We all know scoring the best price on a flight is never just as simple as looking on an airline’s website. When on the hunt for the lowest fare, wading through the endless maze of search engines, price fluctuations, and airline myths can be extremely tedious.
However, if you know a few insider tips and tricks to get you started in the right direction, your cheap flights may not be so hard to find!
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Unfortunately, there is no magic time or day to book your flight for the cheapest fare, but knowing a rough guideline based on pricing trends can help. For domestic flights, around 50 days out is said to produce the lowest fares. But, don’t leave it too late! After this point, prices are seen to gradually rise until 2 weeks prior, when fares will skyrocket. Waiting for a ‘last minute deal’ may not be such a smart move. International flights, on the other hand, are best booked well in advance. Fares for international flights open about a year prior, and it’s rare to see prices drop lower than their initial cost. About 3 months out from departure date is when prices start to rise pretty quickly, so get a move on!
Flexibility is key in finding the best possible airfare. By shifting your dates and airport preferences, you may find the difference of one day or destination could mean hundreds of dollars in savings. Also, try to avoid flying when everyone else is flying. Typically, it’s cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than the weekend, and on early morning or late night flights.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding the best deal. Similar to looking at different dates and destinations, it’s also important to shop around across a number of flight search engines, and avoid any sites that have an affiliation with certain airlines. Momondo and Skyscanner are both great as they will include smaller budget airlines, as well as the majors, giving you a much broader range of results. Airfare Watchdog is also good for tracking and comparing the cheapest times to fly.
GO BUDGET – BUT BEWARE OF HIDDEN FEES!
Most budget airlines now offer international flight routes, and while you may not receive any of the perks or complimentary services that you would on a major airline, you can certainly save a pretty penny. However, flying with budget airlines means you have to be super vigilant when it comes to their extra fees and restrictions. If you don’t follow their strict guidelines for baggage, credit card usage, boarding pass printing, seat allocations, etc. you could find yourself being stung with a bunch of extra charges.
While you may have scored an incredibly low fare on a budget airline, baggage fees are often where they’ll make some of that money back from you. Check, double-check, and triple-check the allowance your airline permits you to take on board at no extra charge. Most airlines will allow one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal item, so try to use your carry-on allowance to the max to avoid having any checked baggage, which you’ll need to pay extra for.
GET ON BOARD WITH TRAVEL MILES
A lot of airline travel hacks revolve around finding the best frequent flyer cards, so you can rack up the most points possible to be used on flights, hotels, tours, car rentals, and more. Much like searching for the cheapest airfare, finding the right frequent flyer card takes a lot of research. Fortunately, there are a number of helpful sites out there that compare a number of cards on the market so you can see exactly what you’ll pay and what you’ll receive.