Posted by: Sara S. | March 26, 2009

The friendly skies just got a bit friendlier

Travelers who prefer planning vacations rather than banking on last-minute deals sometimes get the short end of the stick. Airlines such as Southwest and Airtran offer deals on tickets purchased a certain number of days in advance, but what about bigger airlines whose prices fluctuate dramatically–and even decrease–closer to the travel date? It’s a terrible thing to plan ahead, only to see the tickets you paid $389 for now costing $212.

Fear not! says travel expert Michelle Higgins. According to Higgins’ recent New York Times article, there are a lot of ways to beat the system nowadays. Take Travelocity.com, for example, which has begun offering automatic reimbursements for individuals who booked a vacation package  by May 31 if another customer books the same trip for less. Priceline.com has also joined the race, offering a similar deal for airline tickets and vacation packages booked by June 1.

If you didn’t buy tickets through an aggregator service, you might still be in luck. Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and United issue vouchers if their ticket prices drop, and they do not charge you for the pleasure. But other carriers, including American, Delta and Continental, add a fee — $150 to $250 — to reissue a ticket at a lower fare.

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