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How To Find And Book Low Fares

First rule is to always look for your fares as far in advance as possible. If you know when you are going to have to be in Tiny Town start looking for either the best fares or, the best fares with the most miles... Generally, the two are not separated by more than a few dollars. Check several sources to find the best price as some of those sources may have a direct discount with a particular carrier. Those sources can include online sites, your personal travel agent, and a friend who travels and who may have a discount coupon they will give you and the airlines themselves.

Online sites can do several things. First they can check your travel dates and immediately tell you what the cost for your itinerary will be. Or they will allow you to locate fares by fare basis, which is put in the city pairs and return a fare that will link you to the rules associated with the fare. While many parts of the fare base rules are difficult at best to read, a little applied logic will tell you that a fare base that ends in "21NR" is a 21 day advance purchase non-refundable. It will also tell you when you can and can not use that fare, beginning and ending travel dates and whether or not a Saturday night stay is required. Some online sites will actually send you updated fares whenever the fare changes by $25. Others will send you a weekly update of fares, not to be confused with weekend special web fares, which will allow you to keep attuned to changes in the markets you travel.

Travel agents are an excellent source of information and fares. They too may have discounts with particular carriers or access to consolidator tickets that can save you money but may not award frequent flyer miles. And, if they have been in the business for awhile, they will have a feel for sales and seasonal changes to fares.

If you have a friend who flies often, ask if they have any coupons for discounted travel. At any given time, I have 4 or 5 coupons, which can show substantial savings over published fares. Many times, they expire before I can use them even though I share them with friends and family members. I will cover coupons in depth later but understand now, that they are one of my main "secrets" to traveling cheaply.

Don't forget the airlines. While they will not offer you an unsolicited discount (you have to have a coupon number or some other offer reference and ask for the discount) they will find the cheapest travel for the times and dates you specify... This is where the second rule comes in.

Second rule is to be as flexible as is possible. Tell whomever it is you are working with your options. If you are traveling from New York to Los Angeles, these options can grow exponentially. You can depart from three major airports in New York and arrive at five in Los Angeles and, those fares can be very different. At times, several hundred dollars will separate the same trip between different airports in the same market. Provide your agent, airline or web site a window of days for your trip. After all, you are at leisure. The more flexible you are the better your opportunities become.

Third rule is to follow up, follow up, and follow up. Once you have found that low fare between X and Y, check back every few days. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that the fare has fallen due to a fare war.  If that reduced fare is in your class/fare base, your ticket will most likely be reduced, they will give you an MCO (Miscellaneous Charges Order) Exchange Coupon for use on their airline for the difference in the fares. If you are not a frequent leisure traveler and won't use the MCO, most airlines will allow one transfer or use by a family member with the same surname. The real secret here is to ask politely but persistently. If you don't get the answer you were expecting from the first reservation agent you speak with, call back and talk to another.
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Anchorage, AK (ANC) Alaska
Atlanta, GA (ATL) Georgia
Atlantic City, NJ (ACY)
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Birmingham, AL (BHM) Alabama
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Boston, MA (BOS) Massachessets
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Chicago (CGX)
Chicago (MDW)
Chicago, IL (ORD) Illinois
Cleveland OH USA US  Cleveland (CLE) 
Columbus, OH (CMH) Ohio
Corpus Christi, TX (CRP) Texas
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Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
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El Paso ELP)    
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Fort Myers, (RSW)
Ft. Worth, (FTW)  
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Houston (HOU)
Houston, (IAH)
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Jackson, MS (JIA) Mississippi
Jacksonville (JAX) 
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Little Rock, AR (LIT)   
Long Beach (LOB)
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Louisville, KY (LJC) Kentucky 
Marco Island (MRK)
Memphis, TN (MEM) Tennessee
Miami (MIA)
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Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP) 
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San Antonio (SAT)
San Diego (SAN)
San Francisco (SFO)
San Jose (SJC)
San Luis Obispo (SBP) 
Santa Ana (SNA)
Santa Barbara (SBA)  
Sarasota (SRQ)
Savannah (SAV)
Seattle, WA (SEA) Washington
Spokane (GEG)  
Steamboat Springs (SBS)
St. Petersburg (PIE)
Tallahassee (TLH)
Tampa (TPA) 
Tucson (TUS)
Tulsa, OK (TUL) Oklahoma
Vail/Eagle (EGE)
Washington, DC (IAD)
Washington, DC (DCA) 
West Palm Beach (PBI) 
Monterey (MRY)
Nashville (BNA)
Newark, NJ (EWR) New Jersey
New Orleans, LA (MSY)
Newport News (PHF)
New York, NY (JFK)
New York (LGA) 
Norfolk, VA (ORF) Virginia
Oakland (OAK)
Oklahoma City, (OKC)
Omaha, NE (OMA) Nebraska
Ontario  (ONT)
Orlando (MCO)
Philadelphia, PA (PHL) 
Phoenix, AZ (PHX) Arizona
Pittsburgh (PIT)
Portland, OR PDX) Oregon
Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU)
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