How to Get the Best Deal on Airfare

Photo Credit: Ian Halsey on Flickr CC LIc.

Airfare is constantly fluctuating…influenced of course by the law of Supply and Demand. Obviously, expense, distance, fuel, etc…are a part of the formula, too 🙂 but rates fluctuate based on how many want that seat (demand) and how many seats are still unsold (supply). Other than incentives to frequent flyers, there really aren’t any discounts to be found….but there are a few things you can do to flush out the best fare.

  1. Rule of Thumb:   The earlier you purchase, the lower the fare….up to a point.   Of course, that requires you to be VERY certain of your travel plans as these tickets (at least the lower priced ones) are non-refundable and changing dates/times after your purchase will incur a hefty fee.
  2. Fly Mid-Week if Possible:  Flights on weekends (Fri to Mon.) are typically pricier than flights Tues-Thurs. If possible, plan your vacations to start and end  mid-week.  Search the airline websites

    Photo Credit: Dafne Cholet CC Lic.

    with flexible dates (+/- 1-3 days) if your vacation plans will allow.

  3. Best Day of the Week to Book Airfare:  Airlines often release sales early in the week, (Mondays) and by Tuesday other airlines are rushing to compete and you can find some good bargains. These cheaper seats are limited, so  be ready to book right then to not miss them.
  4. THE SINGLE BEST TIP HERE: DON’T pay baggage fees!  Most of the major airlines offer 1 free checked bag/person when the ticket(s) are purchased using their credit card.  You can apply for the card right before making your airline ticket purchase…then use that card to pay for the ticket(s). The annual fee is typically waived for the first year (Read the fine print) and THOSE are the companies we like to do business with.  At the end of the year, we call to cancel the card. We haven’t paid baggage fees OR annual credit card fees in quite a few years.
  5. Do The Math:  If you ARE going to pay the baggage fees, find out what they are, then figure the TOTAL COST for your trip (ticket and bags)  Some charge $25/bag…others charge $35 for the 2nd bag. Southwest gives passengers 2 free checked bags. JetBlue gives 1 free bag and charges for the 2nd.
  6. Check Surrounding Airports Near Your Destination:  Several years ago, we were going to Cape Cod. In checking flights, I found that the flight to Providence R.I. was significantly less expensive than flying into Boston.  We were headed to the base of the Cape, so we were going to have to drive any hour after the flight anyway.  The drive from Providence was 10 mi. further than driving from Boston.  We drove the extra 10 miles at a significant savings.  Another example:  When heading to the Florida Keys, we found flights to Ft. Lauderdale were HALF the price of flights to Miami. Ft. Lauderdale is approx. 20 miles further north…We drove an extra 20 miles/40 min. and saved over $400!!   Why does this happen?  If an airport is dominated by one or two major airlines, they set the prices and drive out low-cost competitors.  Competition is what keeps prices low,
  7. Always Check with the Airline Directly:  Comparing prices from multiple airlines is easiest on one of the travel brokers or consolidators (Travelocity, Kayak, etc…) however, I don’t typically book with them.  Once I find the best fare, I go to that airline’s website and book there. There have been times when I’ve found significantly cheaper rates there.  One time it amounted to significant savings.  I had found a good fare on a consolidator, then just on a whim, checked the airline website.  I found tickets for $107 pp. (HALF the price!!!)  I’d never seen a rate like that – nor have I since!!  Now, this was in the middle of the night…which might have contributed to the low rate too.  🙂  But I learned from that ..always go to the airline website…and since I’m a night-owl, I do this in the middle of the night.  It works!!
  8. A Word About Scams:  The one pitfall to making your own plans are the scams that are out there.  Folks, NOTHING in life is free!!!   Any offer that claims to give you free Southwest airline tickets is a scam.  Any offer that claims to give you 7 nights free in a condo is a scam.  Now, the Timeshare presentations aren’t scams…they’re NOT giving you anything free.  They’re “buying” your time.  (You sit and listen; they ‘pay’ you for it.)  But if you’re offered something “free”….and nothing is required of you, you can be assured…it’s a scam!!!  Deal with reputable travel brokers or consolidators, airlines, rental car companies, REAL hotels (mom-n-pop businesses are fine… need to be afraid of them).  Just deal with “real” people and do your research, and you’ll be fine….and if you get that “funny feeling”, back away.

2 thoughts on “How to Get the Best Deal on Airfare

  1. Thank you for the incentive I needed to plan a family vacation this year.

    I’ve subscribed and am looking forward to more information.


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