With tourism down all over the world, you’d think that it would be easier to find cheap airline tickets – but it hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, the prices for airline tickets has risen over the past few years, thanks to rising oil costs, higher material costs and higher personnel costs. As more and more airlines succumb to bankruptcy and mergers, there are even fewer airline travel deals around. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find cheap airline travel, though. Even in this era of high airline tickets, airlines are still slashing fees and trying to fill empty seats on their international and domestic flights.
These days, finding cheap airline tickets can be a matter of finding the right destination, the right tour company or the right place to stay. These tips can help you find cheap flights and flight deals.
Be Flexible with Travel Dates
Airline ticket prices bounce up and down based on lots of different variables, so that ticket that’s out of your budget range today could be quite reasonable if you’re traveling next week. To get the cheapest airline tickets, schedule your traveling for the off-seasons in your departure and destination cities. For example, if you’re flying from Boston to Fort Lauderdale for a Disney vacation, Spring Break is probably not the time to do it. When’s a good time? Sometime in September or March, which are slow seasons for Florida tourism. If you’re traveling in Europe, you may want to avoid booking flights in August, which is a major holiday month for many European families.
Likewise, you’ll find cheap air travel deals just after major holidays, or on early morning or late night flights. Finally, check prices for the days before and after your most desired departure and return dates. Midweek flights tend to be cheaper than weekend flights, for example, so if you can leave on a Wednesday instead of a Friday afternoon, you could score some significant savings.
Be Flexible with Destinations
Not sure where you want to go? Why not shop by airline flight prices? Top airlines flying into major destinations will almost always be more expensive than flights to smaller cities with secondary airports. You don’t have to fly to Paris to enjoy a French vacation. Instead, consider a flight to Nice and a stay in a country villa rather than a flight to Paris and expensive hotels there. You’ll find similar savings if you check different Caribbean islands for a tropical vacation or smaller cities in Asia rather than a flight to Hong Kong. In many cases, you can easily rent a car and make road travel and sightseeing part of your holiday plans. Check budget flight tools on airline ticket sites like Kayak.com and skyscanner.com.
Fly in to Secondary Airports on Budget Carriers
You don’t have to fly into Logan if you’re going to Boston. It’s actually far cheaper to land at Providence International, less than an hour away. It’s even cheaper if you fly in on a budget airline rather than one of the major flight carriers. Check out secondary airports close to major cities you want to visit and find airlines that land there. In the U.S., for example, JetBlue flies into Long Beach instead of LAX in los Angeles, saving you considerable money on your airline tickets. In Europe, check out Ryanair and Virgin Air for cheaper airline tickets, and in Asia, check out the airports where Air Asia lands.
Check Out Discount Airlines
Budget airlines are scarce in the U.S., though there are some regional carriers that offer low airline ticket prices – JetBlue is one that’s starting to branch out to many different cities. In Europe, there are a number of discount airline carriers that you should check out, and in Asia, the competition among multiple small carriers is driving prices down all over the place. You can air tickets between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for as little as $30 – less than you’d pay for a bus ticket between Boston and New York City. You’ll get fewer niceties, but you’ll get where you’re going for a lot less money. One caveat to note: be sure to check how far the airport is from the nearest major city. Sometimes ground transportation from the airport to the city is more expensive than flying in to the major airport in the first place.
Look for Alternative Routes
Unless you have reason to fly direct, check out alternative and roundabout routes to get where you’re going. If you’re willing to transfer at the airport, you can save a lot on airline tickets. It’s a lot cheaper to fly in on connecting flights than it is to take direct flights. It takes a little work to figure out the connecting flights and best routes, but putting in a little research can shave dollars off your airline flight – which will give you more money to spend on your hotel, car rental or fun at your destination.
Know How Much You’re Willing to Pay
It makes sense to hold out for cheap airline tickets, but don’t pass up a sweet deal because you hope a better one will come along. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for airline tickets and keep your eyes peeled for THAT price. Once you’ve booked your flight at the price you want to pay, stop looking so you don’t end up with buyers’ remorse. The fact is that the guy in the seat next to you didn’t pay the same price for his tickets that you did – but who cares, as long as you got a price that felt like a bargain to you? Not sure when the best time to buy is? Check out websites like Farecast.com to help you predict the best time to book your flight.
There’s More than Expedia and Orbitz
Everyone’s heard of Expedia.com and Orbitz.com – they lay out a fortune in advertising to make sure you know their names. The truth is, though, that they work with major airlines and boost those airline’s flights a bit higher in the rankings. Start your search for cheap air fares at Expedia and Orbitz, but don’t stop there. Look for search engines that aren’t affiliated with any airlines to find flights from secondary and budget carriers as well as those from major airlines. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., be sure to check out international sites like Skyscanner.com and Momondo.com to get a fuller picture.
Look for Discounts
Never leave a discount unclaimed. There are dozens of discounts out there for which you may qualify. Just a few examples:
– Student discounts on air fare through airlines and other organizations
– Frequent flier programs
– AAA discounts
– Shop at member stores to build airline miles for airfare discounts
– Watch for special offers on various websites
– Use your credit card if you get sky miles.
– Join mailing lists and sign up for newsletters
Don’t forget to check with your insurance company, professional organization and any other organizations to which you belong to make sure you leave no discount unclaimed.
Finding the best airline ticket deals takes some time and some research, but if you can shave a few hundred dollars off your airfare, you’ll have a few hundred dollars more to spend on yourself when you arrive at your destination.