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Pricing a trip to Japan

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Pricing a trip to Japan

Postby Matazi » Tue 01.27.2009 9:53 pm

Hello,

I'm interested in taking a vacation to Japan sometime this summer. I tried searching the forums for information to find the best/most affordable flights and accommodations to no avail. I'm sure I could search Orbitz or Hotwire for a flight, but what is suggested to get the best deal? Furthermore, where do you suggest searching for a room?
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Re: Pricing a trip to Japan

Postby Sairana » Wed 01.28.2009 2:44 am

Background: I used to work in the airline reservation industry.

You plan to take your trip this summer, you should be past the research on pricing phase and have the cash/credit available to be making the purchase within the next month. There are golden windows of opportunity when it comes to airfare prices, though Travel Agents and websites like Orbitz can make that window a little wider than through the airline directly.

You start watching fares early (IE, 6-months to a year before intended travel date), track them, and establish a threshold. When your airfare drops below your threshold (read: What you are willing to pay), buy it. Waiting for the fare to get "even lower" usually results in not getting anywhere near what you want. About between 3-5 months before travel, you need to be ready to hit your threshold and purchase.

There's no way to gauge how much it might cost you, since market fares change dramatically between rather extreme numbers. Again, travel agents and such normalize this to an extent (through bulk purchases and *cough* Illegal ticketing techniques).

Tips to keep your fare low:

Be flexible on dates, for both departure and return. If you can travel in the middle of the week, all the better. When I was working for American Airlines, the "cheap days" were Tuesday/Wednesday. I would bet that hasn't changed. If you can be flexible -enough-, you can intentionally schedule around blackout dates for certain fares (some fares are simply not available on certain dates). Sometimes, this means a leeway of a week or more (Instead of the first 3 weeks of July, you would go for the last 3 weeks, for example).

Use a travel agent. Alternatively, websites that do airfare work just as well, but aren't as personalized. With an agent, you have someone to call if things go wrong. Just make sure they schedule you enough time for customs at the appropriate airport (Probably LAX). They can usually get you cheaper fares than directly through the airline, and can even watch fares FOR you if you give them a threshold, or perhaps they have their own internal minimum and can quote you a price up front.
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