image Congratulations, you sold your boss on the many Autodesk University takeaways, and Viva Las Vegas! Of course for you to take anything away from AU, you have to get there first. For many just convincing your boss to lay down the cash to go to AU was probably difficult enough, and you haven’t even booked your flight. With corporate budgets tighter than ever and airfare prices increasing every day, how can you insure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck?

Before continuing I should mention that I am by no stretch of the imagination the world’s expert on travel. Instead I am just a geek who has spent many hours searching the internet trying to find the best deal possible. After all a geeks worth is measured not by what he/she knows, but how well he/she can Google – right?

Types of Airfare Sites

  1. Aggregators
    These sites employ a model similar to a search engine like Google. They do not sell the airfare, or even book it. Instead they search a compilation of sites in an effort to locate the best fare available. Since they neither sell nor book flights, they generally make their money with affiliate hotel deals and on-site advertisement. Many of the best deals can be found on these sites.
  2. Booking Engines
    Booking engines are similar to aggregators in the way they search multiple websites to find the cheapest price on a flight. Unlike the aggregators, these sites do however book a flight on behalf of an airline, collecting a small fee in addition to the price of the flight.
  3. Airlines own Website
    Especially for flights found on booking engines, you’ll want to pay a visit to the airlines website to see if you can get the flight without the booking fee. Additionally some airlines (Southwest) do not share their fares to the aggregators.

When to Book Your Flight

New fares are generally applied at midnight, so 12:01 am is generally the best time to score an awesome deal on a flight. I have not personally had a chance to try this theory, but I have seen Wednesday mentioned as the best day to book airfare. The theory behind this one is that airlines post their new fares on Friday, other airlines generally react on Monday, and Tuesday is the “price war” day. Therefore the dust settles with the fares posted Wednesday. It’s suggested the cycle then begins all over on Thursday (fare increase).

Finding a Flight

There’s certainly no shortage of travel websites among the ranks of the internet, but which ones are actually worth going to. Personally my preferred site has been Kayak.com. It’s an aggregator, and has done well by me when it’s come to finding the cheapest fare. Another popular aggregator has been Sidestep.com, which is now owned by Kayak.com.  Another aggregator that has caught my attention of late is Farecast.com.  Not only does it find the cheapest flight, it predicts ticket prices seven days out. 

 

With that my suggested method of attack is as follows; start with the aggregators, proceed to some of the budget carriers, finally end with the booking engines.

  1. Aggregators (Start with these)

  1. Kayak.com

  2. Farecast.com (MSN)

  3. Sidestep.com

  4. Farechase (Yahoo!)

  5. Farecompare.com

  • Airline Websites (these airlines are known for their cheap rates, and somewhat common omission on aggregators)

    1. Southwest

    2. Jet Blue

  • Booking Engines

    1. Travelocity

    2. Orbitz

    3. Expedia

    4. Cheaptickets

    5. Hotwire

    6. Priceline

    7. Mobissimo

    8. Trabber

    I will once again mention the booking fee charged by the booking engines.  Oftentimes you can use one of the booking engines to find a flight, and then go to that airlines website to book the same flight without the booking fees.  Booking direct with the airline isn’t always the cheapest, but is certainly worth checking out.

    4 thoughts on “Getting to AU on a Budget

    1. This year the company is only willing to foot part of the AU bill, so I’m traveling on my mileage account. Hints for using miles are to book as early as you can, and watch out for mileage specials. Credit cards (or in my case, my cellular provider) might offer a deal that will push your balance up into the free-travel range.

      Meanwhile, I HAVE traveled a lot, and I have one MAJOR piece of advice.

      Be nice.

      People in the travel industry deal with frustrated, tired, angry, drunk, etc. people every day. Picture yourself in that job – how will you react to the rare passenger that smiles and says thank you?

      You never know when the person across the counter has the power to make your day – and you never will if you act like a jerk.

      Sounds like a good plan for life, actually…

    2. This year the company is only willing to foot part of the AU bill, so I’m traveling on my mileage account. Hints for using miles are to book as early as you can, and watch out for mileage specials. Credit cards (or in my case, my cellular provider) might offer a deal that will push your balance up into the free-travel range.

      Meanwhile, I HAVE traveled a lot, and I have one MAJOR piece of advice.

      Be nice.

      People in the travel industry deal with frustrated, tired, angry, drunk, etc. people every day. Picture yourself in that job – how will you react to the rare passenger that smiles and says thank you?

      You never know when the person across the counter has the power to make your day – and you never will if you act like a jerk.

      Sounds like a good plan for life, actually…