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How to buy cheap airline tickets

Nanditta Chibber in New Delhi | July 02, 2005

An airline ticket for Re 1 can make anyone's head go into a tizzy. Forget the ear-to-ear grin and excitement when Air Deccan announced that tickets could be bought for Rs 500, and then SpiceJet offered 30,000 tickets for Rs 99 as a promotional offer.

That time, flying for such rates was unheard of and flying for Re 1 unthinkable!

It's almost as if one is flying for free. Who had thought that the majority of us Indians, long used to our trains and buses to travel from one tip to the other corner of the country, would even start considering flying as a option.

That was reserved for flying on company work, or when one could afford their exorbitant fares, or in a dire state of emergency. But the sudden flurry of new, private low-cost airlines offering abnormally cheap tickets made us sit-up and literally rub our eyes to check that we aren't imagining the ticket prices.

"Hey! I can buy that ticket," is what most of us said, while searching for ways and means to get hold of them. The thumb rule to get hold of the cheapest tickets is to be the early bird.

All such tickets are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Air Deccan has approximately four-five seats available on all its flights for Rs 500.

To get hold of them, fill up the flight details by either logging on to their website at www.airdeccan.com, dial their call centres, contact their authorised travel agents, or visit their airport counters.

Once your details are entered, wait for their systems to check if a seat or seats for the lowest price is available. If your stars are on your side, then you'll be the lucky one to fly for Rs 500.

If planning to fly on their Bangalore-Mumbai or Bangalore- Delhi route, just pray that you enter your flight details at an auspicious moment as Air Deccan has allotted 1,000 seats every month for flights on these two routes for Re 1.

The anticipation while the computer system checks for the cheapest tickets available can make one break out in sweat.

But trying your luck in advance does help, as in the case of Air Deccan for which bookings for the Rs 500 tickets open three months in advance, while the Rs 1 tickets go a month in advance.

Sometimes, though, you could just get lucky in case there's a cancellation of bookings (even at the last minute). So, another piece of advice -- keep trying.

SpiceJet, the other low-cost, no-frills airline, has its promotional Rs 99 tickets fully booked till such booking re-open. Bit, it has a few tickets priced as low as Rs 149, Rs 549, Rs 699, Rs 899 and Rs 999 for all its flights.

Here, again, the sooner you call and give your details, the more likely you are to fly high on low fares. Log on to www.spicejet.com, or try the sales and reservation call centres, authorised travel agents or SpiceJet counters at the airport. Here you can select your seat at the time of booking and avail a Rs 50 discount per ticket if the booking is made through the Web site.

Want luxury as well as low cost? Then Kingfisher Airlines (it calls itself a value carrier) is a good bet.

With its Kingfisher class offering inflight entertainment with a personal television screen at the back of each seat and all the works, a ticket for Rs 2,999 for the Bangalore-Mumbai leg is being pampered at a good discount. Log on to www.flykingfisher.com, or dial their toll-free number 1600-1800-101.

If you've managed a low fare ticket, then add Rs 221 as mandatory airport tax. Payment procedures are all similar. Once the ticket is confirmed, you will be given a passenger name record (PNR) number.

Credit card payments are required if booking is through the website or call centre, else cash payments can be made to the authorised travel agent or at the airline specific counters at the airports. An e-ticket will be sent to your mail id, or you can pick it up later while boarding at the airport counter.

So, be the early bird and remember to be consistent in your attempts. Also, keep your eyes and ears open to airline websites and the media to get hold of the low fares that existing and new airlines like Go Air, Interglobe, Indus Airways, AirOne and EastWest Airlines will offer when they hit the runway some time soon.

Good luck!



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