How to get the best airfare.
It can seem very daunting at times trying to find good airfare. Many times I have gotten excited to see a class offered that I have wanted to take, only to have to let it pass because the airfare was just too high.
I usually set a budget for what I will spend for a class (see my post, Getting the most out of your Classroom Experience) including food, hotel and airfare. Oftentimes it is hard to stay within my budget just because the airfare is so stinking high. However, there are some things you can do to find a cheaper flight. I warn you that it will take some time, but they have worked for me and hopefully will for you as well.
Favorite!!! The Flight Deal: THE go-to source for flight deals. The Twitter feed has been known to pump out new deals every few minutes during peak hours!
TheFlightDeal.com posts mistake fares that last for only a short time before airlines fix them.
Secret Flying: A nice, clean Twitter feed with only flight deals, and no clutter.
Airefarewatchdog: Great deals, with added commentary to make sense of what’s available.
The Points Guy: Flight deals, airline reviews and credit card advice so you can maximize your points.
JetBlue Airways: Every so often, JetBlue will have a flash sale that will blow your mind. They’re worth a follow!
Southwest Airlines: Two can play the flash sale game, and Southwest does it well.
How do I keep track of all this?!
If you’re the type of person who’s always on the lookout for cheap flights, then a Twitter list is probably the best way to keep track of the sources listed above. Once you’re following the individual sources on Twitter, you can organize them into one big list and watch it throughout the day as deals spring up.
We’ve done the hard work for you and embedded our “Cheap Flights” Twitter list below — feel free to subscribe to it, and bargain hunt your heart out!
1. Compare flights on several of the comparison type sites. You can search for tickets on multiple departure and arrival days to see what day has the best deal. Or you can pull up a calendar of the lowest fares around a certain date. Flights pull prices from multiple airlines for easier comparison.
• Google Flights https://www.google.com/flights
• Airline Watchdog http://www.airfarewatchdog.com
• Orbitz http://www.orbitz.com
Favorite! ITA Matrix is a no-frills way to find the cheapest-possible flight thanks to its handy calendar.
All you have to do is search your destination and preferred length of stay and click on "See calendar of lowest fares." The flexible search option lets travelers see what flying on each day of the week would cost them.
One thing to note… some airlines will price match. I don’t know the specifics of all of them, but I do for Delta since I mostly fly with them. If purchasing your tickets through their website and you find the same flight for more than $10 less than your flight, they will not only match the price, but they will give you a $100 credit towards a future flight.
2. Buy your tickets on the right day. I have found there to be much debate on when exactly is the right day. I have noticed in my area that prices drop on the weekends. “experts” have said that Tuesday afternoons are the best. You will have to do your own research to figure out which is better for you.
3. Try to purchase tickets 30 days in advance. Sometimes holding off for the best deal will make you lose out on what already was the best deal. Of course you can still get some really great last minute fares, but it is kind of a gambling game you are playing.
4. Cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. The early bird flights are typically cheaper as are multiple stop flights. This can and does change!
5. Clear your cookies! I don’t know this for a fact, but I am 96.7% sure that sites are storing your information so when you come back later to check fares again, the price is the same if not higher. It isn’t just airlines doing this. Have you ever gone back to a site only to get a pop-up saying “Welcome back Kathy! Your dental floss is still waiting in your cart.”?
6. Get a credit card that will reward you for flying. Most of us have a credit card anyway, so you may as well have one that earns you points for reduced and free travel. Some will not only reward you when flying, but also when you rent a car, stay at a hotel and eat out.
7. SURPRISE! If you like surprises you may want to look into booking a flight through Hotwire or Priceline. With Hotwire, when you search for airfare the first thing listed will be a Hot Rate Flight . This is a “Get the flight now and flight details after booking.” Option. Although it is the cheapest flight, it is a special fare with restrictions and the Airline and flight time are not revealed until after purchase.
The Priceline version is their Name Your Own Price feature. For this you put in the destination, dates, and it will also ask a few other questions. You now bid on what you are willing to pay for your flight. I have had a LOT of great fares using this, and not just to their “up to 40% off” either.
I first go to a site and type in my info to find out what the average flight is at the moment. With this information I then will go to Name Your Own Price and make an offer for 50% lower than what is listed. If they accept my offer, your credit card is charged immediately and you get a notice via email with your itinerary. If they reject your offer, a screen pops up with a counter offer. You can choose to accept the offer or you can wait 24 hours and make another bid. Just remember that you will not know until after your bid is accepted which airline you get or what time you fly out.