Booking flights has become more of an art form than an agenda item for many people. It seems that everyone has their own secret strategy on how they can score the best deal. As November and December hit, this discussion amplifies as family and friends seem to cover more and more ground across multiple states, making the holidays a mayhem of flights here and train rides there.
Rather than crossing your fingers hoping that Jet Blue finally has a direct route to your native small town, these tried-and-true techniques will not only save you a pretty penny, but get you to the people you love most as quickly as possible.
Studies have proven that the best time to book a domestic flight is 42-54 days before take-off. Keep in mind, this has been the data for most flights, meaning not all flights will guarantee this as the lowest cost.
If you can’t hit 54 days exactly, try to book 112 to 21 days before your trip, what the pros call the “prime booking window”. And you procrastinators out there, waiting until the last minute does not mean airlines will lower prices to fill seats. In fact, prices will be just as high or higher a few days before a flight takes off.
Kayak often does the comparing for you, but I suggest going to individual airline websites to scope out the most up-to-date flight prices. While WOW and Spirit airlines have notoriously cheap airfare, be sure to check others who might have scored a flight route with the city you’re looking for.
Further, simply changing a midday flight to an early morning one can save you hundreds. While getting up at 4am may not sound appealing, conventionally less convenient times usually offer you a pay cut.
The cheapest days to fly our Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays while Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive. Further, Tuesdays at 3pm are noted as being the cheapest time to purchase tickets.
However, others argue that 1am Wednesday mornings are the best time to buy since all the unsold discount tickets from Tuesday will flood back into the system. As noted above, if you take an early morning flight (see above), you’ll most likely still have the majority of the day in your destination.
The easiest way to get current flight info is to sign up for alerts with your preferred travel dates and destinations. Skyscanner and Hopper are awesome choices that allow you to tailor results to your specific needs.
Along with booking in advance, narrow your searches to larger airports close to your destination. Bigger airports have more flights, thus a lower cost. The extra car travel time to home might be worth it. If you’re traveling with others, search for one ticket at a time. Bundling tickets can cause prices to soar.