Double Duty Daddy

7 Tips To Booking Cheaper Flights

Sometimes I’m so deep into my own mind that I forget to share the basics of travel hacking. Often friends ask “help me find a cheap flight” to a particular destination, to which my usual reply is something like “it doesn’t work that way” or “ok I’ll help but I don’t have a magic low-fare wand”. 

There is a method behind finding low fares but if you’re determined to fly on a specific date to a specific destination on a specific time, nothing will help you find a cheaper fare except using frequent flyer miles.

You can however follow these tips and tricks to save money on airfare:

1. Use Google Flights and Google ITA Matrix as your main airfare search engines. I don’t use online travel agencies (OTA) such as Expedia and Orbitz because the former have the most comprehensive flight options and it’s always best to book directly with the airlines incase of flight cancellations or changes of flight.

2.  Try and fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Most of us don’t want to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesday or Saturdays, so airlines discount prices hoping the cheaper fares will get you to book that trip, in order to fill up their (increasingly uncommon) empty middle seat.

3. DON’T avoid flying on the actual holiday. The biggest savings typically come with flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. The exception is if you’re traveling over Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend as returning on the actual holiday will cost you an arm and a leg. Extend your trip to come back the Tuesday or Wednesday after the actual holiday and you’ll save a ton of cash.

4. Search for two one-way fares, even on different airlines. While some airlines charge extra for a one-way fare, it can pay to compare. Don’t be married to the idea of roundtrip with ONE airline. For example, flying MIA-LGA on American Airlines and returning JFK-FLL on Jetblue may save you significantly over booking the two legs with the same airline. Pro tip: Don’t rule out alternative airports in same city/area. You can Uber/Lyft it to/from each airport instead of driving and leave your car at the airport.

5. Jump on a HOT fare when you see it….immediately. Airlines are required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to offer 24-hour free hold or cancellations as long as you are booking your ticket 7 days prior to your travel date. Typically, you’ll have to pay first, then you get the full refund. Book now, plan later.

 

6. Know when to be loyal and when to shop around. If you’re loyal to an airline and perhaps have status with them, it pays to book with that airline and rack up miles. Think priority boarding, upgrades, free flight changes, etc. No status or plans to accrue miles with just one airline? Play the ‘free agent’ game and choose your flights based on airfare, schedule and convenience.

 

7. DON’T shy away from off-peak or shoulder-season travel. During months when destinations see a lower volume of visitors, expect to see lower fares and hotel rates. Example: taking a trip to Europe between Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas. Flights are a bargain (think $300-400 less than what you’d pay in peak months) and Europe with a little chill in the air is almost magical. Check out picturesque Christmas markets and enjoy indoor activities such as exploring museums, palaces and cathedrals.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Adrienne March 28, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Great tips and I shockingly knew most of them (def have been a fan of booking two one ways)!!! That said, I didn’t realize booking direct through the airline itself you can get the free 24-hour hold and cancel with no penalty if you change your mind. I’ve always booked through annOTA for this reason because they make it sound like a perk. Also, if I search a flight on google matrix and giggle flights (which I’ve started searching on thanks to you) then go straight to the airline website and they should be offering the same price?

    • DD Daddy March 28, 2017 at 6:46 am

      Searching on google flights and selecting your flights should take you directly to the airline website for booking and should display same pricing. Sometimes the fare is gone when you reach the airline website but that’s rare. ITA matrix is simply a search tool but doesn’t redirect you to the airline website so I end up using google flights to compare to ITA matrix and if I see same price, I prepare to book through airline, never OTA.

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