1. Practice yoga
You don’t really need to practice your down dog, but you do need to be flexible in your travel dates to get the best fares. The cheapest airfares are usually found on flights that depart on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You will often pay a premium if you fly on Friday, Sunday or Monday. Use a flexible date calendar to find the cheapest days for your flight on websites like Kayak and Orbitz.
2. Lose some sleep
As with being flexible in the days of week that you fly, you’ll often find the cheapest flights on late night departures or super early in the morning. Make sure to compare prices for flights that depart during these odd times of day.
3. Sing Merry Christmas in the airport
It’s nearly impossible to find cheap airfare departing during the holidays, even if you book early. But, a little known secret about holiday travel is to book a flight that departs on the holiday itself. You could try flying out early on Christmas day, and flying home on New Years Day. Thanksgiving day is usually a relative bargain and some good deals can also be found on Christmas Eve if you look early enough. Flying on Christmas may not sound great to you, but if cheap holiday flights are what you are looking for this may be your best bet.
4. Mark your calendar
Book your flight a couple days before the airline’s “advance purchase” deadline expires and you might score a discounted seat. If the flight is not booking up as quickly as expected, most airlines will drop the rates right before the advance purchase deadline. Check with the airline to find out when that deadline is, which is often 21 to 14 days prior to departure. Whatever you do, don’t wait until after that deadline or you will miss the boat on cheap fares, and beware this can be risky if you don’t have flexible dates!
5. Eat turkey while booking online
Similar to saving by flying on a holiday, you will often find cheap flights if you book flights online during a holiday. Most people are not going online and booking flights on Thanksgiving Day, so many airlines will lower their rates to entice customers. Otherwise, some experts recommend booking flights online on Tuesday afternoons, as this is when most airlines reset their fares and you can find cheaper deals.
6. Drive a few miles
Check the airfares for nearby airports, especially if you plan to rent a car. When flying to large cities, they will often have more than one major airport nearby (such as LAX, ONT, SNA) and the fares can vary drastically. At times you will find airfares that are much cheaper if you choose to land at an airport a few miles outside of your destination – just make sure it isn’t too far or the savings may not be worth it!
7. Don’t forget the little people
Most airfare comparison websites do not include airfares from small airlines such as Allegiant or Jet Blue. Find the website for the airport located in your destination and see if they have any small “discount” airlines that serve them. If you also have a nearby departure airport for that airline you can save some serious bucks by flying with these smaller airlines.
8. Stick with it
After you book a cheap flight, it is almost always non-refundable. If your travel plans change, you probably won’t convince most airlines to refund you, even if you cancel for a good reason. For a few more bucks, it is wise to get travel cancellation insurance that allows you to cancel for many reasons and get a refund. You can compare plans on SquareMouth.com. If you don’t get the insurance and end up needing to cancel, consider calling the airline and asking them how much their “change fee” is. You may be allowed to pay a change fee and use the airline ticket on a future date. If you choose to do this and the flight is more expensive on your new travel dates, you will also need to pay the increase in airfare. This is usually better than not getting a refund at all.
9. Get on the list
Airlines typically have “sales” a few times a year, and the best way to find out about them is by subscribing to their email list. If you join their frequent flyer and mileage programs, you may be offered exclusive airfare deals and other travel discounts. When you first start planning a trip, set up airfare alerts on Airfare Watchdog to get alerted when prices drop.
10. Be diligent
Airfare prices constantly fluctuate. Even after you book, check the prices a couple times before you depart. If you find a cheaper fare, ask the airline if they will refund you the difference (ie. match the new price). If you book your airfare on a website like Priceline, they have a Best Price Guarantee that will refund you 100% of the difference if you find the exact same flight for a cheaper price.