Tips on Getting the Best Fares
1) Book directly Through United Airlines. Book online at www.united.com or by calling 1800-864-8331. If you come to the airport to book a flight you will be charged a $35.00 fee. Also if your flight is delayed or canceled, United will text or email you the information as soon as the change is made, along with additional info to re-book you if necessary. If you book through any travel website, you will not get notifications of delays or cancelations, which could cause you to miss a flight or connecting flight.
2) Book as far in advance as possible. Airlines have complex algorithms that change fares based on a number of factors, size of the plane used, popularity of the route, number of seats remaining, and number of days until the flight. The closer today's date is to the flight, the more the seat will cost you, or if there are only a few seats left on a flight it will cost more then too. If you can book 6-8 weeks out from your trip that is always good, but at about 3 weeks out is when the airline will start ratcheting up the airfare, unless for example that you are trying to come back to Paducah the first part of QuiltWeek, and as the plane fills up the fares go higher, even if its months away.
3)Travel Dates do matter...sort of. While there isn't a day of the week that's busier persay than any other, from Paducah, nationwide the story is different. Monday is probably the busiest travel day of any week, because that is when a lot of business travel occurs, the same is true about Friday. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are usually dates to get better rates, again because overall travel volumes are low.
4) Don't be afraid of making a connection, (in Chicago or anywhere else) We all love the convenience of direct flights, airlines know this. So often times a seat on a non-stop flight will cost more than a flight with a connection. And since airlines are all about feeding their hub airports, often times you will fly "out of the way" to do so, no matter the airline. At the same time airlines are reducing the number of non-stop flights, making a seat on one even more of a premium. The craziest most counter intuitive part of these factors is that it is now possible to get many places sooner with a connecting flight, than it is to bend to the schedule for a direct flight, and save money in the process.
This is why we say geometry teachers hate aviation. Because the shortest distance between two points isn't necessarily a straight line. As a case in point see our blog post Paducah vs. Nashville.
To learn more about why and how the aviation industry has changed, or see other topics that can help you become a smarter flyer see our other blog posts.
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