Today’s airfare market is ultra competitive. There are so many flight booking websites and tools you can use to buy airline tickets, and most of them seem to be trying to beat the other to win your business. But, how do you know which one will give you the best price? What do you do if you don’t know how to book a flight at the lowest rate?
You follow these 5 pieces of advice for securing airfare that is cheaper than you’ll get with most other options.
1. Stay Open to Alternative Airports
Many major cities in the United States, and abroad, have more than one good airport you can fly in and out of.
Don’t think that you must book a flight to or from the most well-known or largest to find the best deal.
Sometimes, when you check all airports in a city, you’ll discover better fares at gateway airports.
A great example of this is the low prices that can be had choosing Newark instead of JFK or Long Beach over LAX.
When you book your flights, make sure you check the “all airports” option in a city if it’s available.
Don’t just type in a city code. Enter the name of the city you want to travel to and your booking engine will likely give you options for all nearby airports.
2. Optimize Your Computer
We’ve heard things about airfares showing up cheaper for some computer uses than others, and while we don’t have first-hand experience with this, it’s probably a good idea to check it out.
Orbitz CEO Barney Harford revealed that his site recommends different hotels to Mac users than those who use a PC (usually pricier ones).
We can assume that many airfare sites do the same thing.
How to book a flight for less may come down to borrowing a PC from someone you know and making sure cookies are cleared from the browser.
Sometimes, a browsers’ history can lead to higher fares because sites will remember old searches and inquiries at a time when prices were higher.
3. Check Multiple Websites
When you’re searching for your airline ticket, don’t go to just one booking website or even a single airfare consolidation site. Make sure you check at least 5 air ticketing websites.
Airline booking sites rely on different search algorithms to come up with the prices they show you.
These factors and more can affect the price that’s returned to you. Some airfare websites may only show you round-trip fares.
Others will let you break down your trip into separate legs that actually make for a cheaper total cost.
Consider setting up daily email alerts for many sites so you can see what’s available on any given day.
4. Search for Flights on Sunday or Monday Nights
Airlines often put out their best deals on late Sunday evenings and offer them through Monday morning.
Then, as Monday progresses they raise their fares slightly so the momentum of customer purchases can lead to higher profits.
When Monday night rolls around, the airlines typically put flights that didn’t sell well on discount again.
So, late Monday evening through Tuesday morning is another good time to search for inexpensive airfare.
During the rest of the week, you’ll likely find average to expensive airfare on most carriers.
Again, if you set up alerts on several airfare booking websites, you can be notified (sometimes at pre-arranged times) of fares that have just come out.
5. Avoid Flying on Friday or Sunday if You Can
In general, airlines hike up their prices for Friday and Sunday flights.
They know that these are the days that the majority of travelers fly, so they figure they can capitalize on this by charging more.
Leisure travelers often leave on Fridays, after the workweek, and return on Sundays before they have to start work again.
Business flyers are usually trying to get home on a Friday evening or jet off to where they need to be on Monday.
You’ll probably find the cheapest fares for flights on Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays.
There are many other answers to “How to book a flight for the best deal?” It often comes down to being flexible in terms of where and when you fly or book as well as what kind flying experience you want to have.
For instance, if you can go without a ton of in-flight entertainment options, you can score a great deal on a budget carrier.
If you know how to pack lightly, you can save money by flying with an airline that gives the best rates for travelers with 0 to just 1 checked bag.
It’s all about doing research ahead of time, sometimes a few hours of it, and then going for what seems best given your valiant efforts.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find the absolute lowest price offered anywhere at anytime. But, with a bit of planning you can surely find one of the lowest rates.