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Planning Airline Travel

Twin Wolf Technology Group

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I have just completed planning and purchasing airline tickets for a month long visit to multiple cities in the US.   Using the Internet to do so is a must and can be an exhausting process.  If you are looking for the best deals with cheapest prices, things have changed in recent years.   It used to be a quick visit to (Oribiz.com, Expedia.com, or Travelocity.com ) would be a great place to compare fares and find a good deal.   Then, over time I noticed that sometimes going direct to the actual airline website gave a better deal or other flights that were not advertised.    That made the process of getting the best deal a lot of work.

There have been many other websites that advertise "cheap tickets".    Visiting most of those is even more time consuming and rarely did I find better deals.

That all changed when I have discovered two websites that gave significantly different and better information when planning a trip with cheaper airfares.

The first one is called Sky Scanner.   
https://www.skyscanner.com/tips-and-inspiration/best-time-to-book-usa
Not only do they give great pricing deals, they have a tool that shows how many weeks in advance to book plus many tools to find the very best deal.   I used it extensively and was impressed with the volume and detail information available.  We planned many one-way hops and the prices varied greatly.   It is now my "go-to" website for getting airfare information, tho I often still book with the actual airline.

The second one is called  Skip Lagged
https://skiplagged.com/
This site has some useful information but is more aimed at a traveler that does not have and checked luggage.   Often times airlines will have flights that are multi-stop and are cheaper than direct flights to one of the layover points.   I never understood why flying further was less expensive - can't we just pay by the air mile?   

For example, say you wanted to fly from Atlanta to Denver.    The airfare for that direct flight might be more expensive than a flight that goes from Atlanta to Portland, with a layover in Denver.    So you could purchase the longer flight to Portland but you would not board the plane for the second leg from Denver to Portland, thereby getting to Denver on a cheaper airfare.    This would not work if you had checked luggage since your luggage would go all the way to Portland.   On the other hand it provides a useful option for some people.  They also give a very interesting graph of airfare prices between now and when you plan to go, helping you see when the cheapest times are to fly.

So, if you are planning a flight, I would suggest checking out these two sites.    Then book direct with the airline or take the information to your favorite travel agent.   I have easily saved almost $1,000 over our extensive trip.   I only wish I had learned of these tools earlier. 

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We also use Google Flghts (https://www.google.com/flights/) a lot - very easy to use and a lot of useful features (monthly price view, price tracking, etc), and they  suggest the best price/site to purchase the tickets (normally direct with the airline).

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All of this is complicated when booking to travel out of Panama and you're eligible for the jubilado discount. I do some online searching and then go to Anavilma with the info so as to get the discount. Thanks for all the tips.

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It is easy to get your jubilado discount with Copa. Send a scanned copy of your Cedula/Visa card to docs@connectmiles.com, at least a few days before you want to book your flight.

Make your reservation and check the 24 hr hold. Call Copa, ( or whatever airline you are using) with your reservation number and they will process your ticket by credit card, get your discount, seat assignments without any service fees. They will send you by email your receipt and confirmation tickets. 

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Unfortunately, Copa doesn't take me where I usually need to go. I haven't found a way to get the discount directly with Delta, and I don't intend to spend any more time trying to find out if I can. The travel agency service charge of $20 is worth it to me as it saves a lot of time. However, I do Internet research and approach Anavilma with what to me looks like the best schedule and price. Sometimes she finds better prices and schedules.

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Hola Dan, 

There's also another site, Matrix, which compares fares offered by different airlines.  You can't book direct on this site  but it gives you price comparisons and the airline name so you can go direct to the airline website, find that fare and book.  It's http://matrix.itasoftware.com/  I've used it a lot.  I just got a $99 fare from Cancun to Houston direct.

Saludos

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