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In the Suitcase: Debunking the “Tuesday” ticket-release theory

It’s one of those old wives’ tales of the airline industry: on Tuesday nights, airlines release their lower fares and tickets! Book on Wednesday mornings!

I never really bought into it, partly because I just didn’t see how it was possible. But last night, we learned this theory was utterly not true. (I only use the word “utterly” when I need to emphasize just how not true something is).

How we learned this: because I decided not to harp on Jon (he calls it “nag”) about booking tickets to a wedding in January to Los Angeles, he didn’t book them, and now the fares jumped from $250 to $450. And since this was a Tuesday night when all this went down, he decided we should wait until Wednesday morning (now) to check if airlines would “release” some mystery tickets to the public to pounce upon this morning.

But being the skeptics that we were, we did a little research to find out if this theory held any water, and the long version made shorter – it doesn’t. Tickets are released every day, and they are not necessarily the lowest or the best. (and I just checked Kayak.com- and I am correct).

What does hold true, however, is that if you travel on a Tuesday, chances are your flight will cost less and the flight will be less full. In addition, many airlines send out their last-minute fares for weekend travel on Tuesday, so it only works if you’re planning to jet off that very weekend.

How else to find better airline deals? Keep watching. Booking too early can be expensive, but so is booking too late. You can also subscribe to Yapta.com, which will alert you when your fare drops. Note, however, that Yapta does not include every airline yet. Alternatively, you can book a ticket, and if the fare drops, you can request a refund for the difference. Yapta provides instructions on how to get a refund, or for $15, will do it for you.

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Now Boarding: Deals to Paradise

My California friends like to give me grief about moving back East, particularly now that it’s cold, gray and threatening to rain ice so much that Virginia schools closed today for… an otherwise sunny day. ? Nice excuse by the superintendent who probably got some super saver flight to the Caribbean departing today.

However, I think I could use a sunny vacation right about now. Between buying a house, painting, moving, and all the other adventures I’ve been unfortunate to experience, getting away with nothing but a swimsuit and a good book sounds just about right. To top it off, Jon is ditching me to go to some bachelor party in Tahoe this weekend, which just received several inches of fresh powder. If I act quickly, I could be on a beach by the weekend. Here are some deals I found.

TODAY ONLY: a “Fare Crusher” sale of $18 and up to the Caribbean on Spirit Airlines. Of course, the catch is that if you live in Ft. Lauderdale, you get a wealth of paradise options at hand. However, if you live elsewhere, you can fly to Ft. Lauderdale for $9 (yes, NINE dollars) and then catch another flight to somewhere like the Bahamas or Jamaica. It may take a little detective work and coordinating the scheduling, but who wouldn’t want a $36 vacation??

ENDS TOMORROW: Airtran has some lovely low flights going to the Caribbean from around the U.S. For example: Chicago Midway to Aruba for $169 one-way. New York to Montego Bay, Jamaica for $129 one-way. San Francisco to Cancun for $124 one-way (although I never liked Cancun – the key is to leave Cancun as soon as possible and get to one of its neighboring secluded islands, like Isla Mujeras, away from the obnoxious partying 50-year-old Americans with their footlong beers.)

Latin America: For $278 roundtrip from Washington, D.C., I can jet off to Punta Cana on Lan Airlines before December 30. Never heard of the airline, but it gets me to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and then somehow I make my way to the beachy shores.  

Need more ideas? Keep checking back! It’s a bad economy out there, which makes it great vacation time. Happy sunshine!

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My Travel Hats on brief hiatus!

Apologies Travel Hats fans! I have many valid excuses for my brief hiatus this week. Please stay tuned until next week to hear about some adventures in partial cross-country travel as Jon and I embark on a roadtrip to Chicago for Thanksgiving BY CAR! (This is a well-traveled route for me that I did several times during college and graduate school, so I can’t say there will be many exciting moments – but there will be some).

Remember: pack light, arrive early, and enjoy! See you next week!

 

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Cool Tools: Fly.com on Twitter

Okay, I’m not a Twitter fan. I don’t think that what I (or any other individual) does is so interesting that I need an updated broadcast throughout the day. Lots of CEOs try to ramp up interest in their companies by “Tweeting” about their going-ons. It’s only interesting if perhaps they tell you: “Just sold division of company to another company! Stocks are soaring! Buy now!” But they tell you things like: “Heading to meeting in Denver.” “Ate salmon for lunch.” “Excited for our new company rollout of something or another.” Blah. I don’t really care.

But now Fly.com (which is Travelzoo’s sister company) has released a Twittering of real-time fare alerts from your home city. It still seems to think I live in Los Angeles, so I can sign up for Twitter alerts to buzz into my phone about great deals that moment they are released – and then, if I was more technologically connected with a fancy IPhone, I could buy that fare on the spot from wherever I might be, without risking the chance of it being sold out.

How it works:

First, if you’re a subscriber to Travelzoo, you’ll already receive its weekly lists of fare deals. If not, go to www.travelzoo.com and sign up.

 Now, I’m not entirely sure which cities it is announcing on Twitter, but you can try it out yourself to see if it works. If you go to www.twitter.com/LAfares, you’ll get the list of fares from Los Angeles. I tested www.twitter.com/DCfares, and it popped up fares from DC. Chicago is apparently CHIfares, Boston is BOSfares, etc. So far it looks like LA and DC have “tweets” going out, but they’re still working on Chicago and other cities.

Then, you sign up for Twitter (if you don’t already have an account) and then start subscribing to the Fly.com announcements. If you did it all correctly, messages will pop up in your Twitter account and on your cell phone. Voila! You’re tuned in like a high-tech traveler.

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