Airfare selection saga

By WillTravel,

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I am going to post an abbreviated history of trying to find the lowest fare for my prospective trip to London (and on to Scandinavia), just in case it's useful to anyone trying to get a low airfare.

* I signed up with Travelocity's Fare Watcher service so I could keep track of how fares were changing.

I checked the major airlines' sites on a weekly basis or so. I'm also signed up with Expedia.

* I regularly checked various itineraries with Expedia and Travelocity. (Since I am departing from YVR, many American-oriented services like Orbitz weren't as useful. I did check sometimes to look for fares out of SEA, but mostly decided any savings (and there really weren't any) weren't worth the extra hassle.)

* I regularly checked the relevant charter airline sites, Air Transat and Sunquest, and their resellers.

* I kept a lookout for companion flies free programs. None were useful to me, but for some people they might be. Virgin Airlines currently has a deal I just read about today.

* I signed up for a variety of airline emails announcing specials.

On Sunday, I noticed a sudden drop in Air Canada's international fares. A few hours later, I got an email about a seat sale, which ends on April 24 (for international flights). The fare for the dates I wanted was now $1030 Canadian, including all fees.

The cheapest charter airfare (on Air Transat) at this point was $1079 Canadian total. I suspected it would go down due to Air Canada's seat sale. It did. The cheapest airfare total now is $934 Canadian.

Note that Expedia has Air Transat fares, but they are charging about $300 Canadian more than what I can get from the site directly, or from some travel agent sites (like www.itravel2000.com - which I used successfully last year).

The disadvantage of charter flights is the impossibility of changing times or dates. But Air Canada charges a fee for this, and our dates are pretty solid. I will purchase trip cancellation insurance (although this doesn't cover "change of mind"). The charter flights are nonstop and at a more convenient time, compared to Air Canada. I haven't purchased these tickets yet, but I probably will.

Of course I can't use Priceline or Hotwire for flights originating in Canada, so that option was out. I also wouldn't use Hotwire anyway, knowing they might have a layover of up to 18 hours on international flights.

* To summarize: track fares from a multitude of sources over a period of time.

* Also, take Internet advice with a grain of salt :) :

Posters on newsgroups a few weeks ago told me that Air Canada would not beat its fare of $1500+ Canadian total to London -- but it did by about $500.

(Note: $1 US = approx. $1.50 Canadian)

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Tickets purchased at $934 Canadian each total from itravel2000.com (hope no one minds the plug for them, they've been good travel agents to me).

Air Transat has a limited promotion for a discount for a second passenger, but since my son is in school, I can't travel during the allowed time period.

Manulife has a travel insurance policy, including trip cancellation insurance, trip protection, and health insurance, for $119 Canadian each total.

Now - I can torture myself for the next 2.5 months, looking for a slightly better deal! I am almost certain, though, that the most the price will decrease will be $100 Canadian or so, and the price is more likely to go up.

My next plan is to consider using Priceline in Scandinavia.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ack - the airfares I purchased to London have dropped in price! I can't help but keep on checking. They have dropped by about $100 USD each on the exact times I have now. Ryanair also had a sale on the airfares I purchased within Europe, and I would have saved about $35 US there per person. The currency rates are currently in favor of Canadians, so the Priceline rates I got for London would possibly also have been cheaper for me (but not by much really).

The bottom line, though, is that I had no choice but to book the tickets at the lowest price I could in April, since at that time I had to make all the arrangements to get that precise period of time and to make them free of any work obligations. But I'm living proof that you do not necessarily get the best deals by booking early!

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