For Discounted Airfares Uses These Top "Bucket Shops"
By working with an airfare discounter, you can save as much as 50 percent off the cost of your next ticket
In the past decade and a half there's been a veritable explosion in the number of airfare discounters operating in the United States. And while as many as half limit themselves to the sale of international tickets--to Europe and Asia, to Central and South America, to Africa and India--a good number of the larger sellers routinely promote cut-rate tickets within the US, saving consumers as much as 30 to 50 percent off the cost of a domestic flight.
A few of the domestic airlines confine that sale to limited periods of the year; some confine the destinations to long-range flights (like between Boston and Los Angeles); some to particular days of the week. But there are indications that the possibilities will grow, and at least ten major consolidators now claim that they have frequent supplies of domestic air tickets for sale at discounted rates. I list them in no particular order of preference:
For airfares within the US
1-800-FLY-CHEAP(800/FLY-CHEAP) Large (more than three million tickets since it began in 1989) firm claiming to offer savings on most advance-purchase tickets. A subsidiary of industry giant My Travel Group. Web: flycheap.com.
Cheap Tickets, Inc.(800/377-1000) This giant among air consolidators can cut the price of an advance-fare ticket practically anywhere in the world by 15 to 25 percent, very often more. Web: cheaptickets.com.
Cheap Seats Travel(800/243-2773) A primarily domestic specialist (though there are many international options) that offers discounted prices for flights on several major carriers. The firm also works with several smaller upstart carriers, offering discounts of around 20 percent off published prices and up to 70 percent off last-minute deals. Web: 1800cheapseats.com.
AirDiscounts(866/4LOWAIR) A division of Archer Travel Service, Inc. (in business since 1952), AirDiscounts.com lets you search for roundtrip, one-way and multiple city flights online but recommends that you call it directly for the lowest fares. Web: airdiscounts.com.
CheapAir, Inc.(800/CHEAP-AIR) A division of American Travel Associates, this 15-year-old specialist in domestic airfares offers flights to smaller cities, last-minute savings and some international bookings. Its discounts average 25 percent. Web: cheapair.com.
Both domestic and international airfares
Priceline.com(Internet only, call 800/774-2354 for customer service) You specify the price you're willing to pay to fly to and from a city on particular dates. If an airline accepts your price, you're obligated to fly on the routings and times of day they choose. An immense firm that can save travelers up to 40 percent off published fares. Web: priceline.com
Hotwire(Internet only, call 866/HOTWIRE for customer service) Travelers choose their itinerary and Hotwire fires back the lowest price. Discounts are available on cars and hotels as well as air tickets. The four-year-old company is owned by several big airlines. Web: hotwire.com.
Orbitz(Internet only, call 888/656-4546 for customer service) Not a consolidator per se, Orbitz offers fares from a choice of over hundreds of airlines. Pick the dates and Orbitz provides a list of the cheapest airfares. Car rentals and hotels rooms are some other features available on the site. Web: orbitz.com.
Expedia The largest of the web-only air sellers. On its site, along with car rentals and hotel discounts, is a build your own package feature, allowing customers to book air and hotel in one easy step. Go to expedia.com or call 800/EXPEDIA to learn more.
Destination Europe Resources(800/717-4247 airfares; 800/782-2424 other travel products) Acquired by the Rail Europe Group, this long-established firm that claims to provide discounts of 20 percent to 35 percent on advance-purchase European airfares also offers a full range of other discounted travel services. Web: http://www.dertravel.com/.
STA Travel Inc.(800/777-0112) STA is the major student travel firm with tickets to Europe (25 percent to 30 percent off published fares, it claims) but offers domestic savings as well. Cheap backpacker-friendly hotels and hostels worldwide are another specialty. Web: http://www.statravel.com/.
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