Airfare for the Wayfarer
By Frederic Madore
Have you checked the price of airfare lately? Are you like myself, and quite afraid to contemplate that you're going to spend that inheritance from Aunt Tilley on a flight to LA? For the general public, air travel is still an occasional event, and airfare is still comparable to a surprise attack of influenza.
We all will agree that air travel is much nicer than the open road (and faster), when you're in a hurry and in a compact car. Airfare, however, is not the pleasant experience that air travel is. Airfare, once you're past the sticker shock, is a confusing subject. The prospective traveler can go online, and check for cheap, discounted airfare, on several websites that are independent of any airline sponsorship. What you will find is a confusing list of possible flights, possible fares, and a message that alerts you to hurry to book at these discounted prices. At this point, I generally long for a course in Airfare 101.
Okay, everyone here's your Basic Instruction class. There are roundtrip tickets, last minute tickets, discounted and bargain tickets. First class, coach, and business tickets; Oh yes, and let's not forget, the International airfare tickets. Those are the tickets that come with nitroglycerin tablets as a complimentary gift.
Roundtrip airfare refers to flight purchases that allow you to go to and from your destination on just one ticket. This is the most desired form of travel, and quite frankly, often the cheapest. Last minute airfare can cause nosebleeds. The tickets can be purchased online, but only after you mortgage the farm, and promise your next child to Delta. Low cost, bargain, and discounted airfare is usually available thru websites like Cheap Seats, Priceline.com, and VacationsToGo.com. The prices are often a great deal, if you don't mind the occasional bump" when too many seats are booked, or you can plan and purchase 2 years in advance. The classification of business, first class, or coach tickets would refer to your seating accommodations on the aircraft. The most desired seating would be the first class section. Here, seats are big, roomy, and stuffed with the softest feathers on the market. Wine, cocktails, and a great meal are often standard fare on flights offering first class seating. Coming back to reality, however, there is business or coach for the rest of us citizenry who must actually purchase our own tickets.
Lately, with all the bad publicity that international tourism has been receiving (thanks to the terrorists), international airfare has seen modest decreases. Of course, really wonderful destinations like Paris, Rome, and London are still purchased with the complimentary nitroglycerin tablets.
As a seasoned traveler, I can promise you that even with this highly educational course, you won't be any clearer about what you need, when you need it, as you purchase your next airfare. You will never be able to pin the airlines down as to their exact formula for pricing options, mostly because they don't have one. The last lesson in Airfare 101: As you prepare to purchase your next airline tickets, you can throw out all the rules and formulas, close your eyes, and just pick one!
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