These days it is so easy to book travel yourself. With all the websites and apps available, purchasing your own airfare has never been easier. But there’s a problem. How do you know you’re getting the best possible deal? Here are some of our favorite tips & websites for booking your next flight and getting the best deal possible.
Cheap Airfare Tips
- Buy Tickets on Tuesdays! Tuesday afternoon is the best time to purchase tickets. At this point in the week, most airlines have released their deals and promotions for the week. Also, Tuesday is just not a popular day for people to shop for travel. Shopping on weekends will often have you finding higher fares because that is when everyone is shopping and booking.
- For domestic fares, start really comparing prices 3 months out, but the optimal time to book is about 30 days out. Flying international? Start shopping a bit earlier – about 6 months out – and aim to get it booked with about 6 weeks to go. Of course, if you see a great fare or sale, jump on it any time.
- Go directly to the source. We’ve listed some of our favorite websites for airfares below, but always be sure to check the actual airline websites when comparing fares. Often, they will run their own sales that don’t show up anyplace else.
- Take advantage of the 24 hr rule. Once you’ve booked your ticket, be sure to check back the next morning. If the fare has gone down, you can often contact the airline to rebook or cancel your booking and rebook at the lower fare with no penalty.
- Fly on a Wednesday. Wednesday is the cheapest day of the week to fly, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Wednesdays are also great days to book reward travel (often for fewer points), or find a flight that isn’t full (which means you may not have to sit next to someone).
- Bonus tip: Looking for an affordable spring break trip? Depart Tuesday and return Saturday for a way lower fare than flying Sat-Sat or Sat-Sunday. You will also avoid most of the travel rush and still get a good (cheaper) vacation in.
- Fly During Off-Peak Hours. The cheapest times of day to fly are early morning and late at night (especially redeyes). Next cheapest time of day is around lunch or dinner. Basically, if it is a time when most people don’t really want to fly, then it is cheaper.
- Fly with Connections. Book a flight with connections to save up to 40% off a direct flight fare. If you can connect through a major airport or the hub for your airline, even better.
- Use more than one airline or book separate connecting flights. We do this a lot when leaving the US on an international trip. It will almost always be cheaper for us to fly Southwest Airlines to Dallas, LAX, or New York and then connect to an international flight on another airline rather than flying that same airline the whole way.
- If you do this, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to collect your bags, check in with your new airline, and get through security. If you book connecting flights on the same airline, you can often link those reservations and not even have to recheck your luggage or go through security again. But double check to make sure. Note: If you book flights on more than one airline, make sure they are both using the same airport. Nothing is worse than going to catch your connecting flight and then realizing it’s at the airport across town.
- Follow your favorite airlines on social media for special deals. Do you always fly American? Is Southwest the airline that flies to all the places you want to go? Follow those airlines on Facebook and Twitter. Airlines often offer secret sales or special flash deals for their followers.
- Fly with points. Sign up for rewards programs with airlines you fly to earn points with every flight. Then pay attention to discover all the different ways you can earn points, both with the airlines and with their partners. Using points for our flights has meant we get to travel farther and for longer than if we had to pay cash for all those flights. It’s also made certain destinations more accessible to us from a cost standpoint. The airlines give them to you when you fly and there is no charge to join their rewards programs. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
- Get a rewards credit card. We earn most of our miles through rewards programs on our credit cards. You can get a more general card that allows you to spend your rewards points on several different airlines, such as Chase Sapphire Rewards. Or, if you’re a frequent flyer on a specific airline, get their signature rewards card.
Favorite Airfare Sites
Here are our favorite sites to search for flights. We consistently use these sites to book the cheapest airfares around.
Google Flights – Google Flights is great for comparing fares across multiple airlines and showing you peak travel days. I also love that you can use it if you’re flexible on dates and destinations. This is our go to site to compare fares and has provided a lot of great fares for us the past year.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner consistently comes up with cheap fares. It also gives you the ability to see flights and fares from anywhere in a general area (such as the US) to any other general area (such as an entire country). We often use it to find the cheapest place in the US to fly to someplace international. And sometimes we use it to find the cheapest place to go to from where we are currently.
Momondo – Momondo is a great site for finding lower fares and typically one of our first stops when looking for cheap airfares.
Jetabroad – This Australian based website is great for pricing out multi-stop trips.
Airfarewatchdog – This site finds some of the cheapest fares around, often lower than any other sites. They’re good at finding hidden fares that other search engines don’t find and they will send you alerts when the fare you are watching drops.
Vayama – This is another good site that often finds great low fares.
Kayak – Kayak is a multiple search engine that allows you to search several websites at once.
Airline Websites – Once you find the lowest fare on one of these other sites, be sure to go to that airline’s website to check the fare. Sometimes booking your tickets directly with the airline can be the cheapest way to go.
Bonus Tip: Not sure which seats to pick on a flight? Seat Guru can help you out. You can look up the plane you’ll be flying on based on the airline and flight number. From there, it shows you information on what seats are good and, more importantly, which seats have problems you may not want to deal with.
So that’s it! Some of our favorite sites and tips for booking airfares. So now that you’ve figured out where you want to go in 2015, get started on finding the best priced tickets.