10 easy steps to find the best airfares
Everyone is shocked when they take a peek at airfares today. Airfares that used to be $300RT are now $700RT. Google is reporting that from April to August of this year, searches for “cheapest airline tickets” surged more than 240%. People are looking for ways to save money when they buy airline tickets for the holidays. I decided I would provide you with my list of 10 easy steps I recommend you take to find the perfect balance of price and comfort.
Step 1 – Stay away from the weekends (Friday and Sunday) to find the cheapest days to fly – Flying in the middle of the week, domestically, is often as much as 20% cheaper than flying on the weekends. Historically business travelers flew to their business meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays and returned home on Thursdays. Fridays and Sunday travel always found planes full and higher prices (especially Sundays). Saturdays are my favorite days to fly as planes are often empty.
Step 2 – Buy your tickets at least 21 days in advance to get the best price for domestic tickets – Generally speaking buying your tickets at least three weeks in advance and no more than 60 days in advance will provide you with some of the best airfares.
Step 3 – Save 20% or more by taking a connecting flight (instead of a non-stop flight) – Adding a connecting flight through an airline hub can save you a lot of cash. Generally speaking the fewer the connections the higher the price. If you are a business traveler I recommend taking non-stop flights even though they cost more as there is less risk of dealing with cancelled flights and missed connections. Plus they take almost half the time as connecting flights. If time is not of the essence then you can save a bundle by taking connecting flights. CLICK HERE to read more.
Step 4 – Don’t worry about what day you purchase your tickets – You don’t save any money buying your airline tickets on a certain day of the week – There is an old airline myth that buying your tickets on a Tuesday got you the best airfare. A recent study by Google found that the old myth just ain’t so. CLICK HERE to read more about the Google study.
Step 5 – No Saturday night stay is now required to find the lowest fares – For decades the airlines used to price airfares so that they charged business travelers the highest prices for traveling in the middle of the week. In their fare rules, they separated business travel from leisure travel simply by offering the lowest priced tickets for those who could stay over a Saturday night before their return flight. When Southwest Airlines expanded across the country they did not have a Saturday night rule and the other airlines were forced to delete the Saturday night stay requirement. Now you don’t need to stay over a Saturday night to get the lowest prices.
Step 6 – Traveling mid-day is the sweet spot to avoid crowds – Many people try to maximize their vacations by leaving on the earliest flights of the day and returning on the last flights of the day. This leaves a great window for traveling about 1 hour before and after lunch where the airports aren’t as busy and the planes don’t seem as full.
Step 7 – Book your Christmas and Thanksgiving flights before Labor Day to lock in pricing – Supply and demand are the operative words for finding the lowest-priced airline tickets during the holidays. Simply put, as flights fill up prices go up. I am traveling to Ft. Lauderdale between Christmas and New Year’s. During normal months of the year that is a $350 RT ticket. During the holidays the price is $1100 a ticket. This is how the airlines make hay when the sun is shining.
Step 8 – Buy tickets to Europe by Valentine’s Day when the airlines historically lower the prices – There is often a great window to buy your summer European tickets during the months of January and February. The airlines want to fill up their flights and give the best deals to people willing to lock in tickets early in the year.
Step 9 – If you want to find the best prices to Mexico or the Caribbean travel between Labor Day and January 10 – This is the season you can find a lot of half-priced flights and hotels. The colder it gets in the U.S. the higher the prices get at sun and fun destinations. Also when kids are in school the prices drop.
Step 10 – Rediscover the magic of a professional travel advisor – A great travel advisor can save you time, money, and also help you out of a mess when everything goes wrong, like cancelled or delayed flights, schedule changes, labor strikes, sickness, losing passports, and a host of other challenges that can take your dream vacation and turn it into a nightmare. We would be honored to be your travel coach and advisor.