Everybody likes cheap air fare. Let’s face it – we’d all rather spend our money on the actual vacation, right? But how do you get cheap tickets without spending hour after hour, day after day, searching airline websites?
Well, there are tips and tricks. And even better, we’re going to share those tips and tricks!
Tip # 1: The Best Day to Fly Cheap is Wednesday
And, Tuesday and Saturday. At least it is for domestic travel. If you want to pay whopping fares, choose to fly on Friday or Sunday. When it comes to the best times to fly – choose flights that leave during or after lunch hour or during dinner hours. If you can stand it, red eyes are the cheapest of all.
Tip # 2: The Best Day to Buy Cheap is Tuesday.
Buy your tickets at 3pm (Eastern) on Tuesdays. No kidding. Those cheap flights disappear on Thursdays so and don’t wait until the weekend!
Tip # 3: Buy for one Passenger First and Save
If you buy for more than one person at a time, airline reservation systems are set to sell tickets at the same price, which will be a higher price, than the occasional cheap ticket they may have on the same flight. If the cheapest price has even one seat less than the next fare price up, everyone in your party will be bumped to the next price up. So even though one or more of your group could get the cheaper seat, you won’t be offered the cheaper seat.
To beat the system, first shop for one seat and then check out the quoted price for one seat against the quoted price for two or more seats. If the quote for one seat is less expensive, split your ticket purchase up.
To do this you can use two different browsers and get both deals to the place where you pay and then immediately click one sale right after the other. If, for some reason, you should get one seat and not the other, most airlines have a 24 hour cancellation policy. Hint: Check out this policy BEFORE you click.
Also, remember to choose your seat selections, if it’s important to you to sit next to someone in your group. It may be worth it to you to pay more to get adjoining seats – but maybe not.
And, of course, always check out a few websites to see which ones have the cheapest tickets at the time you’re prepared to buy.
Tip # 4: Learn How Airlines Price Their Tickets
How can you have paid so much more for your ticket than the guy sitting next to you on the same flight? After all, you’re both going to Chicago and eating the same teeny tiny bag of pretzels, right?
Airlines are looking to make big bucks on every seat they sell. That makes good sense – for the airlines. Prices are going to be higher when the most people want tickets.
The prices of the cheapest tickets depend on how much competition there is on that route, what the demand for seats is, the length of the route, how many available seats there are, and the price of fuel. Then the airline divides the tickets between business tickets and leisure tickets, using the idea that business travelers are willing to pay more for tickets than those traveling for vacations and such.
To get the cheapest tickets:
- Buy your tickets at least two weeks prior to the date of your trip.
- Plan to stay at least two nights (sometimes one of those nights is a Saturday night.)
- Plan to leave or return (Tip # 1) on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday during or right after lunch hour or during dinner hour.
- Beware of surcharges – for fuel, or because you plan to travel during peak travel time.
- Check baggage fees. These can significantly increase ticket prices
Tip # 5: Look into Low Cost Airlines
Some of them don’t allow their ticket prices to be quoted on comparison ticket websites. Make sure to make the effort to go to the airlines site and check prices there. They don’t always have the cheapest prices so be sure to compare.
Tip # 6: Would You Like to Fly First Class?
One of any airlines biggest secrets is the “Y-UP” (say it “Why Up.”) Sometimes airlines can’t sell all of their first class seats. After all, they’re expensive. If you get a Y-Up, it will probably cost more than a really great coach sale, but it might be worth it. Speak to a travel agent about finding a Y-Up or find a website that will find one for you. Looking for one on the average travel website can be very frustrating.
Keep in mind that Y-Ups are usually one-way tickets, can often be refunded and always be exchanged, are available at peak times and days (even if there’s nothing in Coach), accumulate bonus Frequent Flier Miles, and usually don’t require advance purchase.
If you miss your flight, always ask about a Y-Up when attempting to book a flight at the ticket agent, ask about a Y-up if you’re traveling last minute or for an emergency, and ask for one for special occasion trips like honeymoons. And make sure that the airplane on the flight actually has a first class cabin before you pay for a Y-Up. The airline can sell you a Y-Up, even if there’s no first class!
Tip # 7: Be Flexible
Try to be flexible as to what day and time you can fly and even where you’re willing to go. If one destination is too expensive, try another!
Tip # 8: Avoid Peak Travel Surcharges
If you’re flying when there aren’t many seats available, make sure that you’re not paying “Peak Travel Surcharges.”
Tip # 9: Don’t Look for Tickets too Late – or Too Early
Most airlines don’t release cheaper seats until three to four months before the flight departs for domestic travel and four to five months for international travel. So booking six months ahead may cost you!
Tip # 10: Sign up for Price Drop Alerts
Many airfare comparison websites offer Price Drop Alerts. Take advantage of this tool!
Tip # 11: Fly from Hubs
Flying from smaller, commuter airports usually costs more than flying directly from a hub. If you can, drive to the hub and save the extra fare. Be sure to factor in fuel costs and the cost of parking and make sure that you’re saving.
Tip # 12: In Case of Emergency….
If you must travel at a certain time due to an emergency, ask about bereavement rates, try to use miles or points, look for last minute deals, and check out air plus hotel packages.
Good luck finding that cheap ticket! Use the tips above and we bet you’ll find a great deal!