Northwest Travel Planning
Cheap Airfares (page 2 of 3)

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a service to Go Northwest! visitors and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. All information should be independently verified.


As mentioned in the overview, the do-it-yourself approach requires research. Read on for tips on finding air tickets on the web.

Step 1.
To get some background on the the air ticket market (online and offline), read the FAQ by Edward Hasbrouck about airline tickets, which is posted monthly to the Usenet newsgroups and Hasbrouck is a travel agent who specializes in international airfares. Here you will learn that domestic and international airfares are entirely different markets (with the exception that flights between the USA and Canada are similar to domestic USA flights), and "the optimum consumer strategies for dealing with them, have nothing in common".

Step 2.
Next you will want to find out which airlines serve your destination airport. This is subject to change as airlines add services to cities, and discontinue other services, so be sure to check each time you are planning your travels. Search via the airline on sites such as Fodor's Air Travel Tips and All Airlines of the World, or search via the airport (at either end of your route). See the Go Northwest! travel planning page on Airlines for those serving the Northwest, as well as information on Northwest airports.

Money-saving tips:

  • Be creative when choosing a route between you and your destination. For example compare the cost of changing flights at a major airport, with taking a direct flight. Determine for yourself whether the associated hassles are worth it.
  • For international travel, be aware that those airlines underwritten by their national governments (non-U.S.), may offer better prices.

Step 3.
You might also wish to stay abreast of discounts and special deals offered on the airlines, web sites:

  • Look for a section on vacation packages. These might include accommodations, cruises and car rentals.
  • Look for a section on specials.
  • Look for a section on "e-saver fares". Airlines are using the internet to increase leisure travel on the weekends, and other low times. Business travelers, who make up the majority of passengers, usually travel Monday through Thursday.
  • Sign up with their email newsletters by which airlines alert customers about their special deals.

Step 4.
Now you will want to comparison shop on your chosen route/ itinerary. Looking around on various web sites is the only way to know if you are getting a good rate. You will go to the same web sites, where eventually you will purchase your air ticket online, so bookmark your favorite web sites as you go. Try the following types of web sites.

  • Airline home pages
    See the Go Northwest! visitor information page on Airlines for homepages of those serving the Northwest.
    U.S. domestic travelers note: Airlines are prohibited from offering special deals to Internet customers only, in a Senate bill passed September 15, 1999, as well as in voluntary service improvement pledges filed by individual airlines with the U.S. Department of Transportation and which take effect December 15, 1999. Also included in the program is the promise to offer customers the lowest fare for which they are eligible.
  • Web-based ticket sales robots, on reseller and consolidator's pages.
    Such as, Cheap Seats Travel, Cheap Tickets, Expedia,, Internet Travel Network (ITN), Kayak, LowestFares, Travelocity,, Web Flyer.
    These major online reservations web sites will probably be using one of four airline-fare search engines: Sabre, ITN's Flight Rez, Galileo/Apollo, and Microsoft's Flight Wizard. These sites aim to make it easy for you to find and compare airfares, but you might want to supplement their information with the other types of sites.
  • Auction sites
    Such as Priceline and Travel Bids.
  • Traditional travel agents with web sites.

Compare prices across the above types of web sites. Also, be sure to compare the final cost, and not just the price of the ticket itself.

And remember, if you do have contact with a "live person" in any part of the process, you can always ask if they have any special deals, or if the price will be cheaper if you change your travel dates.

Read on for tips on buying air tickets on the web...

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