Flexibility is the key to finding cheap airfare. The time of year, the day of the week, and the time of day all affect the cost of your airplane ticket. Flying at the right time can literally save you hundreds of dollars.
Many destinations have a high season, with elevated visitation and expensive airfare, and a low season, with more moderate visitation and cheaper airfare. When planning your trip, shoot for the shoulder season, or the time period between the two seasons. During the shoulder season, the weather is still typically quite nice and the airline tickets have begun to come down in price. Once you choose the time of year, you can focus on the day of the week. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are generally the cheapest days of the week to fly, and trips without a Saturday night at the destination can sometimes be more expensive. If you really want to cut costs, schedule a red-eye flight. These flights usually take off and land in the wee hours of the morning, but they're typically deeply discounted due to the inconvenient time.
There are some great Web sites to help you find these deals. Sites like Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com allow a customer to enter a departure and return date, then search for fares up to three days before and after each of these dates. Other sites, like Itasoftware.com, allow users to search rates for the entire month.
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More Great Links
- Bankrate.com. "Five Ways to Save on Airline Tickets." Fox Business. July 29, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.foxbusiness.com/travel/2011/07/29/5-ways-to-save-on-airline-tickets/
- Bomkamp, Samantha and Scott Mayerowitz. "Searching for Airfares Doesn't Have to Be a Gamble." ABC News. June 17, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=13865413
- Bureau of Transportation Statistics. "One-Year Change in Average Domestic Fare 2010-2011." 2011. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://www.bts.gov/programs/economics_and_finance/air_travel_price_index/html/table_09.html
- FareCompare. "Domestic Airline Baggage Fee Chart." Feb. 21, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.farecompare.com/how-to-shop/domestic-baggage-fee-chart.html
- Frommer, Pauline. "Traveling Smarter: When to Splurge and When to Scrimp." Atlanta Travel and Adventure Show seminar. http://www.adventureexpo.com/Default.aspx?id=691b8f66-7fe7-484a-996e-39b3a1ae34c2
- Higgins, Michelle. "Flying to Europe, for a Little Less." The New York Times. Sept. 28, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/travel/finding-cheaper-fall-flights-to-europe-online.html?ref=travel
- Maynard, Micheline. "American, Cutting Back, Plans $15 Bag Fee." The New York Times. May 22, 2008. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/business/22air.html?scp=10&sq=airline%20luggage%20fees&st=cse
- NPR Staff. "A Frequent Flier Shares His Travel Secrets." NPR Books. Aug. 20, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.npr.org/2011/08/20/139786389/a-frequent-flier-shares-his-travel-secrets
- NPR Staff. "When Airfares Vary Wildly, Where Are the Deals?" NPR. June 21, 2011. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.npr.org/2011/06/21/137305347/when-airfares-vary-wildly-where-are-the-deals
- Potter, Everett. "How to Save Money on Airfare." Travel and Leisure. November 2010. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/how-to-save-money-on-airfare
- Seaney, Rick. "What Taxes and Fees on Airline Tickets Cost You--Prepare to Be Shocked." FareCompare. Aug. 4, 2010. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://www.farecompare.com/news/airline-ticket-taxes-and-fees/
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