How to Find the Cheapest Airfare

Written by Scott Travis

March 5, 2016

How to Find the Cheapest Airfare

The American public wants an answer! Is there some kind of magical knowledge that people “in the know” have to help them get the great deals on flights? Frankly, no. I wish there was! There is, however, a great deal of research on airfares and some honest companies have invested much time and energy trying to find the answer to the age-old question–at least since the dawn of the jet airplane–How can I find the cheapest airfare?

Guidelines When Booking Flights

  • Know what the average prices are–start researching about 3 months before your trip. Don’t buy yet. Get to know the highs and lows.
  • We live in Denver, a big Southwest Airlines hub. There are definite advantages to traveling with Southwest. TWO FREE BAGS, free cancel and changes, and cheap prices. And 3 cheers for non-stop flights to Cancun, Mexico! (Ay! Ay! Ay!) I recommend you get on their email list and take advantage of their sales. For instance, my family is traveling to California on Southwest for a pre-holiday trip for $59 per person/per direction, and when we saw that, we booked quickly and fashioned our vacation around that! Cheap airfare can be a reason to create a vacation–just because you can get there so cheaply!!
  • For GENERAL (non-holiday) year-around prices, Kayak.com found that booking 21 days prior to departure is best. For international flights, the lowest point is 34 days out. Farecompare.com suggests that domestic tickets are best bought between 3 months and 30 days before departure. International tickets is between 5 ½ months and 1 ½ to 2 months before departure. Do NOT book within 2 weeks of departure, because prices skyrocket at that point.
  • Farecompare.com says the cheapest day to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays (the absolute cheapest day to fly) or Saturdays. Cheapest times to travel: early morning, right after lunch, around dinner time, or red eye/overnight flights. (the times no one else wants to fly)
  • If you’re going to be gone for about a week, it’s best to depart on a Saturday and return on a Monday. You’ll save about 16% that way. For international flights, depart on a Tuesday and return on a Wednesday. Save about 21%–that can be a lot of money!
  • The Best time to buy a flight is Tuesdays at 1pm (Denver).
  • When you find a good price, buy quickly. Don’t wait for the BEST price. It may not happen. You’ll recognize the good price because of the research you’ve been doing!

Booking Holiday Flights

  • The rules all change around the holidays. The cheapest month to buy those tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas is October. The prices jump come November. Try traveling on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Prices are much cheaper–and you won’t be the only one at the airport, guaranteed!
  • Spring Break: Fly on a Tuesday of that week, return on a Saturday. Start checking out the prices 3 months beforehand, but complete the purchase by 30 days before.

Flight Booking Hot Tip

Try searching for your airfare with just one passenger to begin with. A certain quirk in the law says that all passengers in a group have to pay the same price for their airfare. If you have a party of 4, it may say that the tickets are $207 each, but one person alone could be $179. That’s because the airline has one, or possibly 2 or 3, tickets available for $179, but not 4. So, you get the price of $207 each. So, if you just book one passenger at a time, the price could be lower for one or more of your tickets and overall, you could possibly save quite a bit of money!

Websites that can educate you further, or assist you in purchasing your airfare!

 

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