This month we’ll talk strategy for choosing the best time to fly.
A typical domestic flight has about 10 airline price points (or ticket prices). According to my source, farecompare.com, you must jump certain hurdles to get the lowest possible price. I suggest you check out the website for the details, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version.
1. Purchase at least 14 days in advance.
2. Stay at least two nights; sometimes it helps if one of them is a Saturday
3. Depart or return on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday -- the slowest air travel days.
4. Depart at the least popular times of travel first flights out in the morning, after lunch, and after dinner.
5. Sometimes airlines set a travel departure window, i.e. you can’t buy cheap tickets in winter for the popular summertime vacation season until a certain amount of time before (usually two to four months from the date you purchase the ticket).
6. Sometimes the cheapest airfares are forbidden on non-stop routes, so that one extra stop might make the difference.
7. Typically, high passenger traffic times, such as Christmas and the summer vacation season, are blacked out for cheap seats.
8. Airlines often slap extra fees (“surcharges”) on peak travel days, and of course there is that nasty fuel surcharge when oil prices rise.
So there you have it. Next time, before booking, see how many hurdles you can jump, and get the cheapest ticket possible.
Here’s one final tip. When purchasing more than one ticket, book each passenger individually. Let’s say there is one ticket left at the cheapest rate. If you’re booking two people on the same reservation, the clerk (or website), will bump you both up to the next higher fare. If you do it individually, one of you will at least be able to take advantage of that lower fare or you can split the total.