Cheap Flights 101

Other Tips and Alternatives

Along with the other billion (or so it seems) travel-deal websites out there, there is a unique species that monitors the search engines and airline sites and highlights the best deals. continually updates postings on the most outrageous plane ticket, hotel, car, and cruise sales, and has a team of editors that post travel-tip articles for these ever-changing times. has a search engine and keeps excellent tabs on fare wars between airlines, such as when a particular city might be the center of downward-spiraling fares for a limited period of time.

Some sites, like adventure-centric, also specialize in a particular niche of travel, offering package trips that take care of all the details. Costs vary widely, and in some cases airfare isn’t included in the quoted price, but the expertise afforded by working with industry leaders could offer the assurance you need to make your vacation stress free.

So many budget travelers have discovered the air courier trick that flights to Sydney for a quarter and a smile are more fiction than fact. However, there is still a nice load of mind-bogglingly cheap ones—provided you’re willing to make a few trade-offs. Here’s the deal: By law, all baggage on commercial flights must be accompanied by a passenger. For many companies, sending goods on commercial flights with a passenger is far faster than shipping, so they look for passengers willing to fly on short notice, with great flexibility, and with no personal baggage other than carry-ons. The upshot as a courier is that all you really have to do is pack frugally, sit on a plane, carry the customs papers, and hook up with the appropriate contacts at the airport, and you’ll get great fares: Think Amsterdam for $125 or Bangkok for $275. Membership to the Air Courier Association or the International Association of Air Travel Couriers costs about $50 and gets you access to detailed information on the courier life and daily flight options. But keep in mind: flexibility is key—if you’re aching for a two-week break from a grueling nine-to-five gig that can’t be left at a moment’s notice, courier flights probably won’t work. But if you’ve got some flex in your schedule, it’s a great way to save cash and see the world.

Published: 15 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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