- Fly on a holiday. Just as the most expensive fares tend to be on the days or weekends on either side of a holiday, some of the least expensive are on the holiday itself, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving.
- Do your fare research midweek, late at night. This tends to be the time when you’ll find the cheapest fares.
- Try flying on a Tuesday or a Thursday. These days typically see fewer passengers and quite often you’ll get cheaper fares (assuming you have a Saturday-night stay over).
- Beware of pricey intercity airfares in Europe. You can often get the best deals from London’s numerous discount travel agencies or “bucket shops.”
- Look to Europe’s no-frills discount airlines. A wealth of cheap, bare-bones discount airlines have started up in Europe in the past few years, and many of these offer inexpensive flights between key European cities. It’s not a bad idea to recommend this to your travel agent.
- Keep abreast of fares even after you buy the ticket. Especially if you buy an air ticket many weeks in advance, check periodically to see if the fare has come down. You’ll often have to pay a fee of $75 or $100 to rebook your flight, but this charge may be worth it if the fare has dropped by more than this amount.
- If you’re traveling with a group, negotiate a discount. Are you and a large group of friends heading somewhere, or are you planning a family reunion? If more than 20 of you are planning to fly to the same place, contact the group sales departments of a few airlines and have them submit bids for your group. You can expect to get a fare at least one-third lower than the going published prices for individual travelers.
- Consult airline Web sites for cheapest fares. Don’t assume that Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia have the best deals. You may just find the cheapest fare on an airline’s own Web site. Airlines often offer special deals not available elsewhere, or give you bonus frequent-flier miles to induce you to use their site. Also, you can’t book flights on many smaller or discount airlines, such as JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, on Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia — you need to consult their Web sites directly.
- Don’t cash in frequent-flier miles for a cheap flight. If you’re getting a fare much below $250 or even $300 for a round-trip domestic flight in the U.S. or Canada, you’re probably better off paying this fare and saving your miles for a trip that costs more than this, such as a last-minute or high-season flight.
- Best day of the week to look for discount air tickets is Wednesday, according to travel journalist Peter Greenberg. Why? Because, says Greenberg, the fare wars of the airlines are started by the weakest competitors, and the “big guys tend to be the ones to raise fares. And all of that tends to happen on Fridays.”
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