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Learn2 Shop for Bargain Airfares (continued)
Step 4: Put your modem to work

A number of travel sites, such as Travelocity, Preview Travel, and Expedia to name a few, give you direct access to onlinereservation systems like those used by travel agents. Just enter the dates and times you want to travel, and they'll search for the lowest fares available on regularly scheduled flights. They'll also notify you of any special sales.

Unfortunately, the process can take time, especially if you have a slow modem. And since the systems generally require specific dates and times, you might not learn about all the deals available to you if you're more flexible.

Keep in mind that even the most big-budget travel website doesn't guarantee you the lowest fares possible...just the lowest fares in their system. Also, you'll find that the search systems aren't as flexible as, say, a good travel agent: you can tell an agent "just get me the cheapest flight leaving the first week of November and getting back sometime in February; I don't care when I land at either end." Most online systems, on the other hand, usually start with the assumption you not only know your exact travel dates, but the travel times (give or take an hour).

Take advantage of e-mail services
Several major airlines now have special services that automatically notify subscribers of special discounts by email. Besides regular sales, some companies provide last-minute bargains. For example, on Tuesday you might find out there's a special available for the following weekend only.

To sign up, simply go to the airline's homepage and search. If your itinerary is fixed, or you need to travel immediately, this option may not work for you. But at least you'll learn about upcoming specials on a regular basis.

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Step 1: Call a courier company
Step 2: Consult consolidators
Step 3: Check out charters
Step 4: Put your modem to work
Step 5: Research rebaters and travel agents
Step 6: Call airlines directly


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