Learn tricks to save big on air fares

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

He said, "It was $140, roundtrip non-stop from New York to Los Angeles."

Hobica finds out about airline discount codes and posts them on his website -- 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," explained Lisa Lee Freeman with Consumer Reports. "You simply enter a string of letters and/or numbers, and you can save 10 to 50 percent on your seats."

Recent promo code offers include up to $175 off a Delta vacation package to Hawaii. For a US 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.

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

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,'" Freeman said.

While finding the codes isn't always easy, George says it's worth it. He said, "It is a lot of work to find a low fare, but it doesn't take that much time, and it often pays big dividends."

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 email account.

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