One of the most frustrating things about buying airline tickets is that the prices are so erratic. I’m going to Chicago in late September and the price today is $200 less than two months ago. Whatever happened to the early bird gets the worm?
As a frequent flier I’ve found five ways to help find the best prices.
Buy Only on Certain Days
In general the weekend is the worst time to buy airline tickets, yet that’s when most people are off and able to take care of tasks like this. The best day to buy tickets is Tuesday…or Wednesday according to the Wall Street Journal.
However, if you find a smoking sale don’t wait until Tuesday to buy. Those seats will probably go fast.
The same flights may cost hundreds more on a particular date than it would be the day before or after. Many times I’ve moved my travel date either up or back in order to save money.
If it really doesn’t matter if you start your trip on Saturday instead of Friday, then look at this option when booking your travel.
What looks to be the cheapest fare may not be when you add in extra fees for luggage, headsets, blankets and more. If you’re going to check your bags this is a serious consideration.
The fee for checking two bags ranges from $0 (Southwest) to $85 (Spirit). Don’t forget change fees if there’s any chance you might have to modify your plans. Again there is a huge range from nothing (Southwest) to $150.
Look at Alternate Airports
Airports in the same geographic area, or even the same city, can often have wildly different fares. One factor will be the airlines flying from the airport. Fares will generally be lower at airports with a discount carrier.
Another variable is whether the airlines are receiving incentives to serve a city. The waiver of landing fees, terminal rent and other charges motivates the airline to fly from the city and saves travelers money.
Use Mileage Rewards
Instead of buying that expensive ticket to Chicago previously, I redeemed miles earned from previous travel and only paid the security fees. If you don’t fly enough to use miles consider a travel rewards credit card. Most frequent flyer programs have ways to earn miles by purchasing from partners ranging from florists to mortgage loans.
These tips should help you find a better deal the next time you shop for airfare. How do you save on air travel?