Are you wondering how to save money on flights? This is an excellent question, and there are many different strategies you can utilize, to save yourself a bundle on your next personal getaway or business trip.
While these may take some time or involve a measure of inconvenience (like late night or early morning departure times or long layovers), the trade-off can be well-worth the effort.
If you love saving money and aren’t afraid to spend some time to do it, here are 7 tips that should help spare your wallet when booking your next flight.
Tip #1: Book In Advance.
This maxim probably doesn’t come as a surprise, as most people know that airline tickets cost more when purchased at the last minute. Yet, the best deals come when you buy well in advance, rather than just a week or two ahead of time.
The trick is figuring out the point at which you’ll save the most money, and even experts are divided on this complex issue. While the traditional wisdom is to buy as far in advance as possible, this may not be the most effective strategy.
Why? According to some authorities on the subject, airlines don’t offer any discounts on flights scheduled for more than about twelve weeks from the current date. They speculate that this is due to the airline booking system, which doesn’t include discounted inventory before this time frame.
While you can certainly find exceptions to this rule of thumb, perhaps the best tactic is to examine big data. CheapAir compiled the stats from a staggering five million ticket price searches, and concluded that 47 days prior to flying is the perfect time to buy.
Tip #2: Use Price Prediction.
With the question of when exactly to book being difficult to fully pin down, the best advice is to begin looking early and often. This should help you to score the best deal.
Yet, how will you know if it’s the right time to pull the trigger or if you should wait for a better deal to pop up? To help you decide, you can take advantage of price trend tools (like the one offered with the flight search on the Bing.com site).
This will give you more data, so you can make the most informed decision possible.
Tip #3: Use a Powerful Search Engine.
There are many search engines you can make use of today, such as Travelocity, Orbitz and Kayak. Kayak also allows you to compare its results to the other search engines automatically – saving you time and effort.
You can also configure it to look at flights three days before and after your planned travel dates. This is one of the best ways to save money on your flight, as prices can vary dramatically depending upon the day of the week.
Tip #4: Search For Flights From Nearby Airports.
Another trick that experienced shoppers often employ, is to search for flights from nearby airports as well. While it may be somewhat inconvenient to fly out of a nearby city rather than your preferred point of departure – you can save hundreds of dollars if you’re willing to be flexible.
Tip #5: Consider Flying at Off-Peak Times.
No one likes flying in the middle of the night or early in the morning, but you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Search for flights between 8pm and 7am, for the best chance of a steep discount.
In addition, the least popular days for flying are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If you’re willing to travel contrary to the crowd and fly on these days, you can shave a substantial amount off your ticket price.
Tip #6: Fly Two Different Airlines.
You can save a pretty penny if the stars align, and you’re able to find a cheaper rate coming and going on two different airlines.
This method involves purchasing a one-way ticket there and back, but it’s possible to get the lowest price for each stage of your trip using this creative technique.
Tip #7: Travel Light (or Fly Southwest).
Checked luggage fees can quickly add up, especially if you’re traveling as a family. Consider cultivating the habit of traveling light, by only taking a carry-on with you.
Or, if your family is flying somewhere for a much-needed vacation, you could check just a single bag for the whole family to share. Finally, you may consider the added price of checking a bag, versus the cost of just buying items you need when you arrive at your destination.
If you’re absolutely set on checking luggage, then consider flying Southwest or JetBlue. These airlines don’t charge you for the first checked bag (the second bag is also free on Southwest)
This excellent perk can end up saving you a considerable amount of money. This is especially true on a family trip, as baggage fees will only compound when taking more travelers along for the ride.