16 Travel Secrets to Always Get the Best Airfare Possible
How to make the most of online travel agencies, price alerts, and special offers on every single trip.
Know what a good deal looks like
Before you set off to find the best airfare possible, it’s important to understand what that fare looks like. For example, if the average peak-season rate is $350, you’re unlikely to find anything below $300. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to find this information: “When to fly and buy” reports from hopper.com will tell you what price is a good deal for any given route. And Google Flights’ “tracked prices” feature will email you when the price of a selected itinerary has gone up or down. Also, read up on these 11 secrets travel booking companies don’t want you to know.
Book on the best day
You might have heard that Tuesdays are the best day to book a flight, but it turns out that’s totally a myth. Instead, find the best day of the week to book your particular route, according to thousands of past fares. Again, you’ll want to use hopper.com’s fare reports to find that data.
Keep an eye on fares
Set up a price alert with an online travel agency, such as Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights, as soon as possible. “It’s not only for the fare,” says George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com, “but for the seat.” Crowded flights could leave procrastinators in the dreaded middle seat, or with their families scattered across the plane. These are the 11 secret travel deals you won’t be able to pass up.
Book this many days ahead
According to a study by cheapair.com, you’ll want to book between three-and-a-half months and three weeks out for a domestic flight, and two months ahead for an international flight. Price alerts can help you find the sweet spot for your particular trip.
Check more than one online travel agency
Online travel agencies, such as Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity, can have wildly different deals. “There’s a misconception that every online travel agency [OTA] has the same fares,” says Hobica. “But because they sometimes cut special deals with the airlines, it’s worth it to check them all.” A site such as kayak.com will scan multiple agencies in one search.
Remember the airlines that aren’t on OTAs
To get the best deal possible, you’ll need to check some airline’s deals yourself—as opposed to through an online travel agency. Delta has stopped working with certain OTAs, so make sure you’ve seen its fares for your itinerary before you book. And you’ll always have to check Southwest’s website for its fares. Make sure you’re not following these 10 travel tips that are no longer true.
Book through the airline
If there’s not much difference in price between an airline’s fare and an OTA’s fare, book with the airline. In the event of a delay or a cancellation, you’ll need to go back to whoever issued your ticket to get rebooked, and you could be better off if you dealt with the airline directly rather than with a third-party agent, Explains Akash Gupta of thepointsguy.com. Find out the 7 major airlines that offer the best perks.
Don’t always book the family together
If you’re buying multiple tickets, search for them individually and as a group. Airline ticket prices are full of quirks, and sometimes individual seats are cheaper than a block. If you decide to buy individually, make sure there’s no per-ticket processing charge that would offset the savings.
Fly when no one else wants to
For example, fliers who travel on Christmas morning to save an average of $50 per person compared with traveling on the Friday preceding the holiday. The same savings often apply to other holidays as well. Avoid these 9 common travel mistakes for the best vacation ever.
Try an air + hotel bundle
Booking both at the same time may cost a lot less than booking separately. “If the hotel doesn’t have to show their price and the airlines don’t have to show their price, both are willing to give lower prices not available otherwise,” Tim MacDonald, former general manager of expedia.com, told the New York Times.