Getting super discount airline tickets is difficult these days, as airline seem to fill their seats pretty well. There are some tricks, however, that may help getting the lowest possible rates.
Pick the cheapest time to fly
Many airlines offer an opportunity to view rates on calendar and it is easy to compare fares on different days of the week. Weekend flights are usually more expensive, so consider flying on any other day of the week. Wednesday seems to be the perfect day.
Sign up to receive travel deal alerts and discount airline tickets
Most airlines offer free newsletter. Its easy way to stay up to date with latest deals and discounts. Many also advertise on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes they offer very attractive last minute deals – as low as 30$.
Non-stop or multi-stop?
Usually the multi-stop flights are a bit cheaper. However, there is a risk of additional spending (coffee, snacks, sometimes overnight at hotel) while waiting for connecting flight. Also, the time is wasted in transit. So it is worth considering, whether a non-stop flight is a better idea.
Flying from other airports
Your home airport may not always have the best rates, so consider booking your flight from a nearby city. Some bigger city airports have fantastic one-way and return deals, plus more connections and many competing airlines. Driving somewhere to fly out from may be worth the time.
Best time to book is 47 days before departure
Research, based on over 5 million sold seats last year, shows that the best time to book airline tickets is exactly 47 days before take-off. Other sources show time frame anywhere between 4 and 6 weeks. My personal experience (Europe) shows that some airlines make their cheapest fares available as early as 6 months before the flights.
Booking on certain days
According to Smarter Travel, Monday and Tuesday are the best days to book your airfare. That is the day when airlines release new flight listings. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are considered the cheapest days to travel. By the way, on Saturdays airports are generally less crowded, which is a nice bonus.
Tracking flight prices
It may be worth the time to track prices, as they tend to change (sometimes multiple times a day). Luckily there are flight-tracking services (like Yapta) that will do the job for you and alert you once the price meets your criteria.
When airlines make promotions with return tickets, many passengers feel the urge to buy them even if they use them just one-way. The reason is because return tickets are simply cheaper than one-way. This is called throwaway ticketing and is banned by most airlines. However, it might be worth doing, as airlines may never notice.
Getting one-way flights
It used to be cheaper to buy return flights, but nowadays airlines are offering one-way flights (called ’a la carte’) for the price that they should be – half of return ticket price. So it is wise to look around and probably even book one-way tickets with different airlines.
Not sure where you want to fly? Skyscanner has an option to search „everywhere“, which will list the cheapest options from your home airport, sorted by price.
Fare drop refund
By law, you can request full refund of your flight ticket 24 hours after the purchase (tickets booked at least 1 week prior to departure). Considering that, it is a great idea to book the cheapest price available and get refund if the fare drops the next day. Some airlines also let you make fee-free changes and get credit for future travel.
Clear your browser’s cookies
Some websites track you search history, so they may actually show you more expensive flights just because you are searching for them all the time. Consider searching from different device or clear your browser memory.
Buying frequent flyer miles
If you are planning a longer trip, it may be worth investing and buying frequent flyer miles from the airline. Mostly it’s not worth the money, but if they have discounts (like a 100% bonus on any miles purchased), it may be worth it.
Faking your location
Pricing in different countries can vary a lot, so it might be a good idea to mask your IP address, to make it look like you are buying from a different country. This way you may look like a local and in fact no one is going to check that later.
Breaking up groups
Many airlines limit their discounted seats, so booking two seats at a time may turn out to be cheaper than making a reservation for a group of 4.
„Hidden city“ itinerary
Imagine you need to fly somewhere, but direct flight is more expensive than a stop-over at this city with connecting flight somewhere else. In that case you could just walk out of airport building and miss your connecting flight. However, you would have to travel without luggage, plus you might get into trouble with the airline’s policies and lose your miles.
This risky booking involves two connecting flights with tight connection times. So when arriving at the airport, you might ask politely to re-book to direct flight instead. This might work if the flight is not fully booked.
In order to avoid baggage fees, make sure to wear heavy clothes on you instead of putting them in the luggage. There is also so called „luggage jacket“ – a great way to save on excess luggage fees.
Red Eye flights
Overnight flights are quite popular with travelers on a budget – they help to save time and hotel night. The minus is probably bad sleep.
Parking at airport hotels
Some airport hotels, if you stay there one night, may let you park your car for the length of your tip for much less money than the airport parking facility.
Bid on flight
SkyAuction lets you bid on flights. However, you may purchase only one ticket at the time and possibly have an opportunity to buy more. This is a great deal for single travelers.
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