services 06.6.05

New York Airfares

MUG asked for some advice from travel expert George Hobica — the man behind New York Airfares (which will help you save plenty of time and money), the national version called Travel Guy Airfares, and the weekly syndicated travel Q & A column Ask George. We wanted to know what strategies he uses to find the lowest airfare on the net. This is what he told us:
After years of researching fares for AOL's Digital City "Travel Guy" site, and now at my new fares blog at The Airfare Blog, where I provide a list of the day's lowest airfares nationwide, I have some firm opinions about this. Here is how I go about it:

Stop number one is Travelocity. Click on the flexible date option and then enter the cities and hit "select," which produces a calendar of supposedly available dates for the fare. As much as I love Travelocity, you can't take every fare that pops up at face value. Sometimes fares, or even routes, don't exist. That being said, Travelocity has the most versatile flexible date search mechanism in the industry, and it will give you a good place to start (and, often, to end) your search. Sometimes adjusting your dates even by one day can save you hundreds of dollars on a fare.

True, Orbitz also has a flexible fare search, and you can depend on the availability of the fares they produce in searches, but their flexible search isn't as robust as Travelocity's, which shows fares, if available, 330 days in advance (Orbitz's flexible date search only covers 30-day periods).

If your travel dates have no flexibility at all, then I recommend Sidestep. Sidestep includes JetBlue Airways fares, which Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia do not (not that JetBlue always has availability at the lowest fares, but it's good to have them included anyway). Sidestep is usually accurate, although recently I was looking for a fare to Orlando for a friend (his dates and travel times were set in stone) and Sidestep gave a $167 round-trip quote on Delta, which turned out to be unobtainable. JetBlue was asking $240 round-trip; but I found a fare on Delta eventually, using Travelocity, for $190.

Then there's Southwest. If you live near an airport served by Southwest, (it flies from Islip) then you need to perform a separate search at, and you need to sign up for their "Ding" fare service at These fares are sent out once or twice a day and pop up on your computer (it doesn't work on Macs; just PCs, and only with certain operating systems). They expire the same day and are generally 10-25% lower than normal Southwest sale fares.

But it doesn't end there. Other airlines also reserve their best fares only for their own Web sites and they will not show up in any other search. Aer Lingus often has fares to Ireland that are lower than fares listed on other sites, and Alaska Airlines had a splendid sale recently, appropriately called the "Only Here" sale since the fares, in some cases half of what others were charging, were only available on their Web site. So, if you're a real fare hound you'll check on individual airline sites as well.

Is it all worth it? That's for you to say. Sometimes you'll save $50, as our friend going to Orlando did. Other times, the savings can be much greater and can add up if there is more than one of you traveling.

Needless to say, you can also just let us do some of the searching for you. When we look at a particular route, we search all of these options to see who has the lowest fare.

If you've got wanderlust in your heart, make sure you have New York Airfares bookmarked in your browser.
5 List: Brunch
Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton [Houston/Stanton] 646.602.6263
Five Points, 31 Great Jones [Bowery/Lafayette] 212.253.5700
The Stanton Social, 99 Stanton [Orchard/Ludlow] 212.995.0099
Tartine, 253 W. 11th [W. 4th] 212.229.2611
Zoë, 90 Prince [Bway/Mercer] 212.966.6722

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