The Barksdale AFB Leisure Travel (ITT), located on Barksdale Air Force Base, has staff experienced in booking airline travel and providing the best service and pricing available. There was a time when it was beneficial for individuals to book their own travel using the internet. In a few cases that still holds true but some things have changed. There has been an exponential growth in the number of suppliers and wholesalers selling travel via the internet, but with that influx, it has become more difficult to sift through the sites to find not only the lowest price, but a fair fare (pun intended) with a company that will not only provide a low price, but responsive, professional and quick service in the case of travel changes, emergencies and loyalty rewards.
The ITT office staff is trained and experienced in finding low fares from reputable companies. Sometimes when booking with ITT or another travel agent, one might not get the lowest internet fare, but they will get the service of a professional staff backed by the knowledge that they have not been swindled by a company who fails to reveal important details and hidden fees. When booking air travel, whether on your own or with the services of an agent, there are several things to keep in mind.
- How flexible is your schedule? If you don’t have to leave on a specific day, check a variety of dates. There can be large swings in fares from one day to the next, especially near the end of a travel season.
- Air Courier flights are not good for people who want to travel together. If you have a companion and a flexible schedule, consult consolidator offerings. Warning: some people have bad experiences with consolidators. If neither of the options above appeals to you, begin fare searches using sites like Expedia or Travelocity. Punch in a variety of dates, and record the lowest fares. If you don’t know what air courier flights or consolidators are, you should definitely take advantage of the services at ITT or other travel agent.
- You can save 20-30 percent from the lowest fare published when using travel auction sites like Priceline. Consider making that amount your bid for tickets. Build in a cushion of time if you must be in a certain location by a certain date: remember that your bid will cover the entire 24 hours of a given day. Understand the rules before you bid. In most cases you will not know the time your flight until you’ve already paid for the ticket.
- Look at fares to nearby cities, especially if flying to the United States or Europe. Sometimes the savings will more than cover ground transportation to your desired city. Be certain to book the best fares as soon as possible as they can change or fluctuate often. Flying out of Shreveport can be very expensive, and most locals will consider Dallas as an alternative. But, other options are Longview, TX, Monroe, LA, and Jackson, MS. Be sure to consider the cost of fuel to an alternate airport, possible overnight lodging, and long term parking fees.
- Some sites like Expedia or Travelocity offer email and text alerts when prices are lowered. This can save a lot of time when price is your main consideration. Online services such as Yapta.com allow you to watch certain routes. Some travelers track fares after they’ve made a purchase. There are cases in which you can ask the airline to refund the difference between a recent purchase and a new sale fare.
- If a one-way ticket is desired, check the round-trip fares. Sometimes, but not always, they are actually cheaper.
- Avoid flying during high-volume holidays, if you can. Check to be sure your destination country is not celebrating a holiday upon your arrival or departure. Ask for discounts before booking. Seniors, military and students can occasionally get reduced rates on some routes, but the discounts are not always mentioned to customers.
- Call the airline directly for emergency flights, but remember their grievance and emergency medical flight discounts will be given off the rack rate (a higher priced ticket), and a ticket from a consolidator may be cheaper.
Finally, if you want to avoid the hassles, let an agent do the work for you. Most charge fees ranging from $10 to $25 per ticket, but it may be worth the time you will save, and the result of getting the best price for your itinerary.