Hello, My name is Jordy. I’ve been traveling for over ten years, and I understand that airfare is frequently one of the costliest aspects of trip planning, but it doesn’t have to be if you utilize the strategies I will share with you today. Some tips will work for some, but investing time could save hundreds of dollars on your travels. Below, I will explain how to book a cheap flight and get the best airfare deal.
Buy multiple seats separately
If you’re traveling as a couple or group, see the cost of a single seat compared to when multiple cores are selected. Now, Airlines have something called Fair buckets, which are groups of seats at different prices depending on whether or not certain perks are included. These perks include having refundable tickets or checked luggage and seat selections included in your ticket price. When multiple seats are booked on the same itinerary, they usually try to put everybody in the same Fair bucket, which may bump you into a group of more expensive tickets.
If there isn’t enough room for all of you in the cheaper Fair bucket, for example, booking as a couple, the search engine might show you two tickets at $800 each. Still, there’s one seat left in the cheaper Fair bucket, which is only $700 for the seat. Now, if you purchase your two seats separately, you can buy one of your tickets from that more affordable Fair bucket and then save yourself $100.
The best time to book
A quick guideline would be to book your domestic flights at least one month before your departure date and two months before an international flight. Booking your flights six months to a year in advance can be better, but only sometimes. Flights generally get more expensive as seats sell and the dates get closer, especially once you are in that 3-week window. Airlines know that business travelers usually make last-minute purchases.
Where the tickets are being expensed to the company or spontaneous vacationers who are less concerned about savings, so they can get away with jacking up prices, especially if it’s on a popular route, now some standard advice that you’ll see is that it’s cheaper to buy your tickets on certain days of the week. A previous study by Google Flight said that Tuesdays and Wednesdays were the most affordable. At the same time, a recent survey by Expedia found that Sunday was the cheapest day to purchase your airfare.
Still, the reality is that there is yet to be an exact science as to which day of the week will be most affordable. There needs to be more consistency to it these days. Complex algorithms with many different variables manage the cost of airfare. When a good deal pops up, it will last for a day or so before it’s gone or sold out, so your best bet is to regularly keep an eye on those deals as they get released.
Best Days to Fly
Midweek days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays often present as the most affordable options for flying, a stark contrast to Fridays and Saturdays, which typically emerge as the priciest. This pattern boils down to a simple case of supply and demand: most people aim to maximize their vacation time by departing on a Friday, right after their last workday, and returning on a Sunday, just before the new work week begins.
Utilizing the calendar view on booking platforms can be insightful. By shifting your vacation a few days earlier or later, you can save a significant amount, sometimes even a few hundred dollars. This slight adjustment in travel dates can lead to surprisingly economical choices.
Flight comparison websites
Flight comparison websites like Kayak, Skyscanner, Mando, and Google Flights are aggregators. These sites don’t book tickets directly; they search through various booking engines, airfare sites, and online travel agencies, compiling the results in one place. They display different flight options, and clicking on one redirects you to the respective site.
Each flight comparison website’s effectiveness depends on the range of sites it aggregates. This is why different comparison websites may yield different results. It’s also worth checking prices on mobile apps, as some websites offer better deals to app users.
The key to finding the best deal is to use multiple booking services for comparison and to check frequently. This approach increases your chances of landing the best value for your trip.
Long haul savings
For long-haul flights, like crossing an ocean, choosing a significant hub close to your destination often results in cheaper options. This is because long-haul flights typically involve important carriers, and booking a ticket with them usually means staying within the same airline alliance or page. As a result, your choices for connecting flights could be improved.
However, booking your connecting flights separately opens up a world of options, including budget airlines not affiliated with significant alliances. You can mix and match to find the most cost-effective flights.
There are risks involved, though. Should your first flight experience delays or cancellations, it can lead to complications. Additionally, this approach requires more time and effort in planning and managing the logistics of your journey.
Round Trip vs one way
Occasionally, buying two separate one-way tickets can prove more cost-effective than opting for a round-trip fare. Other times, it’s the opposite and more expensive. There’s no definite rule for this. The best approach is to search for both options – round trip and two one-way tickets – and then compare them to see which is more cost-effective.
However, finding concrete evidence that prices are being adjusted based on cookie tracking is challenging. Despite this uncertainty, using incognito mode when searching for flights is still a good idea. It requires no extra effort and eliminates any potential price manipulation based on browsing history.
Alerts & price tracking
If you’re interested in a specific flight, many websites offer the option to set up a price alert. This means you’ll receive notifications whenever there’s a change in the flight’s price. Some sites also provide insights into how the fare has fluctuated over time. If there’s a significant price drop, you’ll be immediately notified, allowing you to purchase your ticket before it sells. Setting up alerts and waiting is the best strategy to secure the cheapest flight for routes where you have limited flexibility.
Chase the deal, not the destination
I appreciate the ‘everywhere search’ feature on Skyscanner and Google Flights. It shows all flight options departing from your chosen airport. I’ve planned trips by looking at the map and choosing an affordable flight to an exciting place. For example, our trip to Northern Spain was booked this way. I had not heard of the destination before, but the price was appealing. It turned out to be an incredible trip, full of pleasant surprises.
By considering alternative airports near your primary destination, you can save on flights, not just on long-haul journeys. For example, flying into Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami often costs less, as budget airlines typically use smaller, secondary airports. This is seen in London, too, where Heathrow is the central hub, but Gatwick and Stansted often host low-cost carriers.
However, remember to factor in the distance of the alternative airport from your final destination and the cost of transportation to get there. Also, as mentioned before, shifting your travel dates by a day or two can lead to significant savings. It’s best to avoid flying around holidays, which are usually more expensive. But passing on the holiday itself, like Christmas Day, is often much cheaper, as fewer people want to travel then. Being flexible with your dates and destinations is one of the most effective ways to reduce flight costs.
Newsletters and Subscriptions
Constantly searching for new flight deals online can be time-consuming. Only some have the time for that. That’s where newsletters and paid subscriptions can be helpful. Many free newsletters send you regular emails with the latest deals. To find the best ones, look for newsletters specific to the airport you typically depart from, especially if you’re in the US.
If you’d instead not do the searching yourself, consider signing up for paid services like Fairdrop or Going.com (formerly Scotch Cheap Flights). These websites use algorithms and dedicated teams to scour the web for the lowest flight prices and notify you of these deals. It’s a convenient way to stay updated on discounts without the hassle of constant searching.
In conclusion, booking affordable flights is achievable by starting early, staying flexible with dates, using fare comparison tools, and considering alternative options. Sign up for fare alerts, explore loyalty programs, and be patient. With these strategies, you can unlock budget-friendly travel opportunities and explore the world without overspending. Safe travels!