As a travel consultant, I cannot tell you how often I’m asked if I know any secrets to booking the best flights and getting the best airfares. Don’t I wish!?!
Sure, there are tips and there is expert advice, but to say that you can guarantee the best airfare deal is folly. The airline industry is extremely volatile. By the time you research an airfare, discuss it with your travel partner or client, and make a decision, it has probably changed…several times!
Whether you go direct to the source by calling or going on the websites of the airlines or the numerous consolidators (e.g. OrbitZ, Expedia, and Travelocity) or sites that compare and offer fares from multiple sites (e.g. Kayak), searching for and comparing fares and itineraries can be time consuming, confusing and frustrating.
There’s no magic or secret, but there are some recommendations:
When You Buy:
- Purchase tickets on Monday or Tuesday, around noon PST or midday EST. Airlines typically announce sales on Monday nights and other airlines match them on Tuesday morning. So, during this time period, typically the greatest number of sale tickets are available.
When You Fly:
- Avoid holidays and typical vacation times as much as possible.
- Try to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
Now, the Fun Part:
- Write down your “ideal”/preferred itinerary: Include destination, dates, departure and arrival times, departure and arrival airports, etc. If you have favorites, write that all down, too. Start checking as early as possible, find itineraries/fares that fit your preferences best and track them.
- Have a Plan B and C for above. Be as flexible as possible.
- Look at and review travel itinerary options VERY, VERY carefully including the number of connections, the connecting airports, and length of layovers. Maybe that fare is a few dollars cheaper but do you really want to make 4 connections or get up at 3 a.m. to make the flight? What sounds good on paper may not be so great in reality.
- When you think you’ve found the best deal that works for you, book it and don’t look back!
How do you go about booking your flights? Do you have any tricks or techniques that have worked for you?
Reference: Condé Nast Traveler
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