The cheapest flights are 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. Can't make that? Try these insider booking tips.
If you're flying in the U.S., book airfare about seven weeks before your departure to find the best deals.
With the holiday travel season just around the corner, you’re probably wondering how you can get in on a good deal. After all, airfare is undoubtedly one of the most expensive components of any domestic or international travel plan, and prices can vary wildly at times – from manageable to downright cost-prohibitive. The good news is, there are still a few secrets left when it comes to finding airfare you can afford. And, even better, the hassle of searching might be less labor intensive than you ever realized.
If you’re searching for airfare you can truly afford, try these simple tips before pulling the trigger:
Book 49 days in advance. CheapAir.com combed through data on over 11, 000 domestic flights to discover the optimum number of days in advance you should book airfare. According to the numbers, the sweet spot for most airfare is around 49 days, or seven weeks, in advance.
Book further out around the holidays. The same CheapAir.com study from last year showed that the optimum booking time was slightly earlier for peak travel times. For example, the cheapest flights around Thanksgiving were booked 96 days, or 14 weeks, in advance.
Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. According to FareCompare.com, the cheapest days to fly in the U.S. are the days less popular with consumers. And apparently, those days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Avoid popular flying days. The concept of supply and demand applies to many things, including airfare. That’s why flying on popular flying days, such as Friday or Sunday, will set you back more. If you want to save, avoid these days and opt for the less popular travel days instead.
Consider flying very early … or very late. Most people don’t want to fly at the crack of dawn or past their bedtime. Because of this, early and late flights are typically far cheaper than flights during normal business hours.
Book your flight on a Tuesday. FareCompare.com reports that the cheapest flights are typically at 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. Even if you don’t book your flight then, it never hurts to look.
Book two one-way flights. Round-trip flights are typically cheaper to book, but that isn’t always the case. Before you sign up for a round-trip flight, price out options for two one-way bookings and consider two different airlines. It might be cheaper that way, and you’ll never know unless you compare.
Accept a layover. Nonstop flights are typically the most convenient – and therefore the most expensive. Instead of choosing the easy option, look for flights with at least one layover. Chances are, this little inconvenience will add up to big savings.
Take advantage of the Internet. The Internet is a treasure trove of information if you’re looking for ways to save on airfare. For starters, use a fare comparing search engine like Kayak.com, or even Google’s Flight Search. Shop around online until you find the best deal.
Follow airlines on social media. Before committing yourself to a certain flight at a specific price, follow your favorite airlines on social media and sign up for their mailing lists. Doing so could mean hearing about insider deals and saving even more.
Sign up for a co-branded rewards credit card. Many airlines offer a co-branded credit card that can help you earn airline miles, free checked baggage and more. They may also offer a hefty sign-up bonus just for signing up and spending a certain amount of money within a specific time frame.
Join frequent flier programs. In addition to getting an airline rewards credit card, you can sign up for that airline’s frequent flier program. This can help you earn free miles for airfare you’re purchasing anyway.
Travel to a different airport. Airfare at airports within 100 miles of each other can vary drastically, making it increasingly important to consider airfare to and from different cities and towns. The cost of driving to an airport an hour away could end up being far less than the difference in your airline ticket.
Trying one of these tips could lead to hundreds of dollars in savings, but applying all of them could mean saving even more. So start searching online for deals, and consider traveling during off-peak times and from airports within 100 miles of your home. And don’t forget to sign up for offers from your favorite airlines; you never know when the perfect deal could come along.
And no matter what, don’t give up. The ideal airfare is out there somewhere – all you have to do is find it.