Where the airfare deals are

The best newsletters, esavers, and fare alerts to help you find the airfare sales, travel deals, e-savers, and prices on plane tickets to Italy

The best way to get a great price on airfare is to know where the deals are. The good news is that you can get the latest air sales, travel deals, trip promotions, and vacation bargains delivered right to your inbox on a daily or weekly basis. Best of all, they're free.

There are four main flavors: E-savers (last-minute bargains direct from the airlines), newsletters (roundups of deals and sales from many sources), and fare alerts (be notified when the price of a plane ticket to Rome drops), and now Twitter feeds.


Nothing scares an airline more than a half-empty plane, and they'll fill those remaining seats at the last minute no matter how slim the profit. This is the only place in the travel industry where you can still reliably find those mythical "last-minute bargains"—which far too many people assume still exist in abundance, when in fact the airlines have gotten a lot better about matching their supply of seats to the demand there will be for them. When, however, there still is an imbalance—too many seats, too few takers—the airlines send out last-minute "e-saver" emails.

Just about every airline, plus the major search engines (OrbitzPartner, Expedia.comPartner, Travelocity Partner, Hotwire.comPartner, etc.), will let you sign up for its own e-saver. These are weekly emails that offer you great deals for getaways, usually for the coming weekend (domestic) or week (international). They're also frequently used to announce longer-range or system-wide sales of the "Spring sale on now!" variety, with a wider window of flying opportunity.

Deals newsletters

I find that just signing up for the following deals newsletters—plus the E-saver for my own local airline (the one that uses my local airport as a hub)—saves the clutter in my inbox while still getting me the skinny on great deals, both last-minute and coming-up-soon. Here are the best of the deals newsletters and sales roundups:

  • TravelZoo (TravelZoo.com) - Sign up for a weekly email summarizing their "Top 20 Deals." Very straightforward, and quite decent deals—even if they're all actually paid ads by the 180 or so top travel outfits who use this as an outlet for disseminating deals. Hey, the deals are no less genuine.
  • BookingBuddy (www.bookingbuddy.comPartner) - Weekly deals newsletter from a decent booking site.
  • Budget Travel Magazine (www.budgettravel.com) - The sin qua non of travel deals newsletters, and the place where I once spent the bulk of my day working (disclosure: I am a Contributing Editor to the magazine affiliated with this site). This twice-weekly newsletter links to travel articles (both general and from the pages of the magazine) and the daily "Real Deals" blog.
  • Smarter Travel (www.smartertravel.com) - Summarizes lots of deals in many categories and sends out themed emails (seniors, students, deals from your home airport, etc.). It's loaded with bargains—though the others listed here often dig up much better ones overall—but cluttered by too many "Sponsored" deals and "member discount" links leading you to preferred vendors.
  • Arthur Frommer's blog (www.frommers.com/blog) - This blog, maintained by none other than Arthur Frommer himself, lives at the website for the guidebook publisher he founded. Updated several times a day, it is full of deals and bargains—along with Arthur's observations, travel news, and pointed opinions after half a century in the business. Always a good read.

Fare alerts

All the deals fit to Tweet
Both the fare alert service Farecompare.com and the aggregator Fly.com are offering Twitter feeds of airfare deals leaving from your local airport(s)—great for pouncing on those ephemeral sales and act-now bargain flights.
Sign up for a fare alert and you'll get an automated heads-up email whenever the prices to your favorite destinations drop. It's really that simple (and, in the age of the Internet, really that easy to sign up for and implement).

So, if you're planning a trip to Italy, research all the going airfares and package prices long before it's time to actually book them, then sign up for these alerts and sit back and wait to see if something better comes along while you bide your time.

A few of the more popular fare alert services include: Airfarewatchdog.com, Farecompare.com, Bing.com/travel (incorporates the old FareCast.com), and Yapta.com.

Twitter feeds of travel deals

Airfare aggregator Fly.com (owned by Travelzoo.com) has become the first to leverage the power of Twitter to alert travelers to the best deals they can use.

Fly.com has begun tweeting what is calls "Real-Time Flight Deals" via Twitter. These are not just any and every sale. It is a daily, interactive compendium of only the sales of use to you, since every sale fare is for flights that leave out of your nearest gateway (assuming, at least for now, you live in a major metropolitan area).

That's because, instead of some generalized Twitter feed—currently the case with most travel sites and airfare specialists—with Fly.com you sign up for the individual Twitter feed for your nearest gateway city (20 currently available, 20 more to come in the weeks ahead). That means all you will receive are deals leaving from the airports in and around that city. Brilliant.

To put that in perspective, the Twitter feeds from other search engines and aggregator sites merely tout the occasional sale at random, balanced with other travel news reporting and the typical RT "re-tweet" shout-outs. Fly.com's Twitter presence, however, is aggressively targeted to the deals and nothing but the deals—and, what's more, only those in which you might partake.

A quick look revels that the various Twitter feeds for each city tweet a new deal nearly every day, sometimes two or three in a day. Each provides the bare-bones basics of the bargain, along with a link for more information.

Here are a few, just from one week, from the New York City feed (as the actual deals won't be available by the time you read this, I've removed the bit.ly links to de-clutter):

  • Atlanta from NYC is only $138 roundtrip, incl. tax! Jan.-March.
  • Wild!! Miami from NYC only $138 roundtrip, incl. tax. Jan.-March.
  • NOLA!! New Orleans from NYC $189 roundtrip, incl. tax. Jan.-March.
  • ALOHA!! Honolulu from NYC only $554 roundtrip, incl. tax! Feb.
  • TWEETFLASH! L.A. from NYC for $179 roundtrip, incl. tax. Valid nearly every day.

Why should I bother with an airfare deals Twitter feed?

As savvy travelers well know, often the best airfare deals are what are know as "loss-leaders," meaning that only a few seats or dates are available at the low, sale price to spur interest. After those slots sell out, the price goes up.

This makes it vital to know about any sale the instant it becomes available—and a Tweet chirping up onto your screen is the best way to do that.

The site is not yet touting this service on its homepage; the links to the individual city Twitter feeds are instead buried in a press release about the new service. The direct link to this release is long and unwieldy, so just go to www.fly.com, click on "Press Room," and you can find it—as well further announcements as Fly.com expands this program.

As a shortcut, here are the Twitter feeds for the current crop of cities:

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