Kelsey Tharp | Mar 20, 2020
There’s nothing like planning a trip to your dream destination, only to be thwarted by an outrageous flight price. It’s time to fight back against these often ridiculous prices.
Read on to learn the best ways to outsmart the airlines and get the fare of a lifetime.
One of the easiest ways to grab a deal is by using a flight tracking service, like Google Flight Alerts. I used this to successfully save $400 on tickets to Curaçao.
You’ll need to enter your vacation dates and your intended destination. Then, it’s time to wait. You’ll receive periodic email alerts that give information on the flight price. When the price dips low enough, it’s time to buy!
TIP: Set this up at least six months before your intended departure date for the best results.
If you’re openminded about your destination and timing, you’re likely to find a steal of a ticket price. The easiest way to do this is using something like Momondo or another flight price comparison service to look at fares for a variety of destinations. Then, pick your favorite location. Finally, book your trip. And you're ready to spend your days counting down the days until you leave!
TIP: Play with the departure and arrival dates. Moving these, even by one day could save you hundreds.
Traveling off-season is great: you’ll deal with smaller crowds and lower flight prices. To illustrate this, I thought an example would be most appropriate.
I compared prices from the Indianapolis International Airport (chosen because it’s the closest airport to me) and the Sydney Airport. Going to Sydney in December will cost about $2,000, but Sydney flights in May are about $1,200.* You can take that $800 in savings and book yourself an amazing wildlife tour or even explore another near-by destination.
TIP: This website has a cool, color-changing map that gives general on- and off-seasons globally. I checked out a few of them and it seemed to be accurate.
There’s a myth I’ve heard a great deal: the closer you book a flight, the better deal you’ll get. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Waiting until the last minute to purchase may give you a slim chance on an international flight, but definitely not domestic. Airlines take advantage of the flight-booking procrastinators and will skyrocket their prices as the departure date nears.
Most airlines recommend booking domestic flights one to three months in advance and international flights two to eight months ahead of time.
TIP: This is a guideline, not a firm rule. Use a flight price tracker when you’re getting ready to buy to get an even better deal.
If you’re looking for flights, you may have noticed that some of the cheapest ones can have an extremely long layover. Instead of booking your entire flight all at once, book your flights separately.
Example: Instead of flying directly from Indianapolis to Shanghai, you’d fly from Indy to San Francisco and then San Francisco to Shanghai.
The tickets are cheaper and you’ll get a bonus day in another city. Win-win!
TIP: If you’re confused about this, check out this article.
Major airports like O’Hare, ATL, and JFK will often offer cheaper tickets since they are so much larger than regional airports. If you’re like me and live close to a hub, it may be worth taking the extra time to fly out of one of these locations instead of a smaller local airport.
TIP: Make sure that getting to the airport doesn’t cost more than what you’re saving on tickets.