Travel: 5 Tips to Booking a Cheap Flight

Myth Buster!

There aren't any rules as to when airlines will discount their flights. This online world has made that market fluid, so price change randomly. In fact, it's more like supply and demand, the rules to economics; and the bottom line is that airlines want to fill up the seats in all of their flights. So if you've traveled lately you've noticed that all of your flights are full.

There are fewer planes en route and that also makes upgrades a little more scarce, as well. But that is a different topic. (*let us know if you'd like to learn more about how to upgrade your travel)

But this post is about how to book a cheap flight...




1. Check Fares Early & Often
Did you know that, on average, the fare difference between the best day to buy your airline ticket and the worst is $236! And that doesn’t even include people who purchase within 7 days (who pay even more!). Airlines change fares constantly, often multiple times a week. So when it comes to buying an airline ticket, timing is everything. I recommend that you start checking fares as soon as you know you’ll be flying. Then, check continuously, at least once a week to get a sense of what’s a good deal. I use a airfare tracker like on Kayak.com. Then when you find a fare you like, be ready to pull the trigger since the same fare may not be around for very long. We know it sounds crazy (and exasperating) but the airlines use very sophisticated computer systems to adjust fares literally in real-time. Buying an airline ticket really can be like playing the stock market! 
2. Buy at the Right Time
Knowing when to buy your flights can be the best tip for saving some serious cash on your next trip. CheapAir.com did a study last year and found that for domestic flights 49 days (about 7 weeks in advance) was, on average, the optimal time to buy plane tickets. But that number can vary quite a bit depending on where and when you’re going. The most important takeaway from our study: you’ll likely pay a big premium for booking too late (within 14 days), or for booking too early (more than 5 months in advance). Somewhere between 3 weeks and 4 months in advance is usually the sweet spot for flights within the U.S., although all bets are off if you’re traveling for a holiday or other peak time.
3. Some Travel Days are Cheaper than Others
The day of the week you fly on can make a big difference in your air fare. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the least expensive days for domestic flights and Friday and Sunday are the most expensive. (Monday, Thursday, and Saturday are in the middle). The difference between a Tuesday flight and a Sunday flight is $29 each way on average, or $58 round trip. If you’re traveling for the weekend, consider Saturday to Monday or Tuesday instead of a Thursday or Friday to Sunday trip. And if you’re traveling for a full week, Tuesday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Wednesday is often your best bet. More generally, if you’re willing to be flexible, check a bunch of alternate dates around the same time period because you never know when there might be one combination of dates that has a fare a lot lower than the dates around it.
4. Mix and Match Airlines to get the Cheapest Flights
CheapAir.com features a “Mix & Match” category that essentially lets you combine two one way fares that may or may not be on the same airline, to form a round trip. “Mix & Match” options come in handy when either (1) the best possible fare for an itinerary requires travel on one airline going out and another airline coming back; or (2) the airline with the most convenient outbound flight doesn’t have a convenient return flight or vice versa.
5. Check Alternate Airports
If there is more than one airport near your origin or destination city, check them both. The more options you have in terms of airports and travel dates, the more likely you will find what may be one of the last discount seats to where you are going. CheapAir automatically checks some nearby airports for you (San Francisco and Oakland; Miami and Ft. Lauderdale; New York and Newark; Washington, DC and Baltimore), but if you are willing to use other alternates, you should check those, too, by doing separate searches.
*these travel tips were borrowed from CheapAir.com

What’s your favorite tip? Let us know and we'll post it here!

2 comments :

  1. these are great tips. thanks. i'm going to try it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. my secret travel tip is to check multiple travel scanner sites: Kayak, google flights and skyscanner.com

    ReplyDelete

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