Flexible travelers can save big on air fare, hotels
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 5:31 AM
Travelers who are flexible and creative can save hundreds of dollars on airfares, lodgings and rental cars even during the holiday season, Clem Bason says.
Bason, president of the Hotwire Group and Hotwire.com, the discount travel site, said travelers should consider flying with a discount carrier to an alternate airport at mid-week on a variety of dates.
"You can't just change the outbound date and hope it will get cheaper," Bason said. "You have to change the outbound and the inbound dates. Play with the dates. Always check with the low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines. And you will do better if you go to smaller airports. If you are able to go on an off-peak day, see if the airline will let you use your (frequent flier) miles."
A native of Philadelphia who lives in California, Bason booked in September a $350 roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia at Thanksgiving.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, the roundtrip fare jumped to $740.
"But when I changed to off-peak days, the price went down to $620," Bason said.
Off-peak days - mid-week a week or two before Christmas, for instance - also is a good time to fly standby, he said. Even though 90 percent of airline seats are occupied this time of year, there is still a chance of finding an empty seat just before departure, Bason said.
"If you're going from Chicago to New York, those planes will be full," Bason said. "If you're flying Oakland to Portland, there will be seats available."
The holidays are a good time to find hotel bargains in major tourist destinations, the Hotwire executive said.
"Friends and family stay with friends or family, so hotels have vacancies," Bason said. "There are plenty of hotels in downtown San Diego in January with empty rooms. If you know it's not busy where you're going, you're not risking very much by booking your hotel room at the last minute. At the last minute, you can get up to 50 percent off."
Hotwire this week issued its November Travel Savings Indicator, which features the top five cities in North America where hotel, air and rental car rates have dropped the most compared with the same time a year ago.
Las Vegas tops Hotwire's list for the fourth month in a row with a 10 percent drop in hotel rates during the past year.
The top five bargain hotel markets, the percentage price declines from last year and average nightly rates are:
"If you're missing the summer sun, then you're in luck because we're seeing many warm weather destinations offering deep discounts this month," Bason said.
- Las Vegas: down 10 percent; $85.
- Knoxville, Tenn.: down 8 percent; $82.
- Milwaukee, Wis.: down 7 percent; $86.
- Palm Springs, Calif.: down 6 percent; $97.
- Charleston, S.C.: down 5 percent; $84.
"Folks can take advantage of deals all the way from the Hawaiian Islands to the tip of Florida, and maybe they'll also be sporting a great tan in all their holiday photos, as well."
Air fares have dropped significantly in the past year in Colorado and Hawaii, the Hotwire survey found.
The top five markets in which airfares have dropped the most and the average airfare to those destinations are:
For the second month in a row, Cincinnati tops Hotwire's rental car bargain list with a 33 percent decline in average daily rental rates compared with a year ago.
- Colorado Springs, Colo.: down 18 percent; $258.
- Honolulu, Hawaii: down 16 percent; $452.
- Lihue, Hawaii: down 12 percent; $448.
- Kahului, Hawaii: down 11 percent; $430.
- Toronto, Canada: down 9 percent; $358.
The top five cities for rental car bargains, the percentage price drop compared with a year ago and the average daily rental rates are:
Original Print Headline: Flexible travelers save on flight, hotel
- Cincinnati, Ohio: down 33 percent; $26.
- Jersey City, N.J.: down 21 percent; $38.
- Seattle, Wash.: down 21 percent; $20.
- Detroit, Mich.: down 21 percent; $24.
- Miami Beach, Fla.: down 18 percent; $32.
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451