Thinking about hopping a flight for the holidays? Well, as fuel prices have gone up and planes have gotten smaller, it’s getting harder to find great deals on plane tickets, unless you know a few tricks of the trade. Take a look at these seven ways to find the best holiday airfares that I shared earlier this week in this news segment on Let’s Talk Live here in Washington, DC.
Book Six to Eight Weeks in Advance: The rule of thumb is to buy airline tickets six weeks in advance for the best fares. Buy at eight weeks for holiday airfares. As you get closer to your preferred travel dates, the prices go up around $5 per day, so hop on those airfares.
Avoid Peak Days: The biggest factor that determines how much a ticket will cost is how full a flight is, so don’t even think about trying to fly the day before Thanksgiving with a return home on Sunday. You’ll never find a good deal. Fly Tuesday to Saturday, or even Thursday to Saturday, for the biggest savings. Also, check out Priceline’s Best Days to Fly calendar for key dates to travel for maximum savings.
Fly at Off-Peak Times During the Day: It’s cheapest to fly during the least busy times of the day. If you can, book early morning flights (5-7 am) and evening (after 8 pm) flights to save money. Always avoid peak business travel hours – 8-10 am and 5-7 pm – when more people want to fly, making it more expensive to travel at those times.
Book on Tuesdays or Wednesdays: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are great days to purchase airline tickets. Airlines usually start sales on Tuesdays that run for 24 to 48 hours, making Tuesday a great day to pick up discounted airfares. By Wednesday, the fare sales are still on, but sometimes other airlines have price-matched, so you may be able to get a lower price on a more preferred airline.
Sign Up for Airfare Alerts: Sign up for free fare alerts on a site like AirfareWatchdog.com. Simply enter your route and you’ll receive emails when ticket prices drop. You can also receive alerts for the best fares to any destination from your home airport, which is nice if you have more travel flexibility. Another great site to check out for alerts is CheapAir.com.
Get Hip to Social Media: More and more, airlines are using Twitter and Facebook to let their followers know about fare sales. For example, Jet Blue tweets out super-low, last-minute fares from their @JetBlueCheeps Twitter account every Tuesday. Virgin America and Spirit Airlines have also been tweeting out fare alerts on Twitter. Be sure to “like” these airlines on Facebook too since that’s another hot space they’ve been using to share low fare alerts.
Pay Attention to Fees: Before you book a flight, be sure you know about extra fees for checked bags, seat selection, priority boarding and in-flight food service. These fees can really add up quickly and that cheap ticket you found may not be so cheap after all.
What are your best tips for saving money on airfares? Let me know in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: Agl1431