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Playing the anticipation game with airfare - Curt Yeomans

First off, I want to say I'm disappointed in you readers out there.

Last week, I asked for feedback from you guys. I asked: In what warm place you would, ideally, spend a winter getaway?

I got not one response. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The previous time I tried to ask for reader feedback on a column, I only got one response.

Seeing how this is a written column, I can't turn away from you and cover my eyes in a show of disappointment. Therefore, the words you are reading will do it for me. They are turning away and shaking their heads now.

And, now they are over it, and so am I.

So, I'm facing a dilemma this week. I am planning two, week-long trips now, and I have to figure out when is the best time to pull the trigger and purchase airline tickets for each trip.

The first trip is to San Francisco, during the first week in April. That is a personal getaway, all by my lonesome. The second trip will be to Connecticut, for a rare family reunion, during the last week in June. This is actually the first family reunion for my mom's side of the family, that I am aware of, in eight years.

It will be the first time in 10 years that I have been able to attend a reunion for that side of the family.

Last weekend, I found airfare for only $319.40 round trip to go to San Francisco, on Delta. The thing is, I am unsure how good the seats will be, since I do not completely understand the economy class lettering system. If I go for the cheapest airfare, I will be in "Economy (T)," but for an additional $20, I can be in "Economy (U)."

As far as I know, both are what would be called "discounted economy" class seats, but it's a headache trying to figure out with which do I get more flexibility.

The benefit of flying in "Economy (U)" is that I get a much better flight time.

We won't even go into all the headaches I'm going through to find a ticket for a flight to Hartford, Conn., that leaves Atlanta after work on the evening of June 24 (which is when I need to leave here).

I have to say that travel is not easy. In every case where I have flown somewhere, getting a good price on the airfare has proven to be the most difficult part of pre-trip planning.

Between you and me, I'm ready to put my foot through a computer screen over all of this.

The problem, especially with the trip to San Francisco, is trying to gauge whether the airfare has gone as low as it will go. If I buy the tickets now, and airfare then drops again in price, I'm going to feel like a tool. If I wait, and the price goes up, then I will still feel like a tool.

That is the dilemma we all face when it comes to buying airplane tickets. The trick to beating the problem is to try and figure out what would be the lowest the airline in question would go in price, and try and wait for it to hit that low.

If you wait, and see the price start to creep back up, buy your tickets immediately. You may have already missed your chance for the lowest possible airfare.

Then, you can at least salvage your image, so you appear to be only a slight tool.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.