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March 5, 2013

Spring vacation travel tips

(Continued)

Book early and online. Airlines are reserving more seats for frequent flyers and those willing to pay seating fees; by booking in advance you’re more likely to get a good seat that doesn’t require a fee. Some airlines now charge anywhere from $15 to $45 for booking a ticket over the phone.

When you book your flight, do it through the airline's website. Some airlines charge an extra fee for tickets purchased through a third party, such as travel sites or travel agents. And keep in mind that many third party sites are very inflexible if you have to cancel your plans.

Travel scams

While it is great to save money on travel, by all means make sure you don't lose money on travel. That can happen if you fall for a travel scam or do business with a travel operator who, while well-intentioned, does not have the resources to actually provide what you've paid for.

Before doing business with any travel company, check their reputation online. Be especially skeptical of postcards, phone calls and e-mails that promise a free vacation.

Businesses may use giveaways to persuade consumers to call and then pressure them into buying an over-priced package or travel club membership. You may be able to find better deals with a local, reputable travel agent. Other times, you will be able to save money by booking your own travel.

While using a third party site often looks cheaper, it's easier to run into problems, as Maya, of Brooklyn, N.Y., discovered.

Cheaptickets.com March 1, 2013, 7:58 p.m.
Consumers rate Cheaptickets.com

“Booked a vacation package via Cheaptickets.com to months before traveling,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “The hotel overbooked my Villa and told me that there were no rooms available in the hotel to try back the following day. All hotels were overpriced and booked due to the long holiday weekend.”

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