Don’t you just hate it when you book a flight for a trip and find out a week or two, or even a month later, that the airfare dropped after you booked? I mean, think about what you can do with that money you wasted!
It’s happened to me more than once.
But after booking bunches of trips over the past couple years, I’ve learned there are a few tips to getting a good rate on flights if you can be a little flexible.
I don’t mean flexible with your dates. I get that we all have tight schedules and have to go when we have to go.
I mean flexible with when you BOOK the flights.
Book them too soon and it’s like the airlines know you’re overly eager to go and also overly willing to pay to get there. Sit tight.
In my experience, if you can wait until about six weeks out, you will most likely find the best rate (and it’s not just me, as I recently discovered in this study that confirms my findings). It may not work if you have six people who need seats together, but if there’s just one or two of you and it’s not a special holiday, you should find you’ll end up with a lower rate than if you had booked outside that window.
I have also found that the best rates are offered on Tuesdays, usually in the afternoon. One airline will publicize a special deal and before you know it, you’ll be seeing listings by other airlines doing the same. If you’re lucky, it’ll be to your desired destination. But here’s the thing: in this case, you have to move fast. If the rate is low as part of their special deal, it may not last long since those tend to be limited to just a few seats.
Finally, if you know you’re going to be taking a trip, sign up for airfare e-lerts from a service such as airfarewatchdog.com. They’ll let you know if the price for your flight drops. It’s a good heads up when you have your hands full of other obligations and may save you from last-minute higher rates.
Here’s an example of proof that this works: I’m taking a trip in November to the Family Travel Conference where several speakers will be sharing their secrets on video production for travel reviews. That’s my “thing” as a Traveling Mom, so I won’t be missing this conference. When I first started looking at flights to Dallas (the event is taking place at the Omni Dallas Hotel at the Convention Center), they were more than $300. I have family in Dallas and know in the past I didn’t pay anywhere near that, so I waited it out. Last Tuesday I decided to take another look and was happily surprised to see flights as low as $206. I had to book a flight for earlier in the day than I wanted, but considering the next time slot bumped rates up to $265, I figured it was worth the couple hours time difference.
In my mind, I just saved nearly $100 on the flight.
And that made it possible to buy an awesome pair of cowboy boots that I’ve had my eye on for the trip. Win, win, right?!