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>> Traveling during the holidays is stressful enough. You don't need the process of buying your airfare to add an extra layer of things. If you're planning on buying your tickets online this season, like I know the majority of you watching will, then there are definitely some tips and tricks to finding a good seat, finding a good price, and there's also some new companies out there who are offering new features to hopefully ease the pain.
>> Take Hotwire for example. When you click Find a Flight, it now provides search results for all nearby airports and alternate dates in order to help you to find the cheapest fairs.
>> You want to go home to Washington, D.C. And you're coming from San Francisco. Well on Hotwire we'll actually look at Oakland for you and we'll look at San Jose, just to make sure there's not a better fair. We'll also look at even the surrounding D.C. airports.
>> By being flexible, Messing says you can save as much as 25% per ticket. And if you want cheap seats for the holidays, that flexibility counts more than ever. Especially since Christmas is on a Tuesday this year.
>> Friday, Saturday, Sunday are going to be peak, peak, peak. But if you can fly on the Monday, Christmas Eve, or actually the morning of Christmas, you'll find significant savings.
>> She also suggests returning home after January 3rd to save even more cash. The online airfare market is divided into two basic categories. Travel agent sites, like Hotwire, Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline, just to name a few, and supplier sites, or the airlines themselves.
>> Well, typically I like to go to Travelocity and see what the best flights are then I go to the airline site and usually get it cheaper because they charge you some kind of fee, like $10 or $15 extra to book the tickets through them.
>> Why do you always buy from the airline?
>> Mostly because my loyalty is, I fly British Airways, so I fly American Airlines. So I use those, that's why I get most points, and then I use American Express, because I get the most points there too.
>> Vajed Jaffrey says his company SeaFares can offer another option. Buying airfare wholesale directly from the consolidator.
>> They don't deal directly with a consumer. So you would have never heard of these people. But if you have a good travel agent, they can get you to these fares. This market has been there for 20 years, but it has never been brought online. It's a very big market offline.
>> To get the best deals on Seafares, you have to purchase a $50 per year platinum membership. Jaffrey a 25 year veteran at the travel industry, likens it to a Cosco membership, and argues you'll make that money back in your first flight alone.
So where're we going Jaffrey?
>> Where would you like to go? Should we go to Munich? London? What's your preference?
>> I'd like to go to Oslo.
>> Oslo. Lets try San Francisco to Oslo.
>> San Francisco to Oslo, okay.
>> And we'll do it...
>> For Valentine's day?
>> For Valentine's day. Now its going out and searching all their, you know, major online travel sites. Its searching all the airline sites that fly to Oslo, and its also going to the wholesale market and finding the best fare for you. So here's a fare for $636.
>> I can spend all the money I save on a down jacket now.
>> Yes, absolutely.
>> Its going to be cold.
>> Jaffrey offers up one more bit of valuable search advice.
>> And around midnight, they use today's information to update fares for tomorrow. So if you're looking for a good fare, the best time would be to do it at around 1 O'clock in the morning.
>> There is nothing more annoying than sitting on a plane and realizing you paid a thousand bucks for your seat, the guy next to you five hundred, and the guy next to him two fifty. Well perhaps some smart online shopping will make you the smartest passenger on the plane this holiday season. Reporting from the San Francisco International airports, I am Kara Seaboy for CNETNews.com
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