6 Tips for Booking the Cheapest Flight Possible
The common misconception amongst people who don’t give in to their wanderlust is that traveling is too expensive. While in some cases this is an accurate assumption, there are resources available to counterbalance the expenses, making travel affordable—even cheap.
Next time you need a vacation, but catch yourself agonizing over the price, these budget “travel hacks” can help unleash your inner tourist.
If you’re willing to forego amenities like complimentary food and beverage service, in-flight Internet access or additional space for your legs, book with a budget airline, which is more cost-effective than a major conglomerate. In the United States, these options include Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant, Jet Blue, Sun Country, Virgin America and Spirit. In Europe, consider airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet, and in Australasia, Jetstar and Tigerair.
Before booking, browse all your options with a search engine like Webjet. Then, always check for hidden fees pertaining to luggage, children’s pricing and more. These airlines are usually cheaper for a reason, making up extra money on the details you miss.
Travel During the Off-Seasons
Prior to finalizing your trip itinerary, be mindful of the forecasted trends in whichever destination you plan on visiting. For example, a European flight booked during the peak season of April through October is significantly more expensive than November through March.
Holidays and school vacations are also high-priced times of year, so if your schedule permits, plan travel outside of these specific dates. Although jetting to Spain in December may require a jacket rather than a swimsuit, the discount airfare might offset sightseeing excursions you otherwise couldn’t afford.
Subscribe to Electronic Alerts
Numerous travel websites can send weekly updates to your inbox or mobile device that keep you abreast of the latest travel markdowns across multiple booking agencies—for no cost at all.
Sign up to a few of the most relevant companies and let the deals come to you. Flexibility in destination choices will allow you to book on price and perhaps discover amazing places you may not have considered otherwise.
Compare and contrast prices
In a recent airfare survey of 2,000 people, 28 percent of respondents found the best flight prices on search engines, while 27 percent referenced travel sites, and 20 percent said airline websites. However, that doesn’t mean the first website you find will offer the best price.
Booking sites that connect various airlines makes that easy for you. You can search for all available flights from a wide range of carriers, and compare them to find the right balance of convenience and cost. It’s much easier than trawling the web with multiple tabs open to get the right price!
Book in Advance If Possible.
While some people tend to assume that booking last-minute can result in a significant price reduction, the opposite case is generally true. As flights near their maximum passenger load, the remaining tickets become more expensive. This scenario reflects basic supply and demand principles—the less occupancy room, the higher amount charged.
According to recent research, the ideal timeframe for making your travel arrangements is about seven weeks beforehand on domestic flights and between 11–12 weeks beforehand on international flights. Of course, it is possible to find last-minute deals, but they are far from guaranteed.
Check Flexible Date Options.
Whenever possible, consider adapting your itinerary to correspond with the cheapest flights available. Sometimes, a day’s difference in timing will uncover the bargain of the year
In addition, weekdays are often cheaper than weekends—particularly both Tuesday and Wednesday—so scheduling your flight then could save a decent chunk on a round-trip.
Go ahead, book yourself that much-needed trip to get away from work and life. Sign up for emails, stay flexible, and book just far enough in advance to get the cheapest flight possible.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has written for Tripping.com, Lifehack.org Bonappetour and more. When she’s not writing she’s finding her next adventure, in the South West and around the world. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.