cheap fare. Taking the "red-eye" flight can pay off for your wallet because no one wants to depart at 2 a.m. and arrive at 6 a.m.

  • Airlines typically attach restrictions to discount fares, like a 7-, 14-, or 21-day advance purchase and/or a Saturday night stay. Ask about these restrictions, so you'll know what to expect next time so you can start your search early when discounts seat are still available.

  • Use the same airline for both directions. Since round trips are about the same as one-way tickets, it doesn't make sense not to.

  • Keep checking. It behooves airlines to have full planes, so they may add discount seats without warning. A flight you might have given up on could yield you a seat if you checked back in a day or two or even a week or month later.

  • Use your age. Ask about senior discounts or student discounts. If you're a member of Student Advantage, you can sometimes find discounts too.

  • Ask about airports other than your destination's main airport. Look into secondary airports outside the city or even in a nearby city that is less popular. People going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras who find no flights available can get lucky by flying into Baton Rouge, an hour away, or Mobile, Ala., two hours away by car.

  • Check smaller discount airlines that may not be included in the central reservation systems. These smaller airlines usually only have area-specific flights available (e.g., the Southeast), but they are much cheaper than the big airlines. So especially consider them if you're not travelling too far.

  • Join a travel club. If you fly more than twice a year, the price of joining can easily make up for itself in the long run.

  • Fly on a mid-weekday. Fridays and Mondays are the most expensive times to fly. And weekends are obviously in high demand. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly. Also, staying overnight on a Saturday can save you money, because then you'll get charged an excursion rate, not a business rate.

  • Try a consolidator. A consolidator is an intermediary company that buys tickets at a discount directly from the airline. You benefit from their rates. However, while the consolidator industry has gained respect in recent years, be sure to use one that is reputable. Some have gone out of business overnight, leaving customers in the lurch. One way to find consolidators is to look for the small advertisements with 800 numbers they place in the travel section of any metropolitan newspaper. Some consolidators specialize in overseas flights while others focus on the domestic market and still others do both. Some even give additional discounts to students. You also may want to ask about cancellation charges as such tickets usually carry stiff penalties for changes or cancellations.

    Here are the web sites of some ticket consolidators. They use the central reservation systems to find cheap fares but also offer some tickets at an even greater discount.


The Internet has created a whole new world for air travelers. It has given you, the customer, access to the same computer systems that travel agents use (that's why travel agents always seem so sad nowadays . . . ). As a result, you have a lot of control over your time in the air. There are sites that will check the status of your plane, check fares for you, e-mail you when fares in your price range pop up, let you comparison shop, and allow you to buy tickets from the convenience of your home at 2 a.m.

The Internet is most often used as a research tool. Not everyone who finds their best rate online actually buys online, instead turning to the airline or a travel agent. But buying online is a handy option for those who want to get it done as quickly as possible, given that if you don't buy it now, the fare could be gone by tomorrow. Below is a review of some of the most popular Internet travel sites by category.

Trip planners

These sites have several services that slice and dice your flight inquiries in any number of ways. They can search one-way trips, round trips, each leg of the trip, by price, by date, by time, and by multiple airports. And they can bake a cherry pie. They can do it all. They typically also offer services to alert you to when low fares for desired routes become available or to examine baseline fares offered by airlines throughout the year. has airplane seat maps for 13 airlines, in case you want to choose your seat too. Many trip planning sites also have hotel room finders and car rental options. has a Fare Aware option that shows what other passengers paid for a certain trip at the same time last year. For the top 1,000 routes in the United States, the service shows the average price, average number of passengers, what a one-way trip costs, the airline that flies that route the most often, and the low-fare courier rate. While some sites do international flights too, others such as Yahoo! only search within the Continental US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

One other great thing about these Internet sites is that you can often find sweet deals at the last minute. If you want to fly on a whim for the weekend, this is really the best route to go.

Popular sites include:

At, you can do all of the above but also sign up for a weekly email with cheap fares available for the coming weekend from airports you can access. Its flight search option shows all flights leaving the day you are interested in but when you click on the price, you are bounced over to It also advertises the latest travel bargains and ongoing airline sales.

Auction sites

These fall into two categories: the typical auction and reverse auctions. At an auction site, the seller (either a company or an individual) puts an item up for sale to the highest bidder. At reverse auctions, individuals specify the price they will pay for a seat and the airlines either agree to the price or not.

Reverse auction sites include and, a Microsoft-owned travel site that has a feature enabling customers to name their price. These sites are fantastic because you can choose your own price, and you might get the ticket. So all you do is sign on, say where you want to leave from and where you want to go, what dates you plan to travel on, and how much you're willing to pay. The drawbacks are that: 1) you have to put in your credit card number before you know about the exact times of flight, so you're stuck with whatever you get, and 2) you often have to fly at crazy hours. But if you're looking for cheap and you're flexible, this is a great way to go.

Regular auction sites include, which sells available airline tickets and vacation packages. While you can't punch in your destination of choice, the sellers may have tickets to the very Caribbean island you have been dreaming about all winter.

Airline sites

Finally, one way to use the Internet to check for prices is to go to the airline sites directly. All major airlines (and the smaller ones too) have their own web presence where you can book flights. Many airlines have lower fares that you can only get when you book online or when you buy an e-ticket (a paperless ticket). So don't overlook them when searching for fares. Use any search engine, such as or, and enter the airline of your choice to get to its site. But let us warn you that the best deals usually come from auction sites, or consolidators, or special deals. Going to the airline itself should be a last resort.

While the Internet travel sites are unbeatable resources that enable you to see the range of available prices, there is no one site that can guarantee the lowest fare -- no matter what they advertise. A recent search for flights from Boston to Toronto, Canada, on the above sites turned up "lowest fares" ranging from $222 to $500 at a variety of times and airlines. And we're sure that if we surfed for a couple more hours, we could have found a lower rate. The moral of the story: the more time you spend researching, the lower the rate you'll get.

There are some drawbacks to using the Internet. One is that most sites want you to register with them, which means filling out a registration form and thinking up a password that you won't forget. If you can, use the same name and password for all the sites so that you don't forget. Another hassle is entering your pertinent information. There are zillions of boxes to be filled out, so be prepared for some busy work. Once you've registered, you'll probably get constantly bombarded with e-mails from those sites. Those are beyond annoying. A final drawback is the lack of precision in some of the searches. You may have specified you want to leave at 8 p.m. and the site will show you flights leaving at 6 a.m. This is because the 6 a.m. flight is available. But for those who want to keep all of their options open, it is a boon in the search for rock-bottom fares.


Travel agents have an edge over Internet travel sites, because they are trained to work the system. Travel agents know how to use the central reservation systems better and faster to unearth information. They may have access to all airline booking systems, although sometimes they are under contract with only one central reservation system. They also can check fares on lesser-known airlines not in the four systems. Typically, airlines outside the systems are the smaller, discount airlines. Obviously, you don't want to leave them out of your search!

Another travel agent benefit is the access to a wide range of services beyond the flight. A travel agent can provide information about vacation package deals and finalize accommodations and car rentals in one fell swoop. These packages can be amazing, because even if the flight itself isn't such a deal, you might get tremendous savings on hotel prices. Internet travel sites also provide these services, but like the airline searches, they require an affinity for entering dates and specifying choices.

Agents also have in-depth knowledge about your destination and can provide the personal touch, helping you with restaurant recommendations and reservations, for example. When selecting an agent, ask friends and family to recommend someone they trust who has come through for them in the past.

So why not ditch the Internet and go straight to a travel agent? The answer is simple: convenience. While travel agents are a good source of information, they are human and deal with numerous demanding customers such as yourself. That means you may be put on hold or your agent may not be available when you are, whereas the Internet can be accessed at any time. Speaking of the Internet, travel agents abhor the web because it takes them and their commissions out of the picture. Granted, their commissions have dwindled recently because airlines don't want to pay as much. Agents make 5% commission on airplane tickets, which is capped at $50 for a round-trip and $25 for a one-way domestic ticket.

The commission system could also affect how hard they search for the cheapest tickets. While travel agents say they actively pursue the lowest fare for each customer, how much time would you spend tracking down a $200 ticket rather than selling the $500 one? Which ticket makes your 5% commission bigger? That's why you should still do your own independent research on the Internet, even if you use a travel agent (and vice versa). If you find a lower price, throw it in his/her face. Then the agent will know that you're a vigilant consumer and might just give you what you want.


Not a drug courier, silly. In airline lingo, a courier is someone who travels without luggage to fill a seat a company has purchased in order to send goods or papers. So you simply take a seat that otherwise would be physically empty. Companies resell them at massively discounted prices because they need a warm body to accompany their stuff and make sure it gets where it needs to go. It can also be cheaper for a company to sell the seat at a major discount than to send the stuff over via airmail.

The benefits to the company are 1) the swift transportation of important items and 2) faster customs clearance than regular cargo. The benefit to you is a cheap ticket, anywhere from 50% off or more. The drawback of being a courier is the possible lack of advance notice about your flight and traveling with only a carry-on bag, especially for longer trips. But it's crazy cheap, especially for international flights. Note that most courier travel companies require you to become their member for an annual fee.

Some places to contact include:

You should now be satisfied that your relentless search has yielded the lowest fare possible. So book the trip and board the plane. Now you can be the obnoxious seatmate, boasting about your unbelievably cheap fare. Isn't irony great? Sit back, enjoy the ride, and don't forget to pass the peanuts.