Flights are usually the biggest upfront cost of a trip. Sometimes airfares are more expensive than others, pending the site you are using, the destinations you are trying to get to, and the days you are flying. Here are some of my favorite ways to find cheaper fares:
Airfare Watch Dog
Airfare Watch Dog is awesome. I really love this site because real people are monitoring it. Not robots, whereas other sites use robots and by the time you go and look for the good deal, it’s gone or you are not able to find it.
I use Hipmunk when I need to find the best deal with the best schedule. Hipmunk has a setting where you can choose “Agony”, it is some sort of algorithm that calculates the schedule vs. price vs. time traveled. The website search shows you all of the options in a nice bar graph format so it's visual, concise, and easy to read. No scrolling through pages of flights—this one is on one page and you control the settings.
I use these two great tools when I am booking my airfare. However, I hardly ever book on the website I am researching on. I almost exclusively book on the actual airline site. Contrary to popular belief, you will almost always find the best price on the mainline sites. Most airlines have a best price guarantee, use it!
Twitter is a huge help when trying to land cheap deals and you don’t have to worry about times and schedules. My favorite to follow is @airfarewatchdog. Just like their website they do not have robots that find the flights, they have actual people and provide screen shots of the actual fare.
I have read several articles on “How to find the best deal”, “Best days to buy tickets”, “Best time to buy”. I wish I could find the article that proved all of these old wives tales wrong. I read it several months ago and it basically said, buy when you can, at the price you feel is right, and do what’s right for you.
Tall Girl Travels philosophy on buying plane tickets:
Buy early. I have had too many times to count where I waited for a deal
and then ended up paying hundreds of dollars more.
2. Sign up for email alerts to all major airlines you are willing to fly. When you sign up for these alerts you will get a feel for what goes on sale when. I am a huge fan of Alaska/Horizon Air and I know they have sales at particular times during the year.
3. Check all websites you have the patience to check. Kayak, Hotwire, Cheapoair, Hipmunk, all major airlines, every day for a week. Get a feel for when fares fluctuate. (Usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)
4. Have as flexible dates as possible. If you can swing it, Travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Classically the lowest fares of the week you will find that fares are usually more inexpensive on those days.
5. Decide what your priorities are. Do you have a schedule you want to keep? Are you flexible on times? Decide what is most important to you. For example: I look for total travel time, schedule, and price. I would happily pay more for a direct flight, or a short layover. But that’s me.