Students seeking bargain airfares
From Anne Marie Razza, Orbitz.com
(Orbitz) -- Untamed wanderlust and a meek budget: It's an
unfair, but common malady on college campuses. Luckily, it's
There are many ways for students to snag a bargain airfare
using the Internet. But you have to consider what type of
fare you purchase; who is selling the ticket; as well as when
and where you travel. Here's some advice -- and some caveats
-- for finding budget-friendly fares:
TYPES OF FARES
Orbitz, for example, has partnered with Student Universe,
an online travel site for college students and faculty. Students
or teachers register with an ".edu" e-mail address, which
must be verified before "qualifying" to receive travel discounts.
Choices of airline or departure time may be limited, but the
savings can be worth it. You can make a reservation only for
yourself through Student Universe.
If you're traveling with a companion, you might want to check
online travel agencies for companion fares -- specials
for parties of two or more traveling together. To get these
fares, you and your companion must always be on the same flight.
If one person changes flight plans, that could mean higher
fares for each traveler -- even the passenger who adheres
to the original itinerary.
Web-only fares are another category of bargain fares
available only through the Internet. For even deeper discounts,
look for Weekend Web Fares. Airlines trying to unload
inventory release these fares early Wednesday morning for
travel beginning Thursday, Friday or Saturday and returning
Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. It's perfect for a last-minute
trip. Orbitz' Flex Search also provides an easy, quick way
to find the cheapest weekend to fly in a month.
Some sites, like Hotwire, also allow you to bid on fares.
However, you don't find out the airline or flight times until
you make the purchase. Some students also swear by consolidators,
who re-sell tickets they have bought in bulk from the airline.
Other adventurous types choose to fly internationally as a
courier for a shipping company. In exchange for a cheap
seat on a courier flight, you typically forfeit your checked
baggage allowance (the freight fills your checked-baggage
allotment) and may be required to hand off courier documents.
FLEXIBLE TIMES, PLACES
You'll have a better chance of finding a cheaper fare if you
avoid peak hours of travel, such as early morning and
late afternoon. Midday departures and red-eyes are often cheaper.
Additionally, try departing midweek, such as Wednesday or
Thursday, and return on a Monday or Tuesday.
Another way to find low airfares is to choose a less-crowded,
less-expensive airport to fly into or out of. The airport
may be farther from the center of town, but the low airfare
and savings on the flight may offset the extra cost of a taxi
or rental car. Alternate airports include Midway in Chicago;
Burbank and Orange County in Southern California; Providence,
Rhode Island, and Manchester, New Hampshire in the Boston
And don't forget about off-season opportunities. Choosing
to visit a location when the tourist season is waning can
be a great way to score a reasonable airfare to a pretty cool
place. Plus smaller crowds usually mean shorter lines at attractions
and more opportunities to meet locals.
The last piece of advice is to avoid paper-ticket fees.
Pick an e-ticket over a paper ticket when given the choice
between the two. Unlike a paper ticket, e-tickets carry no
extra processing and shipping fees. Plus, they're impossible
to lose -- an excellent feature for those who keep their dorm
rooms, let's just say, less than fastidious.
Anne Marie Razza is a 24-year veteran of the travel industry.
Copyright 2002 Orbitz.com