Summer is here and hopefully your thoughts are turning to booking that fun vacation. But wait; wouldn’t you rather have a few extra pennies in your pocket? If you want to maximize the chance of getting the best deal, please take a look at my 5 secrets for getting the best airfare.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday normally have the cheapest flights.
Early morning flights are typically the cheapest but also offer you the best chance of not being delayed as the planes tend to be at the airport ready to fly, and not dependent on coming in from another route with delays attached.
If you need to fly around the holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter when the number of travellers increases, then the best advise is to book as early as possible. CheapFlights.com actually found that tickets for Christmas were cheapest if booked in June. I found some valuable advice about booking holiday airfares on the Cheap Flights website.
Yes, there is a good time to buy US domestic air tickets; it’s Tuesdays. Industry insiders know that the airlines have a window of Tuesday lunchtime through Thursday when their prices are slightly reduced.
If you have the luxury of planning ahead of time, then don’t procrastinate. Start looking at the prices for the flights a few months before you want to fly, but ensure you book no later than a month before.
Keep an eye on oil prices. Why? Because jet fuel is the airlines biggest operating expense. We are currently at very low prices, but if you see the price of oil start to increase, chances are the airlines will increase their ticket prices accordingly.
Worried about booking early and then seeing the prices drop? Yapta is a website that monitors fare prices, even after you have booked your ticket. Did you know that many airlines will refund the price difference? Sign up for a Yapta alert and you will get an email should the price drop. The site also offers the facility to help with the refund process.
Where you go to purchase your airline ticket is equally as important. Sites like Expedia and Travelocity are great places to start, but if you really want to maximize your savings then you need to compare all the airlines on the same route. If you are flexible with your travel dates, you can score even more savings, as sometimes flights on one day are cheaper than the next. Visit Googleflights.com to search multiple days and importantly multiple airlines.
Did you know that US airlines alone made $6.16 billion (yes billion) with reservation change fees and checked baggage fees.
There is a page on the TripAdvisor website that sets out the various fees that airlines charge for checked bags. It is always a good idea to double check with the airlines own website as they do tend to change their fee structure from time to time but this chart gives you a good way to compare the airlines.
The Air Fare Watchdog website gives a comprehensive list of various charges by the US airlines. Your costs can soon mount if you need to make a change to your ticket but some airlines also charge for such things as selecting your seat or making the reservation over the phone. I recently read a report from a travel blogger who was trying to book a cheap flight to Norway but after taking into account all of the budget airlines fees, she could have booked with a well known airline, checked her bags, chosen her seat, and had food for less.
Connecting flights will typically be cheaper than a direct flight as most people don’t want the hassle. But if you have the stomach for this there is also another benefit, air miles. Most frequent flyer miles work on the number of miles you travel so if you make a connecting flight you will not go the most direct way and so add more miles to your account.
Sign up for fare alerts from AirFareWatchdog to receive deals from various airlines so that you can take advantage of deals that work for you.
Make the most of those frequent flyer miles. Stay loyal to one airline if you can to maximize your mileage points but at least stay within the same network such as Star Alliance. Get bonus miles by using the airlines credit card. Watch out for the airline promotions such as upgrades for buddy tickets.
Why not give just a few of the ideas above a go and see how it impacts the bottom line of your next vacation. Please remember to come back and let me know how you get on and if you have any other ‘secrets’ then please pass them along.
Featured photo attribution: Denise Rowlands