The amount of mystery and lore behind how airline tickets are priced and sold would rival that of any Grimm fairy tale or ancient legend. Navigating through ticket booking websites can be daunting, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Everyone has heard the stories of airline passengers discovering that the person in the seat next to them paid just a fraction of the price for practically the same ticket. To keep this from happening to you, consider the following tips on how to book cheap flight tickets:
1. Use a Flight Finder App
There are so many travel apps available that make it easy to compare flight prices. You can use one that searches all flights across all airlines or if you have a preferred airline use their app to be alerted for the flights you are looking for or to be notified of special deals and discounts.
2. Choose Your Flight Days Wisely
Ticket prices vary widely depending on the day. On average, Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly followed by Tuesday and Saturday. On the other end of the spectrum, Friday and Sunday are the most expensive days due to their popularity with business travelers and weekend holidaymakers.
3. Choose Your Flight Times Wisely
Everyone wants to fly when it is the most convenient, so it’s only natural that evening and afternoon flights tend to be the most expensive. If you are trying to reign in your budget, then look for the first flight out on the day you’re traveling. Though this probably means an early wake-up call, it can potentially save you a sizeable amount. Taking things a step further, red-eye flights tend to be even less expensive than early morning flights.
4. Avoid Booking Too Early or Too Late
It’s commonly thought that booking as early as possible will get you the best prices on airline tickets. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Though online booking sites often let you purchase airline tickets up to 1-year in advance, airlines only tend to release discounted tickets around 4 months before the flight. This is generally the best time to purchase airline tickets and it’s is important not to book too late. Once seats start filling on a flight, the prices will go up again.
5. Fly into or out of Smaller Regional Airports
Flying into a major airport can come at a pretty hefty cost. Luckily, many large cities are within reasonable distance from several regional airports. Due to their size and distance from the city, flying into regional airports is often much cheaper than the big city alternative. The downside is a longer transit time once you land, but for many, this is a small price to pay if you’ve scored significant savings on your ticket.
6. Consider Discount Airlines
Discount airlines offer a no-frills service. Booking a flight on a discount airline is great for regional flights, as the amenities offered by larger airlines tend not to matter as much when the flight duration is so short. Discount airlines feature lower prices by incorporating a lot of the above-mentioned tips (e.g. flight times, flight days, landing at regional airports) into their ticket prices.
7. Take Advantage of Miles and/or Credit Card Points
If you travel with a single airline frequently, it might be worth it to sign up for their points program. Most programs allow you to accumulate points through regular credit card purchases or flights. Additionally, check your credit card provider for airline point rewards programs. Points can be applied to airline ticket fares, leaving you only to pay the taxes and airport fees.
8. Purchase One Ticket at a Time
If you’re traveling in a group of two or more, try booking tickets separately. Airlines have to offer the same price to all passengers booking together. Naturally, they tend to charge the highest prices. Booking independently may lead to varied ticket prices, but the aggregate cost for the group will almost always be lower than when booking together.
9. Travel with Hand Baggage Only
The airline industry has faced some hard times over the past 10 years and many have struggled to stay profitable. In a bid to stay afloat, both discount and major airlines have begun charging passengers for check-in or hold baggage. Furthermore, heavier pieces of luggage can incur additional fees. To avoid paying for these costly extras, travel lean and bring hand luggage only.
10. Sign up for Flight Alerts
If you’re planning on traveling in the next few months, sign up for pricing alerts. Many websites and apps will monitor fluctuating airline ticket prices for you and send you an alert when the price has breached your pre-defined threshold. This will not only save money but time as well. Look for services that monitor aggregate websites that search numerous booking engines simultaneously.