We’re all looking for the cheapest airfare out there, and at times it may feel like travel-booking websites are making it unusually hard for customers to find the best deals. There are some airfare secrets, however, that can help you save considerable amounts of money, often in unexpected ways. Below we’ve rounded up some of the rarest and most helpful tips.
Travel Agents Can Still Find Good Deals For You
Let’s start with an easy one: travel agents still exist, and they can still be hugely beneficial. Although you likely won’t consult a travel agent for every travel booking, these professionals shine when it comes to complicated, multiple city, multiple booking trips. Have a group flying together, possibly from multiple starting points, needing hotel rooms for various dates and durations? Travel agents can mine into booking data and strong arm hotels and airlines into giving better deals than what they might advertise online. The best part? Because travel agents get paid on commission by the hotel and airline companies themselves, they work for free. So let them handle the stress on your next traveling boondoggle.
Booking Connecting Flights in Separate Parts
For the true bootstrappers out there, check the price differential between booking connecting flights separately versus in a single package. Why? Airlines often don’t provide discounts or sales price tickets when connecting you through major hubs, but with individual bookings you may be able to reap the savings. Be warned, this method will require you to retrieve any baggage and enter through security an additional time for each flight (just as if two customers were taking two separate flights). However, as the Wall Street Journal explained, you could save $600, or 39%, on a summer trip from Atlanta to Berlin using this method. It may well be worth it for the penny-pinching entrepreneurs.
K-Up, Q-Up, and Y-Up Upgrades
For those looking to travel first class on domestic trips but not wanting to pay first class prices, you’ll want to check out unique seat assignments called K-Up, Q-Up, and Z-Up. These ticket classifications, which can only be purchased directly through airlines, are booked like standard coach seats but then automatically upgrade to first class upon arriving at the airport. Airlines use these identifications for a variety of reasons, but you can access these seats directly either through a travel agent or platforms such as ITA Matrix, a free-to-use portal that catalogs all tickets, and searching for the “Up” categorization in business class or higher. They generally cost more than standard coach but less than first class and can be a substantial savings option for the first class flyer willing to put in some investigative work.
Best Booking/Flying Times
Lastly, here are some quick rules of thumb that every savvy traveler should keep in mind when trying to find the cheapest flights.
- Plan your flights to avoid traveling on Monday, Friday, or Sunday as these are the most popular.
- Tuesday evenings and Wednesday early mornings offer the lowest weekly prices on airfare (on average).
- Purchase tickets seven to eight weeks in advance (and not any earlier).
- If purchasing flights for a group, consider purchasing one ticket at a time to avoid being “bumped up” into the next price band as the flight becomes fuller.
Sure these methods may seem fit for undercover detectives, but if you follow them, you may be able to save your business hundreds over the long run.