Tips to Finding the Best Airfare Deals -Here is the ultimate guide that covers everything you need to know for how to find cheap flights.
Book Early for Cheap Flights
Plane tickets will generally jump in price during the final three weeks before departure. Booking as soon as possible is one of the easiest ways to ensure you will get the lowest price. You should be able to secure the best rates if you book within three months to 30 days from departure. Also, if you use a travel search engine like Google Flights or Kayak, they have a price predictor algorithm that analyzes price trends to help predict if ticket prices will increase, decrease or stay the same. It’s not 100% accurate, but they are usually pretty good as they crunch the numbers on thousands of different routes.
Besides price, another reason to book early is to ensure you get the seat you want. If you wait too long to book a desirable seat, you will end up paying extra money for a “premium” seat.
Set Price Alerts
By looking for flights early, you will be able to pay less in airfare. If you’re not ready to buy a ticket, you can set a price alert that will notify you when a ticket price increases or decreases. Ticket prices can fluctuate on a daily basis, even a small drop can result in a large savings if you need to buy a ticket for each member of your family. Google Flights will even show you the different flight trends in a graph format.
Another way to save on airfare is by having flexible travel plans. Two of the easiest ways to find cheap flights is to fly mid-week or on the actual holiday (i.e. Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day) since fewer people travel on these days. You might also consider flying to a different airport, for example, flying into Tampa instead of Orlando can save you $30 a ticket. The alternate airport or travel dates might not be an option, but, flexibility is one of the easiest ways to lower your airfare costs. So start by searching for flights first finding the cheapest flights, then firm up your travel dates.
Book a Connecting Flight
If you aren’t in a hurry to get to your final destination, booking a connecting flight can be cheaper than a non-stop flight. The search engines will let you filter flight itineraries by non-stop, 1 stop, and 2+ stops. The more the stops, the lower the airfare. Even flying mixed carriers might be able to save you some cash as well.
Consider Discount Airlines
While a major airline can get you just about anywhere, the cost can also be notably more. These airlines can help you save money on domestic and international flights:
Use More Than One Travel Portal
Before you book directly from the carrier, you should also compare prices with at least one additional booking site. Sometimes, the better deal can be found from a third-party site. There are many different ones to choose from, but, three of the best are Momondo, Google Flights, and Priceline.
Momondo is probably the most comprehensive portal as it analyzes the prices of over 30 travel portals and carrier websites. They also have excellent research tools which make it easy to find cheap routes. And, they list the prices of Southwest Airlines flight which most do not.
Travel At The Right Time
Getting a good deal on flights means traveling at the right time. It’s less about when you buy your flights and more about what day you actually fly on. You’ll want to fly on the cheapest days to fly.
- Flying on off-peak days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays is almost always cheaper. Avoid busy travel days that include Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays.
- May through June and August through September offer better prices then during the busy times of the year, including summer and holidays like Christmas.
- Thanksgiving is a great time to travel internationally at low prices.
- Always book at least 30-45 days in advance whenever possible, and even farther in advance for international flights.
Browse Airline Specials
If you’re going to wait until the final weeks to book, you might be able to find some last-minute deals directly from the carrier. This can be hit or miss as it depends on how badly the carrier wants to sell any remaining seats. Or, if they recently launched a new route and are trying to generate interest. The good part is that these specials don’t always require you to fly a redeye flight just to save a few bucks!
Use an Airline Credit Card to Avoid Baggage Fees
If you need to check a bag, most airline rewards cards will let you waive the baggage fees for at least one traveling companion. The Delta Amex credit cards will let you check up to nine bags for free. The only two stipulations are you must book a flight directly with the carrier and use that credit card to pay for the flight.
Use Award Miles
If you would rather spend miles than cash, or maybe a combination of the two, miles can be most valuable when redeemed for expensive cash flights. There are many different award flight options as you can pool your points from a co-branded airline miles credit card like one of the Southwest credit cards with the points you earn from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here are the best Credit Cards for Airline Travel:
- Chase Sapphire Premium Card
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
GREAT program to manage all your loyalty program balances in one place: your Points Loyalty Wallet. Add programs to your wallet by entering your account information, and they’ll show you all of your balances at a glance, updated in real time. Currently, you can track over 100 programs. You can redeem your loyalty points and miles for more than just travel! Use your wallet to reward yourself with shopping, dining and entertainment gift cards from retailers like Amazon.com, Best Buy, iTunes, Macy’s, Starbucks, Cineplex, AMC, Target and many more. Build up your favorite balances faster by using your wallet to move points and miles between your loyalty programs. There’s no fee to exchange points or miles between your programs. This is a great way to get the points you need for airline and hotel miles. Join Points.com here.