No one likes to find out the person sitting next to them paid $200 less than themselves. Unfortunately, the fluctuation of airfares appears terribly unpredictable, and there's no way to tell whether waiting will lead to a plummeting or skyrocketing fare. But frequent travelers and statistics analysts have a knack for figuring out trends. Here is some of their wisdom about flying on the cheap.
- Take Advantage of Technology. Airlines use email alerts and social media site such as Facebook and Twitter to announce cheap fares and great deals. Checking the airline's website itself can sometimes yield surprisingly different results than other sites. Independent website like Foxfare and AirfareWatchdog offer alerts about good deals and cheap fares, customizable to your particular needs and trip.
- Know When To Fly. The cheapest day to fly, according to FareCompare.com, is Wednesday. Red-eyes are also much cheaper, but flights that leave early in the morning tend to be the cheapest.
- Know When To Book. Booking your ticket at the right time can save you a lot. FareCompare.com claims that 3pm on Tuesday (Eastern time) is the cheapest time to book a ticket. Short of this, it seems that most deals appear early in the morning, and the prime time for cheap tickets is generally about six weeks before departure. Last minute deals can also save you a lot if you're willing to wait until the last minute to receive the alert and book your flight.
- Be Flexible. Flexibility in your time (and date) of departure will save you a great deal of money, and being flexible with the exact location of arrival may also produce savings. Flights with layovers tend to be cheaper than those without. Be creative in searching for flights--sometimes booking a flight from, say, The U.S. to Abu Dhabi and a separate flight from Abu Dhabi to India is cheaper than booking a flight to India with a natural layover in The U.K.
- Search Multiple Sites. Different websites will give you vastly different results. Search a diversity and take advantage of tools that some sites offer to find comparisons and similar options at a lower price.
Booking cheap flights takes practice, but after playing around with it for a while you are likely to get the hang of it. Got a vacation destination in mind? Be sure to check out our travel guides for tips and advice. Happy travels!