We’re all looking to score that cheap flight, but airline flights are notoriously expensive and hard to find at discount. There are a lot of myths floating around about how to get airline deals, but a lot of them are just that: myth. Here’s what’s not a myth.
- It’s not cheaper to buy on Tuesdays, but dates are important. For some reason, the myth that Tuesday is a cheaper day to buy a flight persists. There’s also no evidence that you’ll grab a cheaper airline flight because you booked a certain number of days out. What is true is that the more flexible you are, the more likely you are to get a deal. Prices always depend on the day of the week, the time of day, and holiday schedules. Think about it: no one likes getting up early and no one like late night flights. Those are cheaper because they’re harder to fill, so if you’re willing to fly them you’re golden. If you really want to visit China, don’t even think about getting a deal over Spring Festival holiday. That’s when every Chinese person living abroad is trying to get home, every airline is swamped, and there are no deals to be had to Beijing for love or money. Most people want to fly between Friday and Monday, so flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper. You can save a lot of money just by being flexible.
- Browsing incognito doesn’t help, but having flexible destinations might. Airline deals aren’t that different from location to location when you’re booking, but they can be radically different if you’re willing to go somewhere different. If you demand to go to only one location, you may or may not find cheap airline flights. If you’re willing to try the road less traveled, that could make all the difference.
- Gird up your loins and accept some connections. If you’re willing to spend the night in an airport somewhere on the way to your final destination, you could shave hundreds of dollars off your ticket. In fact, this could be the difference between being able to afford a flight or not. Flying direct is almost always the most expensive option, and, to be honest, sometimes we have to do that. But especially if you’re flying internationally, see if you can’t get an airline flight with some layovers. Not only might you save serious coin, but you might also get a chance to see the world.
- Be smart about budget carriers. Budget carriers are no different from the big guys: they’re all in it to make money. You’re kidding yourself if you think any different. The difference is that budget carriers have shaved amenities, comforts, and services to a bare minimum in order to get similar profit margins off lower priced tickets for you. These can be a really great option, particularly if you’re flying in Asia or Europe where government subsidies allow some budget airlines to operate at even lower costs; but you have to be savvy about the fees.
If you’re flying internationally and need to take a carry-on and two checked bags, want to have entertainment options for the long-haul flight, and also need to eat, you might not save nearly what you think you’re saving after you pay a separate fee for all those things. You might even have to pay for using a credit car, for printing a boarding pass, and for a dozen other little things you always thought are just part of what every airline does.
- Don’t forget to sign up for every frequent airline program. It can’t hurt, and it might just get you a free flight at some point. If you know how to watch for special offers and use the car rental or retail vendors that an airline partners with, your miles can rack up fast. If someone offers a travel reward card and you have a big purchase coming up anyway, get one and put it towards your miles.
Most people aren’t going to be able to game the system, but you can work the system. Be flexible, make frequent flyer programs work for you, and you might just get the airline flight of your dreams.