Cheap Airfare Step 7: Sign up for deals newsletters
The best airfares are touted in wonderful (and free) deals newsletters
E-mailed newsletters (or Twitter feeds) devoted to travel deals that arrive in your inbox automatically are the single best source for keeping on top of the vast variety of airfare bargains, vacation sales, trip promotions, special offers, package deals, and affordable travel tips.
Newsletters are wonderful, they're stupendous, they're unbeatable sources of bargains—and I'm not just saying that because, back in 2002/2003, my day job was writing ten stories a week for one of the biggest (the sadly now-defunct "Budget Travel Today" newsletter from MSNBC.com).
Best of all, they're free.
I find that just signing up for the following deals newsletters—plus the E-saver for my own local airline (the one that uses my local airport as a hub)—saves the clutter in my inbox while still getting me the skinny on great deals, both last-minute and coming-up-soon.
Here are the best of the deals newsletters and sales roundups:
- TravelZoo (TravelZoo.com) - Sign up for a weekly email summarizing their "Top 20 Deals." Very straightforward, and quite decent deals—even if they're all actually paid ads by the 180 or so top travel outfits who use this as an outlet for disseminating deals. Hey, the deals are no less genuine.
- BookingBuddy (www.bookingbuddy.com) - Weekly deals newsletter from a decent booking site.
- Budget Travel Magazine (www.budgettravel.com) - The sin qua non of travel deals newsletters, and the place where I once spent the bulk of my day working (disclosure: from 2002-2004 I was an Associate Editor for the magazine affiliated with this site). This twice-weekly newsletter links to travel articles (both general and from the pages of the magazine) and the daily "Real Deals" blog.
- Smarter Travel (www.smartertravel.com) - Summarizes lots of deals in many categories and sends out themed emails (seniors, students, deals from your home airport, etc.). It's loaded with bargains—though the others listed here often dig up much better ones overall—but cluttered by too many "Sponsored" deals and "member discount" links leading you to preferred vendors.
- Arthur Frommer's blog (www.frommers.com/blog) - This blog, maintained by none other than Arthur Frommer himself, lives at the website for the guidebook publisher he founded. Updated several times a day, it is full of deals and bargains—along with Arthur's observations, travel news, and pointed opinions after more than half a century in the business. Always a good read.
Fly.com has begun tweeting what is calls "Real-Time Flight Deals" via Twitter. These are not just any and every sale. It is a daily, interactive compendium of only the sales of use to you, since every sale fare is for flights that leave out of your nearest gateway (assuming, at least for now, you live in a major metropolitan area).
That's because, instead of some generalized Twitter feed—currently the case with most travel sites and airfare specialists—with Fly.com you sign up for the individual Twitter feed for your nearest gateway city (20 currently available, 20 more to come in the weeks ahead). That means all you will receive are deals leaving from the airports in and around that city. Brilliant.
To put that in perspective, the Twitter feeds from other search engines and aggregator sites merely tout the occasional sale at random, balanced with other travel news reporting and the typical RT "re-tweet" shout-outs. Fly.com's Twitter presence, however, is aggressively targeted to the deals and nothing but the deals—and, what's more, only those in which you might partake.
A quick look revels that the various Twitter feeds for each city tweet a new deal nearly every day, sometimes two or three in a day. Each provides the bare-bones basics of the bargain, along with a link for more information.
Here are a few, just from one week, from the New York City feed (as the actual deals won't be available by the time you read this, I've removed the bit.ly links to declutter):
- Atlanta from NYC is only $138 roundtrip, incl. tax! Jan.-March.
- Wild!! Miami from NYC only $138 roundtrip, incl. tax. Jan.-March.
- NOLA!! New Orleans from NYC $189 roundtrip, incl. tax. Jan.-March.
- ALOHA!! Honolulu from NYC only $554 roundtrip, incl. tax! Feb.
- TWEETFLASH! L.A. from NYC for $179 roundtrip, incl. tax. Valid nearly every day.
Why should I bother with an airfare deals Twitter feed?
As savvy travelers well know, often the best airfare deals are what are know as "loss-leaders," meaning that only a few seats or dates are available at the low, sale price to spur interest. After those slots sell out, the price goes up.
This makes it vital to know about any sale the instant it becomes available—and a Tweet chirping up onto your screen is the best way to do that.
The site is not yet touting this service on its homepage; the links to the individual city Twitter feeds are instead buried in a press release about the new service. The direct link to this release is long and unwieldy, so just go to www.fly.com, click on "Press Room," and you can find it—as well further announcements as Fly.com expands this program.
As a shortcut, here are the Twitter feeds for the current crop of cities:
- Los Angeles (twitter.com/LAfares)
- San Francisco (twitter.com/SFfares)
- Washington D.C. (twitter.com/DCfares)
- New York City (twitter.com/NYCfares)
- Minneapolis (twitter.com/MSPfares)
- Denver (twitter.com/DENfares)
- Boston (twitter.com/BOSfares)
- Miami (twitter.com/MIAfares)
- Atlanta (twitter.com/ATLfares)
- Chicago (twitter.com/CHIfares)
- Phoenix (twitter.com/PHXfares)
- Houston (twitter.com/HOUfares)
- Seattle (twitter.com/SEAfares)
- Portland (twitter.com/PDXfares)