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Discount Air Flights – Tips for the Savy Traveler!
Whether it’s for the holidays, spring break or summer vacation, it’s never too early to start planning your next trip. That includes scoping out airline tickets. As a big fan of travel myself, I know that the prices on some tickets is enough to make you seriously consider a stay-cation. But let me reassure you that I’ve never paid an outrageous price for airline tickets. That’s because I wait for just the right time to buy. And I’m about to let you in on the secret to saving big.
At the end of the day, saving money is nice, but remember that vacations are about relaxing. Don’t get so caught up in saving money that you stress yourself out. In the end, you’ll be happier if you plan your trip early, get a good fare, and get to the airport a little bit early to avoid last-minute rushes and stresses in the security line!
We’ve all experienced the tiresome, repeated searching when trying to book the cheapest possible flights to any given destination. With endless search engines and continually fluctuating prices, the approach to frugal flight booking is overwhelming. Below are some key tips that will save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next flight.
While many theories exist around booking specifically on a Tuesday to save money, the reality is there is no consistent truth to exactly which days are cheapest to fly. Most of the time it is cheaper to leave on a weekday, though this isn’t always the case. Your best strategy is to get a quick visual of prices for a whole month to see what days are cheapest for your specific route.
There are a ton of theories out there about the best day to buy airline tickets. Some people say Tuesday at 3 p.m., some say 1 a.m. Wednesday, and some people say the weekend.
First, let me explain why so many folks think that Tuesday is the best day to buy cheap airline tickets. That’s because airlines often announce deals on Monday evenings. By Tuesday at noon, other airlines are scrambling to match those deals. So Tuesday afternoons are the best time to hunt for reduced airfare.
We suggest you wait until 1 a.m. on Wednesday to snag the deals that didn’t get taken on Tuesday. But we also recommend you call the airline and talk to a ticket agent in person, so this one is for the most dedicated money-savers.
Texas A&M University, however, crunched the numbers and found that weekends are actually the best time to book airline tickets. That’s because airlines are more likely to lower their fares on Saturday and Sunday to attract leisure travelers. Their study found that tickets purchased on the weekend were historically an average of 5% cheaper than similar tickets purchased during the week. Of course, that was only to places with mixed business and leisure settings. Leisure-only destinations, like Las Vegas, don’t change much through the week.
But an even newer study from The Wall Street Journal shows that most people can save an average of $60 by purchasing their tickets on Sundays instead of Tuesdays. The study also showed a significant increase of ticket prices on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
So, what should you do? If you see one airline offering a deal on Monday, make plans to buy your tickets on Tuesday. If there are no deals going on, buy on the weekend. Of course, that’s not the only bit of money-saving wisdom I have to offer. The day you fly can also make a big difference.
The Best Day To Fly
As we noted above, most studies show that flying on Tuesdays is still the best day to fly for less. Fewer people travel on Tuesdays, and less demand means a better deal for you. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive.
The time of day you travel is also important. No one wants to fly at 4 a.m., but you can shave off big bucks from your ticket price if you do. The first flight of the day, red-eye flights or any flight that coincides with lunchtime or dinner are the best times to fly if you want to pay less.
Using Budget Airlines
Budget airlines offer significantly cheaper tickets than their full-service counterparts. But this comes with compromises such as less leg room and no “free” food/drink on-board (which by the way, is normally covered in your higher-priced ticket with full-service airlines).
But First… A NOTE ON BOOKING BUDGET AIRLINES. Always read the fine print and do the following:
- Ensure you’ve booked & paid for your luggage allowance.
- Adhere to restrictions on weight, height, and # of bags allowed.
- Remember, if you want to book the cheapest flight possible be adaptable, do your research, and know the budget airline’s requirements & restrictions.
- Below is a List of Budget Airlines that operate in the United States and Canada:
Can Jet (New)
New Leaf Travel (New)
Here are some key tips that will save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next discount air flights:
- Keep your searches top secret.
- Use the best flight search engines.
- Identify the cheapest day to fly out.
- Befriend budget airlines.
- Book long-haul flights yourself for less.
Find the cheapest place to fly.
If you’re flying somewhere that involves a transfer, consider that it may be cheaper to book these two legs separately on your own by adding another destination to your trip. It should go without saying that in doing this, you should not book tight layovers. I repeat: do not book layovers that are hours apart! This approach is for those who want to create an additional destination of a few days or more, before catching their next flight.
First, do your research: are there budget airlines unique to the country you’re flying out of and where you’re headed to.
You can even book your own multi-day layovers, essentially allowing you to see 2 destinations for the price of 1. Rather than spend a day sitting in the airport, you can spend multiple days exploring the city you are laying over in.
Discount Air Flights – Use a travel agent
Travel agents have special undercut rates that are unaccessible to the public, although this doesn’t always ensure they can provide the best price. It is wise to do your own research first, find the discount air flights you want, and present that information to them to see if they can match or beat it. This would be especially beneficial for long-haul flights, where even slight savings could equate to a few hundred dollars. They can also help you extend your layovers so you can enjoy a few days in a different city, rather than just sitting in the airport.
Don’t forget about local airlines
While the best known search engines are great, they do not always include small airlines, especially in less popularly booked routes and/or in remote regions. If you’re flying somewhere obscure, Google search and ask around if there exists a local airline.
When you do find small airlines, even if they are listed in a search engine results, it often pays to check the company site which may reveal exclusive online offers not found in a regular search engine.
Do you know when and where you’re going, don’t wait to book
Rarely ever do airline tickets get cheaper as your departure date approaches, especially if you need to fly on a certain date. Budget airlines typically offer low rates as a baseline price, and as these tickets sell, the remaining ones increase in cost. This is very typical in Europe and Australia. If you know when and where you’re going, don’t wait on an unknown sale. More often than not, your biggest savings come from booking far ahead when you can.
Check if it’s cheaper to pay in other currencies
Before booking a discount air flights, consider if the rate will be cheaper if paid in another currency. Often budget airlines will make you pay in the currency of the country you’re departing from, but this isn’t always the case. An important note when doing this: make sure you’re using a credit card that is free of foreign-transaction fees, otherwise your attempts to save money doing this will be lost!
Search for airline error fares
Airlines sometimes make mistakes when posting their fares, leading to seriously discounted flights. This can happen for various reasons – currency conversion mishaps, technical glitches, or human error. If you’re in the know-how on where to find airline error fares, you can save yourself some serious bucks on a ticket.
Consider hidden city ticketing
Travelers long ago discovered a trick known now as “hidden city” flights. In a nutshell, sometimes a flight that connects in a city you want to go to is cheaper than flying directly to it. So instead, you book that cheap flight which connects in your desired city and hop off there, not taking the ongoing connection. It should go without saying this is risky for many reasons. Here are some factors to consider:
- If your luggage is checked, it may go on to the final destination. For this reason, with hidden city ticketing it’s best to have carry-on luggage only.
- You may not be allowed off the plane (if the same plane is continuing onward to its final destination).
- Airlines may detect that you did not take your connection. The consequences of this are hard to say, especially since people miss flights all the time.
Use frequent flyer miles (flight points) when possible
If you’ve inadvertently forgot about those frequent flyer miles or Air Miles points you’ve been racking up for years, now’s the time to use them! For Canadians using Air Miles, the best bang for your buck is to use your points for in-country travel, as this uses the least amount of points for the distance, though if you are swimming in points (company credit cards can be a goldmine for this), this is a good way to save serious bucks.
Always Be Flexible
Try to be as flexible as possible. You’re more likely to find discount air flights by flying at unsociable times. “You’ll often find cheaper fares on flights scheduled for lighter periods, such as early morning, red-eye flights or flights departing on a Saturday afternoon or evening.
Look to fly when business travelers aren’t for cheap upgrades
The days of the free upgrade are long gone, but if you fancy splashing out, bear in mind that while ticket prices for economy seats often rocket during holidays and weekends, the reverse can be said for premium seats, according to Zach Honig. “Expect to find cheap business class fares during light business travel periods, such as during the summer or Christmas,” he says. But you can always still try your luck at bagging that free upgrade – you might just get lucky.
Make friends with your airline
Nobody likes spam but consider signing up for airline newsletters – you’ll be the first to hear about sales. You’ll also find out exactly when tickets for new routes go on sale, allowing you to nab the bargains before anyone else. Airlines are also increasingly keen on improving their social media presence, so by signing up to their Facebook group or subscribing to their Twitter feed, you’ll often be the first to hear about great deals. SIGN UP TODAY!