Need to book flights for that next family vacation? An out of town wedding or family reunion in your future? The recent surge in airfare prices keeping you grounded?
Don’t be discouraged. If there’s anything I’ve learned about booking bargain airfare, it’s that there’s always a deal somewhere, even when it appears that there isn’t. For example, I just recently scored airfare for less than half the price it had been in the prior months. How’d I do that? With a bit of flight booking knowledge and due diligence, and by setting up alerts and checking airfares on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.
The bottom line is: To have the best chance at finding better airfare prices, you’ll need to keep on top of airfare ups and downs. Or you could rely on luck. But I don’t really recommend that.
Helpful Tips To Score An Airfare Deal
Not sure where to start that airfare search? How to find airfare sales and deals? What tips and tools might give you a leg up in your airfare quest? To help get you started, here’s recommendations, tips and tricks that I use when on the airfare hunt. Hope they help!
Be Destination Flexible
Have two to five different destinations in mind. By considering an alternate vacation destination, you can potentially save lots on airfare. If a Caribbean vacation is a must, consider two or three different islands. Skiing the plan? Don’t limit yourself to just one ski area. If San Diego is your destination, consider flying into Los Angeles. Including several different locations might just unlock a potential destination airfare sale.
Be Willing to Fly Alternate Airports
Check airports other than your primary airport, including smaller, more “local” airports. It might just save you hundreds. Instead of flying out of our primary airport, Philadelphia, enroute to Minneapolis, we flew out of Harrisburg PA. The Philadelphia-based tickets were over $500. The Harrisburg, tickets? $225. Yes, we had to drive an extra 45 minutes. The trade-off? We saved $275 per ticket, not to mention an easier airport to navigate and less expensive long term car parking. One downside? Not as many flight options in case of flight cancellation.
Be Destination AirFare Price Aware
Know your destination’s average range for airfare prices. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to spot a deal when it happens. And when you do see that deal, jump on it. If it’s that good, it won’t last long. Kayak and Skyscanner are good sites for tracking airfare rates. Bing Travel has a handy Price Predictor tool that’s also very useful in tracking where prices might be headed. So if your preferred flight has been averaging between $450 and $525, you know if you see an airfare of $300, you might just want to book it.
Be Airfare Search Diligent
Set price alerts at websites like AirFare WatchDog or Hipmunk. Check airfare prices frequently as they can fluctuate throughout the week. Some will say Tuesdays are the best days for flight sales. Others will dispute this claim. My experience? I have found most of my best deals mid-week. But not always. You just need to keep on top of flight prices and possible sales to score a good deal.
Be an Airline Follower
It’s a great way to learn about flight sales. Sign up for airfare sales and deal notifications from your preferred airlines. Follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and you’ll be the first to know when there’s an airfare sale. Airlines often sell a limited number of seats at that sale price and you want to be first in line to grab those seats.
Be Willing to Travel Off-Weekend
Most vacationers are more likely to begin their trip on a weekend. Instead, consider booking a Tuesday or Wednesday departure. That shift in days can save you hundreds of dollars. It has us!
Be Aware of Add-On Flight Fees
Sometimes that great airfare deal isn’t such a great deal when you factor in checked baggage fees. Want to have pre-assigned seats or early boarding options? You might have to pay for that. Know before you book what add-on travel fees your airline might hit you with for those little “extra” amenities. This will help you determine the true value of that airfare sale.
Be Aware of How Full a Flight Is
Check how full a flight is before you book. If it’s looking pretty full, chances are those ticket prices aren’t going to come down. If the price is higher than you want to pay and the airplane is not full, you might want to wait a week. That price might just come down as the airline tries to fill up that plane.
Be an “Almost Last Minute” Traveler
You probably don’t want to wait until a few days before you want to travel, but a few weeks before might score a nice deal. Airlines will often put their least filled flights up for a last minute sale. They’d rather fly full, even if they have to sell those last seats for less.
Check out my earlier blog post, Five Favorite Websites to Score Lower Airfare for additional information on airfare deal finding websites. These two posts go hand-in-hand in the lower airfare price hunt.
Do you have tips to scoring better airfare? Share with us in the Comments section below.
Just a quick note to let you know I am off for the week, enjoying a little R&R with the family, and I won’t be checking much. Have a great week, and I’ll see you on the other side of my week off.
Images from Photo-Dictionary, SkiBreckenridge, SkiUtah, AirfareWatchdog, Hipmunk, Southwest Airlines, and Wikipedia.