when to find cheap flights
Only a few on board got the best deal – Suhyeon Choi (unsplash)

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Now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, people are ready to book flights and get back to exploring the world but cost may be a limiting factor, especially for those who have been out of work due to the pandemic. Although travel can be expensive, using these tips and tricks to find out when to find cheap flights can help travelers on a budget to get where they need to be going for a fraction of the price.

So Here’s When to Book to Find Cheap Flights

In general, to find cheap flights you should book between 1 to 3 months prior for domestic flights and between 60 days to 6 months prior for international flights.

Read on for more detailed tips.

Book on a Tuesday

While you can always find special deals any day of the week if you search hard enough, Tuesdays are consistently found to be one of the cheapest flight booking days for airline tickets. Each Tuesday morning major airlines release their weekly sales early in the day, which often persuades other airlines to match these prices resulting in lower-than-normal fares becoming available for travelers. As weekly specials roll out in the morning, other airlines fight to match prices throughout the day which makes 3:00 PM on Tuesday the best time to buy flights with discounted fares.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

When researching flight reservations, there are certain booking timelines that travelers should keep in mind to get the best deal on flights. As a rule of thumb, travelers should never wait until the last minute to book flights as tickets for flights less than 3 days away will be exorbitantly priced due to limited availability.

When booking domestic travel, the best timeframe is generally between 1 to 3 months before the date of departure unless flying at peak travel times like the beginning of summer or during holidays. In this case, flights should be booked no later than 2 months ahead of time as prices increase closer to the holidays.

When booking international flights, travelers can generally get the best prices on flights booked between 60 days to 6 months ahead of time. Although it may give some travelers peace of mind to have their flights booked far in advance, booking too early can often be as pricey as waiting until the last minute to book.

Be Flexible About Dates

One of the best ways to save a ton of money on airline tickets is by having a flexible schedule when booking flights. When looking for flights online, many airline search engines will display the ticket prices for each day of the month that the user has selected and often times prices even just one or two days before or after the desired departure date may be much cheaper. For travelers with a flexible schedule, selecting an alternate date of departure or return can end up saving quite a bit of money.

Best Time of Year to Book

During certain times of the year known as the off-season, airfare rates are known to decrease sharply as most people are not traveling during this time and airlines are looking to sell tickets to keep business booming. Flight prices have been shown to drop substantially in early fall and the days immediately following New Year’s Day as airlines often offer steep discounts in order to entice people into traveling during the off-season. Even if travelers are not planning on taking a trip during this time, booking tickets for a future trip in this time period can save a pretty penny.

Choose the Best Days

Although most travelers may not consider any day of the week is better than the others to fly, there are certain days of the week that are usually less expensive than others when it comes to booking travel. When selecting domestic flights within the United States, some of the cheapest days to fly are generally Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. For international travel, weekday flights are generally less expensive than booking weekend travel. Travelers should try their best to avoid booking flights on a Friday or Sunday for any flights as these are generally the most expensive days of the week to fly.

Try Out Timing

In addition to choosing flights that run on certain days of the week, selecting different times of day may be cheaper than others when it comes to ticket prices. When researching flights, it is a good practice to keep an eye on flight time and compare prices for flights during less popular hours like early morning, late night, or overnight flights. In addition to cheaper fares, these flights are more likely to have unsold seats resulting in a more comfortable experience for lucky travelers.

Compare Travel Routes

When booking long flights, it may be helpful for travelers to research and compare a variety of travel routes ahead of time to help save money. When researching routes, travelers should look at pairing together multiple one-way flights, availability of alternate airports in the destination area, and price comparisons between non-stop and connecting flights. Why? Because packaged roundtrip flights or flights that are operated by a single airline may not always be the cheapest option.

Avoid the Holiday Rush

It’s understandable that the holiday season is especially busy for airlines as families reunite to spend time together and create holiday memories that will last a lifetime. As the holidays draw near, airlines take advantage of the high demand for travel and ticket prices increase sharply during this time. For travelers planning a trip during the holiday season, tickets should be booked at least 2 to 4 months in advance to get the best price on travel.

Keep an Eye on Special Deals

Travelers can often take advantage of seasonal offers like springtime savings, Black Friday deals, Christmas specials, and more to get the best deal when planning future trips. Although these deals often come with a small redemption window, for travelers looking to take to the skies within a few months of purchase they can be a great way to snag some low-fare deals.

Don’t Discount Budget Airlines

Travelers don’t have to wait for special deals when booking with budget airlines like Spirit Airlines as these companies offer low fares and competitive pricing year-round. Although most budget airlines have a reputation as being less glamorous than most major airlines, it is often worth sacrificing luxury to take advantage of their bottom-of-the-barrel pricing. Travelers booking a flight with a budget airline should be aware that most of these airlines offer options a la carte and guests should pack light to avoid additional charges for luggage, seat upgrades, and more. If you’re traveling with children, check their car seat policy as well.

Search in Stealth Mode

When using the internet, small pieces of data known as cookies are collected that enable websites to work more efficiently and provide more accurate search results to internet users. Although cookies pose no real risk to internet users, when searching for flights that information can be stored and if searched for repeatedly, may actually cause the price of an airline ticket to increase. For this reason, internet users should always clear their browsing history before looking up flights and search in incognito mode so that no information is collected or stored when conducting a search for airline tickets.

Don’t Hold Back on a Bargain

It’s no surprise that flight itineraries fluctuate on a daily or even hourly basis based on factors like public demand, staff availability, weather conditions, and more so if you find a great bargain while searching for flights at the best flight booking sites don’t hesitate to take it! Flight deals are notoriously short-lived and typically sell out fast, so waiting too long to act on bargain pricing may end up costing travelers more in the long run.

Pick the Cheapest Destination

For travelers looking to add a little extra adventure to their travels, flight search engines like the Skyscanner search option allows travelers to plug in the information for the airport of departure and select flights to “everywhere”. This will give users a list of available flight options in order of cheapest to most expensive. Utilizing this feature is a great way for travelers on a budget to check out new destinations all across the globe.

Sign Up for Special Savings

More and more people are looking for ways to get the best deals on airfare over the past several years as travel has become more accessible than ever. This high demand for travel deals has brought about countless travel websites, message boards, and even cheap flight deal email chains like Scott’s Cheap Flights or Next Vacay. Although many of these sites require paid subscriptions for platinum members to receive the best deals, there are plenty of free options out there for avid travelers looking to stay up to date on the best travel offers throughout the year.

Consider Credit Cards

Most major airlines like Delta and American Airlines have agreements with major credit card companies to offer frequent flyers special deals, upgrades, reward points, and more when using their airline credit card. Additionally, new members are usually eligible for one-time bonus miles when spending a certain predetermined amount of money within the first three months of opening a line of credit. This is generally anywhere between 30,000-70,000 bonus miles which can be redeemed for certain roundtrip flights within the United States. Opening a line of credit can help avid travelers fund their trips while building credit for everyday purchases.

Grab the Next Flight

As the demand for travel continues to be at an all-time high, airlines are constantly overbooking flights in anticipation of travelers missing their flights or connections. However, sometimes all of the passengers make it to their flight and this plan doesn’t work the way it was intended to. When this happens, airlines typically offer high rewards for travelers who are willing to give up their seat and be bumped to a later flight.

Although this can understandably cause some concern for travelers on a strict schedule, those with flexibility can reap the benefits of the airline’s mistake by taking advantage of offers at the gate. Most of the time, airlines will offer a $500 flight voucher to travelers willing to change their itinerary in addition to other extras like seat upgrades, food vouchers, and more. The possibilities are endless, all you have to do is ask!

Miss” Your Connection

Often referred to as hidden city ticketing or skiplagging, this form of travel involves getting off the plane in a connecting city instead of continuing all the way to the final destination. Although this may be a risky decision for some travelers who may lose luggage along the way or risk getting caught and reprimanded by the airline, it has become a popular loophole for many airline passengers traveling on a budget. There is now a dedicated website called Skipplagged that offers travelers some of the best prices on flights using this less popular travel method to fly under the radar.

Buy Tickets in Bulk

When booking long multi-city trips, regional passes or round-the-world tickets may be a good money-saving option for budget-conscious travelers. Round the world tickets are often sold by airlines and alliances as package deals that allow travelers to explore an entire country or continent at a discounted price when booking ahead of time. Airline alliances such as Star Alliance and travel planners like AirTreks allow travelers to plug in each destination city or stop of their trip into one search engine to generate the lowest prices on airline tickets for trips with multiple stops and destinations.

Although booking airline travel can be a time-consuming venture with so many options available these days, travelers willing to put in a little extra effort will find that they can reap amazing benefits when booking airline travel using these tips and tricks. Finding the best price on travel can help travelers explore the world on a budget and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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