Here are several ways to reduce the cost of your next plane ticket.
When to buy tickets
Plane tickets are almost as bad as gasoline when it comes to fluctuating prices. The cost of a ticket can change day to day and even hour to hour.
However, pricing tends to follow a certain pattern. CheapAir.com did a study and found that prices are the lowest about 49 days – or 7 weeks – before the travel date. For Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, shoot for making your reservations 14 weeks out.
How about the best day to buy a ticket?
Conventional wisdom says mid-week prices are cheapest and some rate studies seem to bear that out. FareCompare.com even nailed it right down to the hour saying the best prices are available at 3pm on Tuesdays.
If you aren’t sure whether plane ticket prices have bottomed out yet, check out Bing’s price predictor tool which can help you decide if it is time to buy or wait a little while longer for the price to drop more.
Airline fees that can add hundreds
When you are shopping for a plane ticket, don’t make the mistake of assuming the ticket price is your bottom line. In 2012, airlines collected $27 billion in fees on top of ticket prices.
The cheapest airfare might end up costing the most if you book with a carrier that is nickel and diming you with a boatload of fees.
Watch for these additional charges that may not be included in the quoted price:
- Fuel fees
- Baggage fees
- Priority check-in or preferred seating premiums
- Onboard entertainment costs and internet access fees
- Reservation change fees
Other tips to save money on plane tickets
Finally, as you are shopping for plane tickets, keep in mind these tips that can save you hundreds.
- Try shopping for smaller groups. Airlines might only sell their best rates in smaller quantities. Rather than buying four tickets at once, you might get a better deal by purchasing two sets of two tickets each.
- Check out the prices at smaller airports. Driving an hour to a different airport might save you a couple hundred dollars off the price of your fares.
- Compare the prices for one way tickets vs. round trip tickets. Round trip is usually cheaper, but not always.
- Likewise, consider flying the legs of your trip on different airlines. If you limit your luggage to only a carry-on, it shouldn’t be a big hassle to switch carriers halfway through your trip.
- Fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which seem to be cheapest days for air travel. Avoid Friday and Sunday flights which can be the most expensive.
- Follow airlines on Twitter and Facebook where they may post flash sales with deep discounts.
- My favorite site for booking flights is currently HipMunk.com. Flights are organized by a combination of best price, shortest length and fewest layovers. It’s a great site to include in your ticketing search.
Flying can be expensive but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a deal. Use these tips to score discount plane tickets for your holiday travel or any other time of the year.