With its location on the other side of the massive Pacific Ocean from the United States and clear across Eurasia from the UK and Western Europe, it’s not inaccurate to say that Thailand is a long flight away or more than one, if you have to make connections. This being said, you don’t have to blow your vacation budget all on airfare if you can plan in advance and be flexible, both about when and from where you travel.
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Begin looking well in advance of when you plan to travel. Although airlines generally require advance booking of only 21 days to qualify for special fares, such deals might sell out long before that point. By shopping for flights to Thailand at least a few months before you plan to travel and browsing airline and travel agent websites regularly you increase the likelihood of finding a fare you can’t pass up.
Be as flexible as possible. Only being able to travel over a narrow range of dates will decrease the probability of finding a sale airfare within that time. With a tropical climate and high temperatures hovering around 85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, Thailand is not a place that’s season-specific in the sense that many others are although afternoons in July and August can be wet thanks to the regional monsoon. Avoid peak travel times such as the Chinese New Year in January and February and the time between Thanksgiving and the Western New Year to avoid paying peak fares.
Look for flights from many airports. Among U.S. airlines, only Delta and United flight to Bangkok as of January 2011 and both of them via Tokyo-Narita so your chances of obtaining any sort of sale direct from most cities in the United States is slim to none. If you fly directly from Los Angeles on Thai Airways and fly to and from Los Angeles using a low-cost carrier that serves your city you will increase your chances of enjoying a sale fare.
Capitalize on your status as a student or youth if you’re currently enrolled in full-time studies or are under the age of 26. Travel agencies like StudentUniverse and STATravel have access to special student fares, which are often reduced even from airlines’ lowest-published fares. For StudentUniverse, you’ll need to provide proof of enrollment to purchase certain fares, which you can obtain at your school’s office of the registrar.
Visit a local travel agent. Although travel agencies have lost market share in years past with the advent of the Internet and self-booking sites like Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity, agents may still be able to provide you with competitive fares, especially to far-away destinations like Thailand. They may additionally be able to assemble package deals, including hotels, transfers and tours, which would be difficult or impossible to assemble on your own.