Domestic and International Flights Tips

The Internet is a powerful vehicle for shopping for all sorts of products and services, and the travel industry was one of the first e-commerce categories to truly embrace the power of the "InterWebs". But increasingly, we hear from people who are incredibly frustrated searching for flight deals online. Their common complaint is, "Every time I check the prices, the airfares have gone up".

Their frustration is justified, but it's also avoidable. There's no reason that the prices should routinely bump up within hours of your previous search, but they do.

Here are two tips for getting the best prices for airfare, for domestic and international flights:

For domestic flights, you can absolutely find amazing deals online, but you have to search for them differently. When you search for flights online (or for anything else, for that matter), your activity is tracked and recorded by the websites you visit. That's why it's not unusual to see an ad for a product you were looking at, even when you're on a completely different website, hours or even days later. So when you search for airfares, many websites notice, and because they want you to buy now (and from them), they hike up the price on those flights in hopes that you'll think, "Wow, I better book these before they get too expensive". It may not seem fair, but it's reality.

You can avoid this artificial price gouging, and it's actually really easy to do. Just set your browser to "private browsing", and information about your searches won't make its way to the websites you're looking at. If they don't know you're searching for specific flights, they can't take advantage of your activity and adjust the prices. It's that simple.

For international flights, we have a different tip, and it's equally simple. Use a travel agent. While you can find great domestic flight deals if you do it correctly, travel agents have access to resources consumers can't get to, which makes researching and pricing specific international flights much easier. A travel agent will have relationships with "consolidators" that buy lots of seats on flights at volume, and because they are wholesalers, they buy those flights at a discount and offer their inventory to travel professionals to serve their clients. For example, they see cruise fares, tour fares, and otherwise unpublished options that consumers won't find on Expedia or other sites. And they can combine flights in ways consumers can't, too.

A friend called me a while back, frustrated that he couldn't find business class flights to Amsterdam for less than $3000. I took down his information and asked him about the hotel he wanted to reserve a room for before we ended our call. I searched my resources, and found the same business class flights, plus two of his three nights at the hotel, for just a little more than he would have paid for his flights alone.

Now, travel agents aren't always able to find such great deals for their clients, but they typically can find better flight combinations (with more appealing layovers or fewer connections) and lower prices, than consumers can find on their own. And since most of us don't charge a fee for our services, we will always save you time and headaches!

So for domestic flights, turn on "private browsing" before you start your flight prices search... and for international trips, call a trusted travel agent to do the heavy lifting for you. You may be surprised that you don't have to burn sunny Saturday afternoons trying to find that great deal.