You can save some serious dough on airfare just by knowing when to book and when to travel.
Here are five important tips for scoring cheap flights simply by knowing when to fly:
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1. The first rule of thumb when saving on airfare: Be flexible. If you aren’t too choosy about when you arrive or depart, you can save a lot more than someone who can’t play around with the dates to get the best deal.
2. Book either far in advance or at the very last minute. To have more low-cost options available to you, book your flight as soon as possible. The best discounts and the best seats tend to go to for those who have booked their flight a few months in advance. If you need to fly right away, take advantage of last minute deals. There are travel sites online that focus exclusively on getting rid of last minute inventory (both hotel rooms and airline seats). Bottom line: You can save by booking far ahead (3 months or so) or booking right at the last minute.
3. Use the Web. Online travel websites make it a cinch to play around with your travel dates to find the cheapest possible flights. Simply go to your favorite travel site and plug in the various dates. Flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the least expensive. Saturdays and Sundays also tend to be relatively inexpensive, but it’s all going to depend on your destination. You might also find, when experimenting on these travel websites, that one airport is more expensive to arrive in or depart from than another. Take all of these things into consideration before you book. Once you find the least expensive combination of flight dates, check out the airline’s website to see if you can save by booking directly. And if your schedule is ultra-flexible, you can take that information to make some informed bids at Priceline.
4. Consider the length of your stay. Many times, round trip airfare will be less expensive when your stay is short. If you plan to be in your destination for several weeks or more, experiment and see if it would be less expensive to purchase two one-way tickets. Again, this is going to vary around-trip circumstances and your destination, because it’s often the round trip tickets that are discounted. If you are going to book this way, book the flights with different airlines (or book at different times if you are using the same airline). If you don’t, you might still end up paying the round trip fare.
5. Pick up the phone and ask questions. If you are traveling during a peak time, call the airline to find out when is the cheapest time to fly during that season. For example, during the holidays, flights are typically very expensive. But an airline might deeply discount a flight on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. All you need to do is ask.
People who get the very best rates on flights and airlines are those who aren’t afraid to ask questions and who take the time to play around with different flight dates, destination airports, departure times and lengths of stay.
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