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Video: 5 tips to avoid sky-high airfare

  1. Transcript of: 5 tips to avoid sky-high airfare

    AL ROKER reporting: This morning on TODAY'S TRAVEL , avoiding sky-high airfares. According to the Department of Transportation , domestic airfares jumped nearly 5 percent in the first part of this year. So how can we find the best deals? Well, Nilou Motamed is the features editor for Travel Leisure magazine. Nilou , good to see you.

    Ms. NILOU MOTAMED (Features Editor, Travel Leisure Magazine): Good morning, Al .

    ROKER: So what is -- what's the deal? Why are we seeing these increases, given the fuel prices are down and all this. What's going on?

    Ms. MOTAMED: You know, after a year of dropping prices we are seeing an increase in airfares. I think the airlines see a demand, which is great, we see people out there traveling, so for our November issue of Travel Leisure , we did a very thorough air report for all the -- all the travelers out there.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: And that's actually going to be out in our new iPad app that is going to be...

    ROKER: You have a new iPad app?

    Ms. MOTAMED: We do, and it's interactive...

    ROKER: No!

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...and it's free.

    ROKER: Get out of here !

    Ms. MOTAMED: And it's going to be out tomorrow.

    ROKER: Where -- are people champing at the bit for this?

    Ms. MOTAMED: I think they are.

    ROKER: I think they are. Not chomping, but champing.

    Ms. MOTAMED: I'm certainly -- I'm certainly champing. It's going to be an exciting one.

    ROKER: I'm looking forward to that with that iPad .

    Ms. MOTAMED: Well, thank you.

    ROKER: OK, so you say the tip for getting a cheaper ticket, you say it's all -- like comedy, it's all about timing.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Well, it is, and you know something about that, for sure.

    ROKER: Not really.

    Ms. MOTAMED: It is all about timing when you're trying to get a good deal. First of all, if you can book 21 days in advance...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...you should try to do that. But that's not always realistic. The other option is to go to bing.com, which is one of those Web sites that I love. And they have an airfare predictor. Now, if you go on there, it'll tell you, it has a little graph that it -- and it tells you when the best times to book are. So, for example, I'm lucky, my family's all in New York , but if I had to go to San Francisco for Thanksgiving ...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...it told me that I was out of my mind . It says, " out of your mind " to try to book the day before Thanksgiving . That's the highest. And then coming back on Sunday.

    ROKER: Sure.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Those are the two days to avoid. The day before that on Tuesday, or on Monday...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...you're going to get better deals.

    ROKER: You say there are Web sites that can help you hunt for deals.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah, there are. I mean, honestly, none of want to spend all of our time sitting in front of the computer looking for deals.

    ROKER: No.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Now, if you sign up for farecompare.com...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...it sends you real-time e-mail alerts when the fare that you're looking at goes down -- drops down in price. There's also airfarewatchdog.com. They have actually a team of experts. You put in your home city, and they send you one of their great deals in areas that you might want to go to.

    ROKER: We love -- George Hobica 's a friend of ours.

    Ms. MOTAMED: He's a good guy. He's a good guy.

    ROKER: OK, now, you also say you got to -- and you kind of touched on this earlier -- select your travel days carefully.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Very wisely. Now, I said that about the holidays, but now in general flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are where you're going to get a best deal. So my husband, who loves to fly on Saturday and come back on Sunday -- honey, stop doing that.

    ROKER: Don't do that.

    Ms. MOTAMED: It's really -- its costing us money. Yeah, it's no good.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Also, make sure...

    ROKER: Do you guys have some issues you need to work out?

    Ms. MOTAMED: No, no. I just thought I might just say, you know, just saw it on TV , therefore, it's true, you know.

    ROKER: OK. OK.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Saturdays also are kind of central element if you're trying to get a good deal. So try to book a Saturday overnight stay. That'll lower the price.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm. OK, so now are there -- when you're going -- if you're booking online, are there better days than others? You're just grinning right now. Are there better days than others to book?

    Ms. MOTAMED: Oh, if you're actually booking?

    ROKER: Right.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yeah, well after midnight is a great time to book if you're -- if you're booking online...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. MOTAMED: ...because you're going to get all that inventory that's been held all day long. And also, yes, so like I was saying, I think the Wednesdays and the Thursdays are also good times to...

    ROKER: So midnight after Wednesday and Thursday is a good time to do this.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Yes, indeed.

    ROKER: OK. You also said -- this is interesting -- consider buying one-way tickets.

    Ms. MOTAMED: I know, that's a little bit of an unusual tip, but I think it's a good one. Sometimes round trips are expensive. If you go on with an airline like JetBlue or Southwest , they don't have any prohibitive costs for buying one-ways, and you can get a better deal. So that's something to check out.

    ROKER: And here's another thing. You say watch for price drops. So once you've bought the ticket, you purchased the ticket, keep checking back because airlines will -- if it drops, they'll give you the difference.

    Ms. MOTAMED: It's not over until the...

    ROKER: Fat person sings.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Until the Travel Leisure lady talks.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm. Ah.

    Ms. MOTAMED: So there we go. So the key is there a few -- airlines all have different policies, but it's important to check out a Web site called yapta.com which will tell you when -- what different airline policies are and when you're going to get -- be able to get some money back. For example, something people don't know, Continental actually has a 24-hour grace period during which time you can actually cancel your flight and rebook.

    ROKER: Oh.

    Ms. MOTAMED: Which means -- at no penalty. You don't have to use a change fee. If you see the price dropped, you can just rebook.

    ROKER: That's fantastic. And when is that iPad app coming out for...


Explainer: About the Secure Flight program

  • Image: plane landing

    Secure Flight is a program developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a key 9/11 Commission recommendation: uniform watch list matching by TSA. The mission of the Secure Flight program is to enhance the security of domestic and international commercial air travel through the use of improved watch list matching.

    Secure Flight conducts uniform prescreening of passenger information against federal government watch lists for domestic and international flights. TSA is fully taking over this responsibility from airlines beginning Nov. 1. Secure Flight will conduct passenger watch list matching for all domestic and international passengers traveling on covered flights into, out of, within, or over the United States. Secure Flight will also apply to point-to-point international flights operated by U.S.- based airlines.

    By assuming watch list matching responsibilities from the airlines, TSA:

    1. decreases the chance for compromised watch list data by limiting its distribution.

    2. provides earlier identification of potential matches, allowing for expedited notification of law enforcement and threat management.

    3. provides a fair, equitable, and consistent matching process across all airlines.

    4. reduces instances of misidentified individuals.

    5. offers consistent application of an integrated redress process for misidentified individuals through the Department of Homeland Security's Travel Redress Inquiry Program ( DHS TRIP).

  • How does Secure Flight work?

    When passengers travel, they will be required to provide the following Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) to their airline when making a reservation:

    • Name as it appears on government-issued I.D. when traveling
    • Date of birth
    • Gender
    • Redress number (if available)

    TSA matches this information against government watch lists to:

    • identify known and suspected terrorists.
    • prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft.
    • identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening.
    • facilitate passenger air travel.
    • protect individuals' privacy.
  • What if the name on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my I.D.?

    Due to differences in boarding pass systems, boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide when booking your travel is used to perform the watch list matching before a boarding pass is ever issued, so small differences should not impact your travel. You should ensure that the name provided when booking your travel matches the government ID that you will use when traveling. Small differences between the passenger's ID the passenger's reservation information, and the boarding pass (such as the use of a middle initial instead of a full middle name or no middle name/initial at all, hyphens or apostrophes) should not cause a problem for the passenger.

  • Why is Secure Flight collecting this information?

    TSA determined that mandating the provision of the additional data elements of date of birth and gender would greatly reduce the number of passengers misidentified as a match to the watch list. It is to the passenger's advantage to provide the required data elements as doing so may prevent delays or inconveniences at the airport, particularly for those individuals who have been misidentified in the past.

  • What happens if my airline didn't ask for any of that information?

    Secure Flight will be phased-in and each airline will be incorporating the necessary changes into their systems over the coming months. Passengers shouldn't be concerned if particular airlines don't ask them to provide the additional information right away; it should not impact their travel. Each airline will request this information as their capability to capture it is integrated into their individual systems.

  • How do I know if I am on the No-Fly list?

    If a passenger successfully obtains a boarding pass, his/her name is not on the No-Fly list. If a passenger feels they have been misidentified, redress is an opportunity to seek resolution and avoid future delays. The affected passengers often have the same or a similar name to someone on the watch list. Any passenger who believes he/she has been delayed or denied boarding; delayed or denied entry into the U.S. at a port of entry; or been subject to enhanced screening or inspection may seek redress through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) at www.dhs.gov/trip. DHS TRIP provides a single portal for travelers to seek redress for adverse screening experiences and to resolve possible watch list misidentification issues.


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