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Weekend Internet fares

Earlier, we said not to reply on airline sites for your fare information.

These sites—those of the older airlines like United—are usually your worst sources for low fares, except when you're booking far ahead.

However, exceptions are the last-minute weekend specials found on most major airline sites.

While these don't tend to be as good as they used to be, some still are attractive.

Be flexible

Weekend "Internet Specials" work best when you have no specific destination in mind.

"I want to get away from this wickedly cold weather" works better than "I want to go to Tucson."

Finding weekend fares

Check airline sites to find out when their weekend Internet fares go on sale.

You'll want to be first in line to book.

Most airlines will put you on an email mailing list to let you know what they have available.

Every week (except around major holidays), usually Tuesday or Wednesday, airlines in Canada and the U.S. post fare specials for the following weekend on the Web. Some airlines list Internet bargains for trips starting two weeks away.

Why? Because once a plane takes off with an empty seat, the chance to sell that seat is lost forever.

True, there are disadvantages.

Depending on the airline, you may have to travel solely between Friday and the following Tuesday.

And, make sure that suitable hotels are not sold out before booking your flight. Destinations like Honolulu and Las Vegas may run out of hotel rooms before they run out of room on flights, especially during peak times like New Year's weekend.

Obviously, last-minute Internet fares are cheaper and more likely to be available when you avoid the crowds.

Alternatives to airline weekend Internet fares

These types of weekend fares may also be available on sites like Hotwire.com and Priceline.com.

Using these, you may have more freedom to travel on the dates you want.

HOWEVER, we do not recommend using Hotwire's "Hotwire Limited Rate" or Priceline's "Name your own price" services for a 3-day trip.

Why? Because you do not pick your departure times, you could end up leaving late on the first day and coming back early on the third giving you just one day at your destination.

Sample itineraries from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC

A student or other budget traveller in this region could realistically plan the following trips on long weekends:

  • Early September: Denver to visit Rocky Mountain National Park before snow closes its main road.

  • Early November or early December (avoiding U.S. Thanksgiving period): Orlando and nearby attractions via a less popular airport like Melbourne or Jacksonville if Orlando is not available.

  • January or February: Toronto nightlife and culture.

  • March or April: Quebec City or New Orleans.

Sample itineraries from Southern California

Similarly, a student or other budget traveller in this region could plan to visit:

  • Early September: Denver for Rocky Mountain National Park before snow closes its main road.

  • October or early November: Las Vegas or Honolulu (during the slow season for each).

  • January or February: San Francisco or Austin, the live music capital of the United States.

  • March or April: Tucson (or Tucson via Phoenix airport).

  • Early May: Reno Airport for the Lake Tahoe area.

Make sure you check out fares from all the airports in your area.

Most of all, don't be fixated on one destination or one date.

Be flexible, and get a super bargain!

Go on to Budget airlines.

For more airfare savings tips:

Go to >> Airfare savings introduction
Go to >> Finding cheap fares
Go to >> Last-minute fares
Go to >> Combining fares
Go to >> Open jaws & circle trips
Go to >> One-way (single) airfares
Go to >> Bereavement flights
Go to >> Weekend internet fares
Go to >> Budget airlines, or Southwest Airlines
Go to >> Bucket shop fares
Go to >> Visit North America fares
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