When I first saw this picture, I thought (with a long sigh) “oh, I would just love to buy a ticket and fly away.” Now, with three flights to Colorado, one to Sea-Tac, and one to Monrovia, Liberia to arrange this year, my romantic vision of air travel almost went the way of the Zeppelin.
And then I got myself into a routine:
– Know your airport(s) – Southwest may be a great (and cheap!) airline, but if it doesn’t fly into your airport, what’s the point in drooling over their prices? Most airports these days have a list of the airlines that fly in/out of them. Many even will tell you which routes on which airlines are direct flights. A quick glance at the airport site(s) will give you an idea of the airlines you’re up against.
– Check airline sites – I have been stranded in Africa, France, and India, each time having to deal with both a low-cost travel site and the actual airline. Nine times out of ten, the airline customer service won. Ok, ok – airline prices can be (a lot!) more expensive if you buy direct (riddle me that Batman). But not always. I often find the prices on Delta and American‘s sites to be comparable to the “deals” on a low-cost travel site. And, to me, $5-$10 extra is well worth the extra customer service to help out with any unexpected, oh sh*t moment.
– Use the +/- 3 days tool – Travelocity has this great tool where you can search for U.S. domestic flights on the dates you select, plus 1-3 days on each end. Even though I prefer, if I’m going to use a low-cost site, to patronize Expedia over Travelocity I will still plug my preferred dates into their tool to see if I can find an even cheaper date to fly. Some airlines also have a tool like this, but it’s specific to their airline and thus may not bring up the overall best deal.
– Don’t look back – Once you’ve executed your search and purchased your flight, stop. Don’t second guess your purchase, the time of the flights, the price you paid. Don’t keep checking sites to see if you could have gotten a better deal or to see if the prices somehow went down after you bought yours. Check flights off your list and put all of your energy toward that trip you’re about to embark on.
No, flying somewhere isn’t as easy as walking into an airport, buying an affordable ticket, and taking off to the great unknown. But the more you buy flights and familiarize yourself with the resources out there to help with that purchase, the more stress will be replaced with the words of Old Blue Eyes – “Come on and fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away…”