Six tips for travelers seeking airfare deals and discounts
Sometimes time is on your side when it comes to planning air travel. Other times, however, you simply need to travel right away. Before heading to the airport, try these tips and shortcuts to find cheap airfare. Taking the time to shop around, along with buying tickets early is usually your best bet. But sometimes, buying tickets late, and taking advantage of last-minute travel deals can be the best way to save money.
How to Find Cheap Airfare: Six Tips for Travelers
1. The Early Bird Gets the Plane
Particularly if you will be flying during peak travel times, or heading to popular vacation or holiday destinations, be sure to research and reserve your tickets well in advance. Typically, the rates for airline tickets increase every seven days. Aim to purchase your ticket at least 21 days out to get airfare deals … from there, the prices will increase every week, with the most dramatic increase three days prior to the flight.
2. Dare to Compare
Surfing the net really is the best way to find cheap airfare rates, discounts, and travel promotions. When it comes to seeking out great rates, technology really is your friend! Begin your search with major airline providers such as U.S. Air, Southwest, United, etc., just to get a feel for what the standard rates are. Then, visit consolidator sites such as Kayak.com, Travelocity, CheapTickets.com, Priceline.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com. This will help you to compare the rates of different airlines to find one that will fit your budget.
3. Stay Flexible
Sometimes, the flexibility to shift travel plans a day or two earlier or later can make a vast difference in the price of a ticket. Experiment by plugging in a variety of slightly different departure and arrival dates into the online booking calendars for travel sites. Also be sure to check the airfares from all the airports in your local vicinity. If you are willing to depart from a different airport, or fly into a neighboring city, you may be able to save a bundle on ticket prices. Typically, in the airline industry, the cheapest travel days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
4. Search Out Promotions and Discounts
Many airlines offer special promotions and package deals. Take the time to research these specials, particularly if you are traveling as a family, with young children, or if you are seniors over the age of 65. Sites such as UStravel.org and SmarterTravel.com, are great places to find airfare deals, specials and package savings. Also check directly with the tourism departments or visitor websites of any cities or locations you might be visiting to see if other specials are available.
5. Get a Refund if Fares Drop
Not all airlines practice this policy … and certainly, most do not publicize the policy. However, many airlines will refund you the difference if ticket prices go down after you have made your purchase. There is no doubt about it – it pays to at least ask. Check out a site called Yapta.com, which can track your flight fares and itineraries for you once you have made a purchase, and will notify you by e-mail if the fares drop before your departure date.
6. Better Late Than Nev
Believe it or not, buying plane tickets at the last minute can often offer tremendous savings, but it’s best not to make a regular practice of this, because great fares certainly are not always guaranteed at the last minute. However, sometimes, if airlines have failed to fill their plane, travel deals appear at the last moment. Check out websites such as LastMinuteTravel.com, and search directly on airline websites for weekly listings of last minute airfare deals.
Ultimately, there is no perfectly reliable shortcut for finding cheap airfare. The process can take plenty of time and energy on research, along with altering dates or airports. However, if you are willing to commit the time and effort, there is no telling what type of incredible savings you might discover.