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Get cheap flights with 'secret' airline codes

May 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Ready for a vacation, but money is tight? You might be surprised to learn the deals airlines are offering these days. Here's how to find today's really cheap seats. If you want to snag some money-saving airfares -- and who doesn't? -- then you need to know about some of the secret codes that airlines have.

Think you can't afford to get away? Here's how much George Hobica spent on his last trip, thanks to airline discount promo codes.

"It was about $140, roundtrip non-stop from New York to Los Angeles," said George Hobica, who runs Airfarewatchdog.com.

Hobica finds out about airline discount codes and posts them on Airfarewatchdog. Consumer Reports ShopSmart has more on how to find hidden airline deals.

"One of the best-kept secrets is discount codes, or promo codes, which you can use to book your tickets online. You simply enter a string of letters and/or numbers and you can save 10 to 50 percent on your seats," said Lisa Lee Freeman, Consumer Reports ShopSmart editor-in-chief.

Recent promo code offers include up to $175 off a Delta vacation package to Hawaii. For a U.S. to New Zealand and Australia flight, 20 percent off. And from United Airlines, a free flight if you bought a ticket on certain flights departing from Denver.

"Airlines come up with promo codes to drive people to their Web sites and bypass sites like Travelocity and Orbitz, where they have to pay a commission," said Freeman.

Along with Airfarewatchdog, FareCompare.com is another good source for codes. With both sites, you sign up to get alerts for deals.

"Another way to find promo codes is to do a Web search and put in the name of the airline and the words 'promo code,'" said Freeman.

While finding the codes isn't always easy, Hobica says it's worth it.

"It is a lot of work to find a low airfare, but it doesn't take that much time and it often pays big dividends," said Hobica.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says airline promotions come and go quickly, so you have to act fast.

Also, be aware when you sign up for airline promo-code fares, your inbox could get flooded with deals that don't interest you, so it's a good idea to have a separate e-mail account.


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