Airline Travel on the Cheap

Today, more than ever (and especially considering the shaky nature of the global and U.S. economies) those traveling by air are on the active lookout for airline tickets that aren't going to cost them the proverbial arm and a leg. Well, at least not an arm. Most people figure they can get by with only one leg, these days.  


I'm just kidding about the arm-leg thing, maybe. But maybe not, especially if really cheap airline tickets could be had. In that case, I might even consider leasing out a couple of my sister's kids to do a bit of car washing and house cleaning for the travel agency folks or airline ticket counter managers who could get them for me and my wife. 


Actually, it really doesn't have to be that hard, nor should most air travelers look at scoring cheap flights  as something akin to finding the single black grain of sand on a mile-long stretch of sandy beach in Hawaii (though it'd be nice to fly there and spend a few decades doing so).  


In fact, all that's really required is a bit of vigilance and a willingness to buy a ticket at the last minute, in many cases. The vigilance part comes from watching the airline websites for price drops and rises, which will occur on any given flight on a constant basis throughout the ticket-selling life of that particular flight.  


Now given that we're all running around with phones, smart phones and other electronic devices sticking out of our ears or other parts of our body, it ought to be easy enough to keep abreast of these changes, wouldn't you say? Sure you would. 


In fact, price drops and rises are a constantly occurring event, as blocks of tickets on a flight are priced at varying levels according to a number of factors, some of which are fairly straightforward but a few of which are exceedingly obscure. All of these factors are rolled up into a program which most airlines call "yield management," or "revenue management" (on a broader scale).  


Regardless, if you can do a bit of study and then are willing to play a last-minute game (or a game in which you buy a ticket for a flight very, very far into the future, perhaps up to a year) then you really can find cheap airline tickets. Be prepared, though, to accept certain restrictions, which all airlines -- including even most low-cost carriers (called "LCCs" in the business) -- impose on most such airline tickets which are sold at what even discount-oriented travelers might consider fire sale prices.  


As an example, a Detroit (DTW) to Orlando (MCO) flight might list for nearly 400 U.S. dollars, round trip, in the days leading up to the scheduled departure. However, in the last couple of hours before the flight is supposed to leave, at a time when the airline begins to look at putting somebody into an empty seat, regardless of what it might make on the ticket, there have been known price drops to around 120 or 130 U.S. dollars, round trip.  


All legacy airlines operate on this sort of yield management theory, which says that it's always better to park a behind in an empty seat and make any amount of money rather than none at all, if the plane leaves the gate with nobody sitting in that seat, other than some "non rev" (airline employee, like I used to be) who's hitching a ride somewhere.  


This is so even if the costs involved in fuel and other ticket price inputs are greater than what's earned from selling the ticket at that price. Money is money, and better to have a little, right? So be brave, be smart and be ready to travel at a moment's notice! Cheap airline tickets are out there, if you know how to get at them.

Source by Tony Guerra

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