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Last minute flights may be cheaper than the bus
Searching for travel deals feels like playing a game show where how to get a winning number is unclear. It's like hunting in a jungle where the frequent hunter has the edge. Timing remains the wild card.
Being flexible and not assuming the outcomes makes the difference between snagging a deal or paying more than you feel happy paying. The one that makes you whine.
Case in point: A friend of mine bought a round-trip ticket to New York City from Columbus for $240 two weeks ago for a trip next week. He smacked his forehead when I told him I bought a ticket last Saturday for $138 total. My trip is tomorrow.
The price surprised me as well. Before buying a bus ticket, expecting Greyhound would be much cheaper since it usually is, I searched plane fares last Friday "just in case." Surprise, surprise.
But, I also learned--again-- the importance of not hesitating. I waited until Saturday to buy the ticket while ironing out life's logistics, thus missed out on the flight I wanted. Delta's prices had almost doubled.
Another search found the $138 price on American. The hesitation, though, means flying out at 5:40 in the morning. Blech! Still, the less than two hour plane ride is $30 cheaper than the 14 hour bus ride. Factor in the cost of the bus from LaGuardia into Grand Central Station and I'm still $8 ahead.
While hunting for your own deal, keep the following points in mind.
- Don't assume you know prices before you check. You may be surprised.
- The more often you check prices, the more you'll know what is a price you're willing to pay. (This is my 6th trip to NYC since June. This is the 2nd time I've flown. The bus has been the best option three times and two weeks ago we drove.)
- When you see a price you want, don't waffle. Your life can adjust to the decision you've made. (The beauty of bus travel is that it's more flexible than flying.)
- Don't pay too much attention to headlines that talk about the price of travel. In the travel business, so much depends upon timing. What's true in the morning could have shifted by the afternoon. Keep looking. Hunt out every corner of options and stay flexible.
- If you're flying to New York City, the airport you fly into can make a difference into the cost of a flight. Pick the option that checks the price of all NYC airports. Once you know which airline has the cheapest price, book your ticket through that airline.
Good luck hunting out the best travel deal for you. It could be the bus.