Everyone loves deals, and travelers really love saving money on airfare. Flight reservations can eat up a lot of your travel budget, so any savings you manage to pocket on airline reservations can feel like money well-earned. The next time you’re booking domestic flights for yourself and/or your family, keep in mind a few tips on how to save on airfare:
- Shop around. Search online for meta-comparison websites, visit individual airline sites, and track prices over the course of a week or two to look for trends. Be sure to compare round-trip versus one-way fares; sometimes two one-way tickets can cost less than a round-trip ticket.
- Reserve your seats at least three weeks before departure. The research is mixed on the best time to make non-holiday flight reservations: Some say it’s exactly 49 days in advance; others say six weeks in advance; still others claim the “magic window” is 18 to 28 days before your travel date. Start looking three to four months ahead of time, use online tools to gauge trends, and pounce when you see an attractive price.
- Book flights on Tuesdays or over the weekend. Common wisdom is that Tuesday is the best day to make reservations, because airlines like to announce sales on Monday nights, and other airlines will try to mirror these price drops by the next morning. However, a recent study from Texas A&M found that, on average, weekend bookings to non-vacation destinations resulted in 5% savings on flights compared to weekday reservations.
- Fly mid-week. The cheapest flights generally depart on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in good part because people prefer to fly on or close to the weekend; lower demand leads to lower prices.
- Take an early-bird flight. Departing at 6 a.m. can save you hundreds of dollars compared to a 10 a.m. flight. It also decreases your odds of facing a flight delay, and depending on your destination, you won’t spend the entire day traveling.
- Follow airlines online. Good deals can pop up at a moment’s notice; by following airlines on Twitter and signing up for alerts, you’ll stay up-to-date on the latest savings offers.
- Stay flexible. The ability to switch flight dates or use alternative airports can often result in considerable savings on your flight.
- Check fares after you book. Should the price of your flight drops within 24 hours of your booking, airline regulations let you cancel your reservation without penalty. If the fare drops after the 24-hour window, call the airline or your travel agent anyway to see if you can pay the lower price; sometimes they’ll agree, and it never hurts to ask.
When you want to save on airfare, check out Travel Plus, where you can earn 5% cash back on plane reservations you make through the program (and enjoy cash-back rebates on a wide range of airport and in-flight services). If you have additional tips on how to save on airfare, please share them in the Comments section. Happy contrails!