What's the best way to waste hundreds of dollars on a ticket to Asia?
Easy, call your travel agent a few months in advance and tell them your departure date. They'll typically quote you well over $1,000. Or waste a few hours on the Internet airline booking sites. A better strategy is to look for "consolidator" fares and last minute discount fares. Either way, you'll save hundreds of dollars versus purchasing a published fare months in advance!
We recommend waiting to purchase your ticket until about 30 days before your trip. If you're traveling during the high season from June through August, buy your ticket 60 days in advance. Tickets during this time typically cost about $200-300 more and seats can be difficult to find. Occasionally, airlines offer great deals on last minute travel. These rock-bottom fares are often available for only a few days and are usually heavily restricted. Recent deals included $400 from LA to Hong Kong, with a 5-day maximum stay, and $649 LA to Bangkok. (A good place to look for these discount fares is our Travel Deals page!)
Can't find a last minute discount ticket for your itinerary? Call an agent or "consolidator" specializing in Asia. These agents have negotiated contracts with the major carriers and can offer tickets for substantially less than the published fares. Tickets are typically less restricted and do not have advance purchase requirements. You can save hundreds of dollars! Look for consolidators in the Sunday travel section of any major newspaper.
Beware consolidators that only accept cash or check. Even if they are legitimate, should the airline go belly-up before you fly, you're out of luck! Paying by credit card provides some recourse for getting your money back.
Finally, the cheapest fare isn't always the best. That $600 fare may not seem like such a great deal as you whittle away 6 hours in a foreign airport, after flying 5 segments on 2 airlines for 30 hours, finally arriving in Saigon at 1:00am. (That's a real itinerary that we ALMOST took!) Only a handful of Asian and American carriers have well-coordinated schedules that will get you to Vietnam without playing hop-scotch around the Pacific. One carrier goes a step further by offering a unique class of service between Coach and Business Class and excellent connections to boot - guess who we fly! (see "Getting There Doesn't Have To Be An Adventure")
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