Airfare can be expensive, but there are also many bargains to be had if you are willing to do a little work and tolerate a bit of inconvenience. If you have some flexibility in your travel plans, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars. If you don’t mind doing a little work, here are 10 ways to get cheaper airfare.
1) Fly in the middle of the week
Flights are cheaper during the middle of the week, so try to book flights for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Don’t fly on Mondays and Fridays, which are more popular travel days.
2) Fly at night
The cheapest flights are usually between midnight and 1AM. Airlines don’t like flights with empty seats, so they offer cheaper fares to fill seats on these “redeye” flights.
3) Book early
Book your flight at least three weeks in advance, especially during the peak travel seasons. The more seats that are reserved, the higher the prices go. The first people to book seats get the lowest fares.
4) Be willing to lay over or switch planes
Connecting flights and layovers are less convenient and therefore less popular. Most people prefer direct flights, so these cost more. You can save money just by switching planes and spending a few hours in the terminal.
5) Search by date
Use date search tools to find out which travel dates provide the cheapest airfare. Many of the online travel sites such as Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia and Priceline have date search tools. You can save money just by departing or arriving on a certain date. Even a one or two day difference can result in substantial savings.
6) Look for nearby airports
Smaller, lesser-known airports often have lower fares than the major airports. You might end up paying a higher taxi fare, but your total travel costs will be lower than if you flew directly into or out of the larger airport.
7) Ask for an adjustment
If you bought your ticket early and later find a lower fare, call the airline and politely ask them to refund the difference in price. Most customer-oriented airlines will grant your request.
8) Compare prices on round-trip and one-way flights
Surprisingly, there are times when they cost the same, and in some cases the one-way flight is more expensive. Don’t assume the one-way flight is cheaper – compare all the options to find the better deal.
9) Sign up for alerts
Many travel sites let you sign up for alerts that will notify you of specials and good deals. Yapta.com tracks prices and alerts you when prices drop, and will even help you get a refund when the fare drops after you’ve paid.
10) See if you’re eligible for a discount
Most airlines give discounts to senior citizens and military members. Many civic organizations, travel clubs and alumni associations provide member discounts and special deals, so always ask what’s available.
Because airlines like to fill every seat, prices fluctuate depending on demand. If you are willing to give up perks such as flying at the most convenient times or into the biggest airports, you’ll be more likely to score a bargain. Do a little research, compare costs and adjust your travel plans, and you’ll find the cheapest airfare.