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Flying is expensive. That is just the world we live in now. However, you don’t have to completely be at the mercy of the airlines. There are a few tricks of the trade that many frequent travelers use when booking their flights. As long as you have a little know-how and a lot of patience, you might be able to get a flight for a price that won’t break the bank. Here are few things to look for when shopping:
It is common industry knowledge that the cheapest days to fly are on Tuesday and Wednesday, so if flights in or out of a city may be cheaper on those days. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the slowest days for business travel, which means that there are more empty seats that airlines need to fill.
Also, the best time to fly is early. The earlier the better. The first flights in the morning are often the cheapest, probably because there isn’t a lot of demand for them since most people don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight.
There isn’t a specific day that is the cheapest to book. Depending on the airline or travel site, deals could be released on any day of the week. So how do you take advantage of airfare deals? The best way is to sign up for deal alerts that are specific for when you want to fly. Most travel sites like Hotwire, will allow you to enter in your travel information and they will notify you when there are deals on your flight. Cheaptickets.com actually allows you to set a certain price for your trip, and they will notify you if the fare goes below that price. And TripAdvisor shows you comparisons from all the different deal sites so you can find the best price for your flight.
Priceline also allows you to name your own price, as long as you aren’t too picky about times or carrier. This can usually shave a little (or a lot) of money from your airfare.
Many people say that the earlier you book, the better, but according a recent study by CheapAir.com, the optimal time to book is 49 days in advance for domestic flights. This is based on 560 million airfares that the site reviewed. They also say that the optimal time to book for international flights is 81 days.
Of course, if it’s a high traffic time like Christmas or Thanksgiving, the earlier you book, the better. Once seats on the airplane start to book up, the price is bound to go up.
Booking through the airline’s site is obviously the most straightforward, especially if you are part of their loyalty program. However, airline sites often don’t have the best deals for flights, since many of these deals are available because the travel itinerary includes a few different airlines. It’s better to look at a travel deals website first, to see what kind of deals you can get. Here are my favorites:
TripAdvisor: This is the best site to find flight deals. It checks all of the different deal sites to find the lowest prices on the flight that you want. It’s a one-stop shopping experience, which is much easier than going to each different site to compare prices. Check out their flight tool here.
CheapTickets: My favorite thing about CheapTickets is that they allow you to pick an itinerary and then set up alerts for when the price falls below a certain price. They also tend to have great deals on flights. Check out some of their deals here.
Orbitz: Obviously, Orbitz is the biggest name in online travel deal websites, and for good reason. They have an easy-to-use interface, include more airlines than other sites, and include some of the best package deals on the web. You can check out some of their deals here.
Hotwire: Hotwire also has a price alert that lets you know when your trip falls below a certain price, which is great. They also include every kind of vacation package you can think of, including cruises and theater tickets. You can check out their travel deals here.