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1.7. Key advice about air transportation

The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

from The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World

and The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

by Edward Hasbrouck


  • Don't waste your time getting prices directly from the airlines. Because of the regulation of international airfares, travel agents can sell tickets for less than the airlines themselves. Airlines can't give you any information about travel agents' discounted prices. There's no relationship between which airline has a lower official fare and which airline has a lower price from agents.
  • Plan ahead. To get the best price on a complex multistop international flight itinerary, you need to buy your tickets at least a month in advance, preferably sooner. Start planning even earlier to leave time to work out your itinerary.
  • Know where you want to go before you consult a travel agent. There is no standard route or fixed-price "go anywhere" ticket around the world. Before you can begin to get price estimates you need a list of specific desired destinations.
  • Find a travel agency that specializes in tickets for independent world travellers. Around-the-world and multi-stop airline tickets are a small and esoteric specialty. Don't expect much help from airlines or all-purpose travel agencies.
  • Choose a travel agent as you would choose any professional consultant. You're buying service and advice, not a commodity. Differences between good and bad agencies in quality of service -- especially after you've paid for your tickets and hit the road -- are far greater than differences in price.
  • Buy your tickets from an agency that shops the global market in airline tickets. Buy your tickets far enough in advance for your agent to be able to import them for you from wherever in the world it's cheapest to have them issued.
  • If your travel agent won't customize your route and tickets to suit your desires, find one who will. Buying tickets from a limited menu of "standard" options, or that don't include all the flights you will need, is likely to cost more in the long run.
  • Buy air tickets locally only as a last resort, if you can't get tickets on certain local airlines in advance or if you can't decide in advance what route you will follow. Expect to pay significantly more for the flexibility you gain by buying tickets as you go.
  • Include as many of your flights as possible in the package of tickets you buy in advance. The more tickets you have to buy separately, at the last minute, or along the way as you are traveling, the to higher your total ticket cost is likely to be.
  • Don't postpone buying tickets just because you aren't sure of your travel dates. What you lock in when you buy your tickets are the price, airlines, route, and departure date. The rest of your flight dates can usually be changed for little or no charge.
  • Insist on confirmed reservations for all flights before you pay for any tickets. So-called "open date" tickets have many drawbacks and no real advantages compared with tickets with confirmed but freely changeable dates.

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"Don't believe anything just because you read it on the Internet. Anyone can say anything on the Internet, and they do. The Internet is the most effective medium in history for the rapid global propagation of rumor, myth, and false information." (From The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace, 2001)

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