Flying is the easiest and fastest way to travel. It’s actually one of the marvels of modern technology, and unfortunately a lot of people take this for granted. New York to Tokyo in under 12 hours? How some people aren’t stoked by this is beyond me. Last year close to 3 billion people flew safely on 37.5 million flights, while there were only six crashes and 75 accidents overall. In fact, 2012 was the safest year to fly in history. There’s only one big disadvantage to flying, at least in my book: the price. To a lot of people, flying is expensive, but it doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, flying can be the cheapest way to travel, if you know what you’re doing. What do you think about booking a flight from London to Rome and back for under 100 euros? Traveling for thousands of miles for less than 50 euros need not be a dream – it’s a sound reality. Follow this post while I outline five simple, yet effective tips I regularly use to book a flight on the cheap.
1. Check fares early and often
If you’re going to book a flight for next week, this will set you loads of money back. Book two weeks in advance and expect your fare to be a lot cheaper. The best thing you can do is to check your fare as early as you can, preferably from the moment you’re sure of your travel destination and date.
2. Buy at the right time
Booking the earliest possibly doesn’t guarantee you the cheapest fare though. Actually at times it can seem like playing the stockmarket – sometimes it’s high, sometimes it’s low. And when you find a fare you like, be ready to pull the trigger since the same fare may not be around for very long. I know it sounds crazy but the airlines use very sophisticated computer systems to adjust fares literally in real-time. For domestic flights 49 days (about 7 weeks in advance) was, on average, the optimal time to buy plane tickets. You’ll likely pay a big premium for booking too late (within 14 days), or for booking too early (more than 5 months in advance).
3. Use the “mix and match” option
You don’t have to use the same airline for your there and back flight. For instance, it might be cheaper (often the case) to book your return trip with a different airline, since pricing varies so much on a daily basis. Online booking aggregators often offer what’s called a “mix and match” option which shows you the optimal fares you can choose from between one airline going out and another airline coming back.
4. Sign-up for flight fare alerts
To help keep an eye on fare trends, sign-up to the all the airline newsletters that fly from your local airports. You’ll get notified more quickly when a sale starts and get a head start when only a limited number of seats are available. Acting quickly when a fare sale starts can save you a lot of money.
5. Route is everything
Say you want to book something like flights San Francisco Paris or flights Miami Paris. You might find it very surprising to find that it will be cheaper to fly San Francisco-Rome-Paris or Miami-Moscow-Paris then the direct flight, even though you might travel an another extra 1,000 miles for instance. Again, airlines are hectic in their pricing, and longer route composed of more flights might be a lot cheaper and convenient for you than the direct flight.
Bonus: Buy now!
If you see a deal, don’t wait. Most of the time this tactic will back-fire and the next day you’ll see your ticket getting more expensive. If it sounds like a deal, looks like deal, feels like a deal, then it’s definitely a deal. Don’t wait, just book it!
-book 60-90 days in advance.
-most expensive day to travel: Sunday.
-cheapest day to fly: Tuesday.
-most expensive months: August and October
-avoid flying during holidays or tourist mid-season
-check for multiple flights
-try to book in the evening.