Airfare is typically the most expensive item in anyone’s travel budget. Here are 13 tips for finding the cheapest flights, no matter where you’re going.
Book Sooner Rather than Later.
Airline tickets rarely get cheaper as the date of departure gets closer. If you know when and where you’re going, book sooner rather than later. However, you shouldn’t simply book the first reasonably priced flight you find.
Do Your Research
Check the airfare for a given destination through multiple travel sites. You might find lower fares for a given flight through the airline’s home page or a different travel portal.
Use Incognito Mode in Your Browser
You may get different pricing information once they don’t have the search history that shows you’ve been researching Aruba vacations. Search via Incognito mode in your browser. If you don’t have that, delete your cookies and search again in the same browser.
Consider Alternate Airlines
Many of us tend to research fares for the major airlines. Consider checking the prices with budget airlines and regional carriers, especially if you wouldn’t have to change flights to get to your destination.
Set Up Alerts
If you have enough time, you can search for deals on airfare. However, that can be time-consuming. The solution is to set up alerts on websites to let you know when cheaper flights become available. Book once they become available, after you’ve verified the details.
Don’t Travel on the Busiest Days
Airlines charge more when demand is highest. That’s why you’ll pay a fortune to arrive at the airport on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving but somewhat less if arriving the Monday before. Don’t pay a premium to leave a vacation destination on Sunday afternoon with all the other tourists. Wait until Monday or Tuesday to fly home. In most cases, you’ll save more by flying in and out in the middle of the week.
Be Flexible with Your Destination
If you want to fly to New York City, you could land at LaGuardia or JFK Airport. Research nearby airports, because you might save money if you land in one of the smaller ones. Just learn a little geography before you save money landing 60 miles from the destination and pay as much as you saved on airfare to drive to your hotel.
Sign Up for a Frequent Flier Program
It might let you save money on your first flight, and it typically allows you to save money on later flights. If you have a frequent flier program, find out if they let you transfer miles to other airlines like the one you’re considering using.
Find Out What Your Travel Points Program Can Do For You
Do you have a credit card that pays in points or miles? Ask them what kind of discount they can get you on your next flight. While you probably won’t get a free trip to Hawaii, they might be able to upgrade you to business class from coach.
Book Connecting Flights on Your Own
If you need to take two legs to complete your journey, you choose the stopover. Check the prices for flights in and out of various airports. You might save money switching flights in Omaha instead of Dallas or Chicago.
Mix and Match Airlines
You don’t have to buy airline tickets from the same airlines, whether you’re taking 2 legs to get to the destination or booking a round trip. This could save you quite a bit of money. Just don’t check luggage while you do it, unless you’re willing to wait to make sure it gets off the plane in time to board the next one.
If There Are Potential Discounts, Make Them Aware of It
There are many situations that can warrant a discount on airfare. Are you attending a funeral? Let them know. Do you have an AARP discount or gold star membership in the airline’s travel program? Bring it up with a booking agent if there isn’t a way to take advantage of that discount when you try to book the flight online. Note that you may be able to get these discounts applied if you start an online chat with customer service, but you might have to make a phone call, too.
See If You Can Pay in Other Currencies
Are you traveling from the United States to Qatar? You might save money on the Qatar Airways booking if you pay in Qatari Riyals rather than dollars. Are you traveling to the United States from abroad? Airlines may give you a discount if you pay in dollars. At a minimum, it may eliminate the conversion fee that adds several percent to your bill.