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Flights cheaper as date appraoches, Cheap Flights OnLine
By: Michael Shapiro (justin) 2011.02.12


"If you have plenty of time to travel, then you probably don't have much money; and if you're earning lots of money, then you probably don't have much time." So goes the old saying, but most students don't have much time or money, which is a good reason to shop online. Checking fares on the Internet lets you quickly see your options. Sometimes the best deals are found by clicking the mouse rather than picking up the phone.

The first discount fare site that comes to mind for most people is Priceline. You may have heard William Shatner "sing" the praises of Priceline, the site where you can name your price for airline tickets, rental cars and hotel rooms. But what if you're not comfortable bidding for travel products, or if you can't live with Priceline's severe restrictions? (Priceline lets you pick travel dates but not flight times or airlines.) Well, there is a slew of new travel sites that offer bargains with better terms.

Hotwire launched in October and is similar to Priceline in that you cannot choose travel times or airlines. But there is a key difference: Hotwire doesn't ask you to bid. The site shows you the best price for that route. Of course, you still have to be flexible; your flight may leave anytime between early morning and late evening, though Hotwire will not put you on an overnight flight unless you agree.

Travelbyus is the first site to deploy a revolutionary flight search tool that shows more options than any other service. The same tool, developed by a little company called ITA Software, will be used by a new mega-site called Orbitz, which goes into beta in February. Either of these sites are a good place to start searching because they provide a broad view of different options.

Qixo scans about a dozen online travel sites, including budget outlets like CheapTickets.com to find the best price. So Qixo can help you save another valuable commodity: time. Similar sites include FareChase.com and Sidestep.com.

Savvio lowers the price for flights as the departure date approaches. This makes sense because once a plane flies, an unfilled seat is worthless. Though Savvio's prices aren't usually as low as Priceline's or Hotwire's, there's no risk of getting stuck on an unwanted 6 a.m. departure because you can see flight times before deciding to buy. Savvio plans to focus on overseas flights to Asia and Europe, but the company also features domestic airfares.

At iDerive you buy a discount ticket, but if the airline needs the ticket back to sell to a higher paying business traveler, it bumps the iDerive customer five days before departure. For getting bumped, you get a full refund, plus a sizable bounty. Say you spent $150 to fly to Phoenix, you would get a full refund plus another $125 to compensate for your trouble. With a motto of "Save or get paid," iDerive targets the ultra-flexible traveler, like students who'd like to get home to see their families but don't necessarily need to go. Maybe a better motto would be "Get bumped without driving to the airport."

These new sites aren't the only places for students to find good deals on airfares. One of my favorites is AirTreks.com, with a feature called TripPlanner that lets you check fares for various international routes and round-the-world itineraries. Another great site for students is Council Travel, which offers special deals, especially around spring break when bargains are hard to find. Council Travel is also a great place to check out hostels, score rail passes and get international IDs.

OneTravel.com is another discount site. Its White Label fares are similar to Priceline's deals in that you don't get to pick the airline. By being flexible about flight times you can often uncover good deals here. OneTravel also has a cool service that will alert you with e-mails about weekend getaway deals and other Net-only specials. Another site that will compile Net-only fares and send them via e-mail is SmarterLiving.com.

A good way to save money is via tips from other travelers. Lonely Planet is just one of many sites with active bulletin boards. And these virtual interactions don't just happen on the Web; try Topica.comfor finding e-mail lists about destinations you may visit or scope out relevant newsgroups. Finally, consider checking your local paper's Sunday travel section.. Sometimes the best deals can come from some little discount travel agency near campus.

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