How to game Continental's new FareLock service

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Airlines think that all the world's problems can be solved with fees.

Yesterday, Continental Airlines announced a new way to book fares on its site. If you like a nonrefundable fare but aren't ready to commit, you can lock in the option to buy the ticket for three days if you pay a $5 fee—or for as long as a week for a fee of up to $19 per ticket.

Budget Travel tip:

Use FareLock to your advantage.

1. Find a fare you like on Lock it in by paying the fee.

2. Comparison shop elsewhere. [Explanation: FareLock is only available if you book on directly. One danger of shopping directly on any airline's own site, however, is that you might fight a cheaper fare elsewhere. So go comparison shopping on other sites to find the best deal going.]

3. Sign up for automatic alerts on your preferred flight. Go to Kayak/Yapta ( and sign up for free e-mail alerts on the flight that you like. If you find a fare that's much cheaper (because fare prices rise and fall every hour), you can take advantage of it before the clock runs down on your Continental deal.

Other websites also provide fare alerts that can do the job, such as Airfarewatchdog and

Alternative strategy:For maximum savings, be flexible on flight times and airlines. Go instead to FareCompare and click the My Trips/Alerts tab. Sign up for e-mail alerts. Click on the link "Add a Trip," and request track fares for the next few days. You may find a lower fare on a different airline at a different set of times and airports.

Continental is the first U.S. airline to provide this helpful option. Note: This FareLock service differs from saving a reservation for 24 hours, which has been a standard feature for years.


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