Looking for Cheap Airfare?

Finding the Cheapest Airfare

Many of my guests have asked me if I can help them find the cheapest airfare for their cruise vacations.  I think we all know that airfare prices continually change, so finding the lowest price for airfare from any airport requires time, luck, and preparedness.  Here are my best suggestions! 

Airfare is often available through the cruise line.  Their prices are usually not the least expensive, and you have no control over your flight itinerary, unless you’re willing to pay a premium to specify your specific requirements for your flight, like airline, connections, flight times, etc.  And, there’s a commonly held myth that if you purchase the airfare through the cruise line, they will make sure you get to the ship.  If you miss the ship due to flight delays, the cruise line will assist you in finding flights to catch up to the ship, but those additional costs are still your responsibility.  I’ve often recommended purchasing airfare through Norwegian Cruise Lines for their 7-night Hawaii island-hopper cruises, because those prices were so low.  Guests has to understand, however, that the cruise line still has complete control over their air itinerary, so any flight purchased through a cruise line could include multi-leg flights, overnight flights, and flights that forced an overnight stay in port. 

Once in a while, a cruise line will offer a cruise price offering “free air” or discounted air.  Sometimes this is a great deal, and sometimes not, so you have to check the price every time to see if it’s a great deal for you.  One of my guests purchased a Canada/New England cruise with $99 airfare from LAX to NYC.  What a great deal … or was it?  The airfare turned out to be an overnight flight that arrived the day the cruise departed from NYC, so these guests were tired when they boarded the cruise from flying overnight. 

I can assist you with airfare, but my prices may not be the lowest price for every trip.  If you simply want me to take the hassle out of planning your trip, taking care of each piece, I can find a competitive airfare to purchase for your trip.  It may not be the best airfare you will find if you check airfares everyday for weeks.  I can bundle the airfare purchase in my services, but if you really want the lowest price even if it requires more time and effort on your part, read on. 

First, being prepared is the most important thing in paying the lowest price for airfare.  When you’re checking for airfare, have your credit card by your side, ready to use if the best price appears.  Airfare prices change so fast, that I’ve lost airfares in the amount of time it takes to get my credit card out to use.  Even doing this, you could see the fare change before you get it purchased, but at least you were prepared. 

Second, remember that the lowest price for your cruise may not simply be the lowest price for the dates of your cruise.  I always recommend that folks fly in the day before their cruise leaves to avoid the stresses of flight delays that might cause you to miss the ship and to have a good night’s sleep in port, ready to board the ship early the next morning.  Flight delays are becoming more and more common these days, caused by bad weather, mechanical problems, and staffing issues.  If any of these problems occur on not only your flights, but any of the flights coming in to serve your flight, you may miss the ship.  We thought it would be safe to take a direct flight from Little Rock to New Orleans the day of the cruise, but our plane’s arrival was delayed by thunderstorms in Atlanta.  Enough said? 

Flights home the day the cruise returns should be scheduled no earlier than Noon in most port cities, and even later than that in other ports.  (Check the cruise line and airport recommendations to find the earliest recommended time.)  With the high number of cruise passengers requiring flights, those afternoon flights will be more expensive.  Flying home a day later often garners you a lower flight cost, but you have the additional costs of staying an extra night in port.  Regardless, make sure the flight times work with the time it will take you to disembark the ship, gather your luggage, find your ground transportation, travel to the airport, check-in, pass through airport security, and arrive in your gate.  We’ve done the O.J. Simpson run through the airport, and it’s just not as much fun as he makes it look in the commercials!

When I’m looking for airfare for our personal trips, I check several discount online websites to find the lowest price for the trip.  Once I see the best price that they’ve sold recently and the price they’re currently selling for, I know the price I’d like to pay.  Here’s some of the websites I check: 

Remember to also check those discount airlines that service your specific airports.  For us, that includes Southwest Airlines, and for some of you, it may include Jet Blue and Spirit.  Some of these websites allow you to set up a “Fare Watch”, where you’ll receive an email when the price drops.  I love those features, and I’ve bought the lowest fare a few times, because of one of those emails. 

I’ve noticed that airfare prices often suddenly drop on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and rise again on Thursdays and Fridays.  Since prices are based on demand, this matches my experience with client calls.  In my experience, more of you get serious about shopping for trips later in the week, rather than earlier in the week.  So, if that’s true, then the airlines raise prices during the high demand time toward the end of the week.  Early in the week, they then run a statistical analysis to determine which flights are selling well and which are not, adjusting the prices accordingly.  Suddenly, those new prices will appear … whenever each airline completes that process.  So, you may see a great price on Delta, then a new price on Continental, and on.  If you know the price and flight itinerary you want, and you have your credit card out beside you, you’ll be ready to grab that lowest price! 

Cruises that are not roundtrip, but instead begin and end in different ports are a little more challenging to track lowest price.  If you’re lucky enough to begin or end in a driving distance port, you’re simply looking for a one-way flight to or from one port.  Most of these discount online websites have a button to click for a one-way flight, as well as a button to click for an open jaw flight or multiple city flights.  You’ll be using that feature when you need to fly from home to one port, then fly back home from another port.  For these cases, check the airfare using the open jaw or multiple city button, but, then also check each as a one way flight.  Sometimes you’ll find the best price in the open jaw/multiple city search, but other times your best price will be two one-way tickets purchased separately. 

Last, but not least, be sure to check prices for the nearby airports.  If your cruise departs from Miami, be sure to check flights from both Miami and Fort Lauderdale.  West Palm Beach is a little further drive still, but sometimes you can get such a great deal from there, that it makes renting a car worthwhile! 

These are my best tips for finding airfare for your trips.  If you’d like for me to take the hassle out of purchasing airfare, give me a call, and I’ll buy it for you at the best price I can find at that time.  But, if you’re a bargain shopper, this should give you an edge.  Good luck! 

Category: Airfare, Cruise  Tags: ,
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