Cheap Fares

  Here is some brief but useful information on how to get the cheapest fares for travel. It's ugly, and not very well formatted, and way out of date. But it's full of good ideas, some of which might still be useful, so I keep it posted for you. But please do not send me updates for this page. I will not maintain it.


Smarter Living   Smarter Living has excellent listings of cheap fares worldwide. Be sure to subscribe to the various weekly news letters by e-mail from Smarter Living.  You can get listings of last minute bargain fares from your airport, internet only fares, senior and student bargains, and a newsletter on frequent flyer miles.  This newsletter has provided me with many fares I would not have otherwise known about.


Travelocity's Dream Maps   Travelocity's Dream Maps allow you to write in your origin city and maximum price you will pay. It give you all fares it has within your limit to any destination in the world. Cool, but I suspect that the fares are limited to those sold by Travelocity. You might do better elsewhere.


Team Clark Howard   Team Clark Howard's Consumer Action Center has very good listings of bargain fares worldwide.


Digital City   Digital City has excellent listings of bargains within and traveling from particular cities. First click on the link above and then in the URL try replacing sanfrancisco with the largest city near you. It that doesn't work, click here, enter your zip code, navigate to the major city near you, then add "travel/deals.adp" to the URL, making it look like, except with your city in it. I have no idea why they make it almost impossible to find that page, yet obviously spend so much effort maintaining it.


Budget Travel   The layout of Budget Travel's site is a mess, but the information it contains is a virtual gold mine of travel savings. You can find cheap fares and accommodations, US travel agents specializing in specific travel locations worldwide, and travel agents in the country you will visit. Well worth plowing through.


CheapTicketsLinks shows some useful links to the author's favorite sites for cheap tickets. I often use them to get starting prices, but I prefer to deal with the airline directly whenever possible, to avoid gettting caught in the middle of two companies denying responsibility for errors. I won't repeat the links here. The author is an editor for BootsnAll, so it is his business to know. He promises to keep this page up to date.


Fares within the U.S. lists the cheapest fares within the U.S. listed on the WORLDSPAN RESERVATION SYSTEM. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on your departure city.) But this system does not include Southwest Airlines and other low fare, no frills airlines. Read on.

Southwest Airlines seems to be the price leader in the U.S. Youths at least 12 years old but less than 22 years old should ask about Southwest's special youth fares, but be aware that they may be hight than promotional fares. Occasionally they have fare sales that sell out quickly. To be informed in time to buy a ticket, subscribe to their e-mail service. Your favorite airline probably also has such a service. Just go to its home page. Note that Southwest does not use the same reservation computer system as the other airlines. Consequently, outfits like Travelocity will not tell you about their fares, which are usually lower than anything Travelocity quotes. So be sure to always check with Southwest directly for any trip within the US.

Southwest's business model is so good that others are starting to imitate it and compete with it. Two of these are AirTran and jetBlue. Their routes are not as extensive as Southwest's, but if they fly where you want to go within the U.S., they might have the best fare.

Green Tortoise runs very inexpensive bus tours and transportation in North and Central America. It is an unusual program that would appeal especially to young people.

There are several bus lines that run very inexpensive routes between the various Chinatowns of cities on the East Coast and between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. They are open to everyone, but read the Frommers article on them first.

  • Frommer's write-up on these lines.
  • Fung Wah Bus. Boston and New York.
  • Travel Pack. Boston and New York.
  • New Century Travel. New York and Philadelphia; New York and Washington, D.C.
  • IvyMedia.
    • New York and Washington DC
    • New York and Boston
    • New York and Baltimore
    • New York and Philadelphia
    • New York and Richmond, VA
    • New York and Atlanta
    • New York and Cincinnati
    • Los Angeles and Las Vegas
    • Los Angeles and San Francisco
    • San Francisco and Reno (with casino rebates)


Europe   If you are flying from the U.S. to Europe, be sure to try Icelandaair They are to flying across the Atlantic what Southwest Airlines is to flying in the U.S. There is a special two for one deal for members of the free Amtrak Guest Rewards program.

Here is a great link for cheap rail fares in Europe:

There has been an explosion of cheap airfares within Europe. New airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair, europebyair, Virgin Express, and Europebyair offers a $99 "flight pass" between most European cities. Please tell me when this offer changes or disappears.


Asia   A web site with a good reputation for flights to and within Asia is Singapore based zuji.


Council Travel   I've had really good luck with Council Travel. Great fares for everyone, but especially good if you are a student, youth, or teacher. They often have contracted fares that no one else has. The on-line search engine for fares works only for students, youths, and teacher. If you are not one of these, call 1-800-2COUNCIL or your local Council Travel office, and be prepared to wait on hold for a long time.


Students   Smarter Living has a page that lists all sorts of good deals for students. Look at the index on the left side of the page.

Also reputed to be good, especially for students (but I haven't used them, since I lost my student body long ago): STA Travel (A UK company specializing in cheap lodging and travel in Europe for full time students.)
The STS Travel Group.
Travel CUTS / Voyages Campus (A Canadian company)
Acotra (A Belgium based company specializing in student travel to Europe, Africa, and The Middle East.)
Student Universe.

Greyhound offers discounts to students on bus trips within the U.S.

The Mileage Workshop has a section for students that lists opportunities for cheap fares in addition to mileage offers.

The Arthur Frommer web site has a useful article on cheap rail and air fares for students.


Seniors   US Air sometimes has special fares for AARP members. Other airlines have senior discounts. Ask, if you can remember...


Consolidators   Consolidators buy tickets from airlines in bulk at a discount, then sell them to you cheap. They often have many restrictions, so be sure to read the fine print. First read Arthur Frommer's excellent write-ups describing and listing his favorite consolidators. In a newsletter of 2/3/2003 he recommends and New Frontiers for travel to Europe. Then consider: (formerly is an association of consolidators that lists their flights on one convenient site. Please let me know your experiences if you use it.  I haven't.

A local (to me) travel agent who deals with all consolidators is Journeys International in San Anselmo, California (but they will deal with anyone anywhere). 1-800-835-4959. They gave me an excellent fare to Switzerland summer 1999.


Courier Service   If you are willing to take only carry-on luggage, are flexible, and are traveling alone, courier service may be the way to go.  These involve the opportunity to fly to international destinations at low, low rates by restricting your own luggage to a small "carry-on" and thus transferring your suitcase privileges to the courier company.  You "accompany" such a suitcase or packet of papers and parcels so that they may be delivered overnight to business concerns at the destination.  By doing so, you fly to overseas locations for a fraction of the usual price.  Arthur Frommer says 'Time was when close to twenty major air courier companies competed for your business.  But, although the twenty still exist, a great deal of the courier business has gravitated to two firms: Halbart Express (for destinations in Europe, primarily) and Jupiter Air, Ltd. (for destinations in Asia).  Although several other courier firms still enjoy substantial business, Halbart and Jupiter have grown so powerful that you might save yourself considerable time by calling them first with your courier needs.  Halbart Express has offices in New York (718/656-5000), Illinois (847-806-1250), and Los Angeles (310/417-3048); Jupiter has offices in Illinois (847/298-3850), northern California (650/697-1773), and Los Angeles (310/670-1198).  With coverage that broad, they've achieved a great deal of clout. And you'll want to react accordingly.


Auctions   A very interesting new concept is auctions of tickets. Try Skyauction. bid4vacations, and Be very certain you understand all of the fine print, including restrictions on the ticket, and extra service charges. Please let me know about your experiences with these companies and any other company that auctions tickets. I am out of date on this industry.


Australia and New Zealand   Aussie Bound? Look into the Qantas Boomerang flightpass. For just $150 or so, you can fly between most any two places that either Qantas or Ansett (New Zealand) flies. But you must purchase it outside of New Zealand or Australia.

Drive n Drop pairs up drivers with people in Australia who need to have their cars driven to somewhere else within that country. You get free use of the car while driving it to it's intended destination.

I found an interesting oddity in airfares within New Zealand which may be applicable worldwide. When buying a ticket from Auckland to Christchurch, it is much less expensive to buy it from a travel agent in New Zealand than from anyone in the United States. So when I wanted to fly from San Francisco to Christchurch via Auckland, it was cheaper to buy a ticket to Auckland in the U.S., and contact a New Zealand travel agent to buy my ticket from Auckland to Christchurch. My luggage was checked through when I showed both tickets to the agent at the San Francisco airport.

I found the New Zealand agents who are on line in by putting something like " New Zealand travel agents" in a search engine The specific listings for New Zealand are at The Travel Agent's Association of New Zealand, but perhaps this policy exists in other countries, too. Please let me know your experiences with trying this.


Fly Free   Of course, the cheapest way to fly is free.  There are many, many ways to get free frequent flyer miles on the internet without doing much of anything.  I have earned over 200000 miles this way.  To find out how to do it, click on the Free Frequent Flyer Miles link to the left.


Ground Transportation   Once you get there, usually the cheapest way to get from the airport to your lodgings is public transit.  Here are five very useful links to web sites of local transit systems:

The Transportation Directory
United States Local and State Transportation Web Sites Index
International Transportation web sites
Subway Navigator
The Subway Page