23 Ways To Score A Deal Booking Airfare
Road trips are fun, and train trips are becoming more popular and adding more stops, but both of those methods of travel take a long time. Flying is still the best way to get from place to far-away-place the quickest. Unfortunately, airlines know this, so flying is not only the easiest way to travel, it’s also the most expensive. However, if you know how to work for a deal, they can be found. Here are some little cheats that can help you find a good deal booking airfare.
1. Book online.
This sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, there used to be a time when the best deal could often be found by calling the airlines directly and booking your flight over the phone. Now it’s best to book online, where you can do more research by checking multiple airlines, and checking them more often.
2. Use comparison sites.
Use travel sites to show you airfares for the same trip across multiple airlines to make your time online more productive. Sites like Kayak, CheapOair, CheapTickets, Skyscanner, Hipmunk, and more will search a variety of airports, days, and layovers to find you the best deal to get you to your destination.
3. Clear browser cookies.
Since you’re booking online, checking a lot of sites at different times, you need to clear your browser cookies. If you don’t, airlines and travel sites can see that you’ve visited their site before, which to them means you really want to go on this trip, regardless of what deal you can find. When you clear your cookies, the site doesn’t know you’ve been there before, so they’ll show you the same deals they show other new customers. Clearing your browser’s cookies is quick and easy, and ensures you’ll get a fair deal every time.
4. Book early.
If you know about your travel plans in advance, try to book airfare as soon as possible. The best deals are usually found about six weeks before you intend to fly.
5. Buy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Airlines often release new flights and seats on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so it’s a great time to look and see what kind of deal you can score early.
6. Be flexible.
If you’re traveling for vacation, try to be flexible about what days you travel. Have your vacation dates in mind, but search for a few days before and after both your departure and arrival dates. This will give you more flight options, and you might find a better deal on a different day.
7. Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
These days are the “off” days for the airlines. Most business people will fly from Monday to Friday, and people will leave for weekend trips on Thursdays and Fridays. If you can plan your travel either midweek or on the weekends, you’re going to get a great deal because airlines are trying to fill up these flights.
8. Fly off-peak hours.
While you’re searching for tickets on those off-days, also consider what time you’re flying. No one wants to get up and go through airport security before the sun is up, and most people want to get to their destination before it’s late. If you’re able, find an early morning flight (between five and seven) or leave after eight at night. Airfare on these flights will be cheaper, again to ensure that the flight is full.
9. Buy one-way tickets.
Sometimes one-way tickets are cheaper than round-trip tickets. Consider buying a one-way flight to your destination, and another to get back home. This way you can buy the cheapest ticket from different airlines. If you’re flexible, you could even buy a one-way ticket there, then wait and purchase another one-way ticket while you’re still on vacation to get back home. You might find a great last-minute deal if the airline is trying to fill a flight.
10. Buy round-trip, even if you’re just going one-way.
Yes, this is the total opposite of the last tip, but it can work! If you’re going to a place and then driving back, or moving, or staying for a long while, then buying a round-trip ticket could be to your advantage. Sometimes airlines will gouge people flying one-way because the airline is not going to get the return flight money. It might be cheaper to buy round-trip even if you just don’t use the ticket back. Basically, don’t think you have to buy a one-way ticket if you’re going one way, or a round-trip to come and go. Keep an open mind, check all of your options, and see what you can find.
11. Sign up for email newsletters.
Many airlines and comparison sites want you to sign up for their newsletters, and you should! If you’re worried about spam, create a special email address for travel deals, or flag all of the travel sites so they automatically go to a certain folder in your email that you can check when you’re ready to travel. These newsletters have great deals for flights, and might offer a special vacation package that you can book if you don’t have a destination in mind. The emails might also qualify you as a “member” with certain sites, so you get a discount when you book travel through that particular site.
12. Use the cancellation policy.
You’ll have to read the fine print to get this deal, but some airlines offer a 24-hour cancellation policy. Book the best deal you can find, but then check the airline’s site for the next 24 hours. If the ticket price falls, cancel what you bought and buy the cheaper fare. Some airlines also refund the price difference if the tickets get cheaper after you book yours. It’s worth reading the user agreement to take advantage of this option.
13. Fly anywhere.
If you’re traveling just to use your vacation time and get away from it all, search random destinations. See what tickets are cheapest, and go there! Of course you’ll need to do a little research to make sure you aren’t stuck in a boring place for a while, but it’ll be an adventure to go someplace new, and it’ll save you a lot of money if you just pick the cheapest tickets.
14. Travel off-season.
Don’t go to any of the Disney parks in summer, and don’t go to Australia for Christmas. Every place has an off-season when tourists aren’t packed in, so do a little research on your chosen destination and find out when this is. Traveling in the off-season doesn’t only mean your airfare will be cheaper so the airlines can fill the flights, it also means your destination will be less crowded and more relaxing once you get there.
15. Check nearby airports.
It’s so easy to leave from your local airport, but it might be worth a two- or three-hour drive to fly out of a neighboring city. Different airports offer different destinations, and a more popular airport might have cheaper flights than the one in your city. A lot of comparison sites will search surrounding airports within a certain radius for you, so be thinking about how far you’re willing to drive to get the best deal.
16. Buy last-minute.
Yes, this is contrary to the earlier tip about buying six weeks in advance, but both options can be true. If your trip isn’t set in stone and you can fly by the seat of your pants a little bit, try to book a flight the Tuesday or Wednesday before you leave. As previously mentioned, those days usually offer the cheapest airfare. But if you book on one of those days, wanting to leave that Saturday, you might find an incredibly cheap seat on a flight desperate to fill up. Of course, you could find that everything is booked, so you only want to try this one if you’re able to push your vacation back if it falls through.
17. Check budget airlines directly.
Some comparison sites might only check the big airlines. If you’re traveling to another country, do a bit of Googling and find out what their home airline is, and check that site directly. They might have a better deal than a major airline, because they’re smaller and only serve certain areas.
18. Try bundling.
This option requires a bit of time and trial and error, but if you’re going to need a hotel or rental car, try bundling your travel for a better deal. Some airlines and comparison sites give discounts of hundreds of dollars if you book a car or hotel at the same time as your flight.
19. Stay longer.
That’s the dream, right? A permanent vacation… Well, it doesn’t have to be forever, but if you have enough vacation time saved up, stay away longer. Staying away at least one Saturday makes your airfare cheaper. A lot of flights are booked during the week by business people traveling for work, so if you fly out midweek and stay through the weekend, your return trip will be cheaper the next week when you return on another off day.
20. Check layover time.
Layovers can be a hassle if you’re worried you won’t have enough time to get from gate to gate, but long layovers make you feel like you’re wasting time. If you’re traveling to another country, however, you might have a layover in a third country. There are international airlines that will allow you to extend your layover up to seven days before you catch your connecting flight. That way, if you’re flying from New York to Germany with a layover in Iceland, you can postpone your connecting flight for a few days while you explore Iceland, and then get back on the plane to go to your final destination. It’s like two trips in one!
21. Don’t check luggage.
Carry-ons can be fairly large these days, so get a nice bag that fits the requirements and pack only what you need. Fees for checked baggage can be expensive, and while it doesn’t necessarily directly raise the price of your airfare, it makes your trip more expensive. You can have a piece of carry-on luggage and a personal item like a purse, laptop bag, or camera bag on the plane, so pack smart to avoid luggage fees.
22. Print your boarding pass at home.
It depends on the airline, but sometimes you’re charged a fee to print your boarding pass at the airport. Save money by printing it at home, and you’ll also streamline your time at the airport by being able to go right to security, as opposed to waiting in line at the desk or a kiosk to get your ticket.
23. Snag the deal.
These tips can really help you save money on airfare, but if you need to travel during peak times, don’t wait around for things to get cheaper. Compare airlines and flights as much as you can and pick the best deal, even if it’s not as cheap as you might like. Some flights might never dip below a certain price, and it’s better to snag the best deal you can than to never take that vacation.