With the holidays around the corner, you can be sure the airline companies are hiking prices and tagging on extra fees to already fee-heavy tickets. On the bright side, there are ways to ensure that you’re getting the lowest possible airfare out there.
1. Buy Early
Especially during peak travel periods, making reservations late can cost you money. Airline ticket prices typically go up in the last two weeks before flying, so if you’re planning ahead, try to make the call before this deadline. And if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll want to book even earlier — from three to six months in advance — for the best deals.
That said, occasionally you can get lucky if you wait, which brings us to:
2. Buy Late
Sometimes you can buy tickets at the very last minute for a great price if the airlines have open seats. You can find such fares at specialized sites like LastMinuteTravel.com, or sometimes on airline websites and online booking sites such as Expedia. If you are flexible with your itinerary and dates, you can find fantastic money-savers to very attractive travel destinations.
3. Shop Around
No matter how good it sounds, you should never book the first fare you see. Start your search by checking a few of the major online travel providers such as Travelocity, TripAdvisor Flights or Kayak. With this information, you can head directly to the airline website to see if the same flights are cheaper (some airlines guarantee to offer the lowest possible fares on their own websites). While you’re there, check to see if the airline is running any sales or promotions to your destination.
4. Know When to Buy
The hardest part of booking a flight is knowing when to stop tracking fares and make that final purchase. Kayak.com can help you reach that decision, offering fare predictions for most major cities. Keep in mind that many airlines launch fare sales on Tuesdays — so if you decide to buy on a Monday, you may be somber when your destination goes on sale the next day.
5. Be Flexible
If you live close to more than one airport, check out the fares from all of the airports near you. Many online fare searching engines will ask you if you are willing to depart from or arrive in more than one city. Yes! Also, experiment with different travel dates; shifting your itinerary by a month, a week or even a few days can make a significant difference in fares. You’ll usually find the lowest fares for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6. Don’t Forget the Discounters
As their nickname suggests, discount airlines can save you a bundle. Luckily for consumers, discounters are popping up more frequently on aggregators and booking sites.If you’re traveling outside the U.S., don’t forget to check the international discount airlines as well.
7. Get a Refund When Fares Go Down
If fares go down after you’ve purchased your ticket, ask for a refund! You may not always get one, but policies vary by airline. Many do not publicize that they will refund you the difference if prices go down. It can’t hurt to ask. Yapta.com will track flights for you after you purchase and notify you if the fares go down. Orbitz.com has a Best Price Guarantee, which entitles you to money back if you find your itinerary for less on another website.
Now you know some tips and tricks guaranteed to get you the lowest airfare, so nothing’s going to stop you from going on that vacation or from seeing your friends and family over the holiday season.