With airlines increasing fares and adding on fees for everything from in-flight meals to extra baggage, finding the cheapest airfare can seem like a daunting task. Even as costs continue to rise, it is possible to find relatively inexpensive airfare by keeping a few things in mind.
First, remember that airline prices vary by the time of the year, day of the week, and upcoming holidays and events. It is always cheaper to fly on a weekday, especially Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, than on a weekend. Flights scheduled early in the morning or late at night are less expensive because fewer people want to travel in the middle of the night. Keeping that in mind, be flexible in the time and date of your flight. Waiting a single day can save you hundreds of dollars in the cost of your ticket.
Many people don’t realize that most low-cost carriers, or LCCs, often fly to smaller, secondary airports rather than major ones. For example, JetBlue flies to Long Beach instead of LAX. Smaller airports chair airlines lesser landing fees, which results in cheaper tickets for passengers. There are over twenty LCCs in the United States, and dozens more. If you are flying in Europe or Asia, budget airlines such as Air Asia are great options. Sometimes, these low-cost airlines will even offer no-fare tickets. Passengers simply pay the tax, or around $40.
Cheap travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz are extremely popular, and most people use these sites or similar ones to search for airline tickets. What most people don’t know, though, is that these sites are owned by or work closely in partnership with the major airline companies. Sites like these don’t offer unbiased prices. They often don’t show prices for budget airlines, either, because budget airlines don’t pay the booking commission charged by those websites.
A good idea is to use flight search engines that aren’t affiliated with any airlines and make their money by advertising, not booking commissions. Taking advantage of an airline’s frequent flier program can save you hundreds of dollars. Even if you don’t fly very often, signing up for a rewards program is free, and there are many ways to earn points other than flying. Shopping at stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target can earn you 2 to 4 miles for each dollar you spend.
There are many things you can do to avoid paying outrageous prices for airfare. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is to shop around and shop smart! Don’t book your flight until you have searched on several travel websites and considered alternative times and days.