Planning to take off this winter season? Whether you're thinking about visiting loved ones, relaxing on a tropical island, or hitting the mountains for skiing, it's important to shop around for the best travel deals, especially airfare.
Shopping for flights can feel a little like playing the stock market. One day, prices are up, the next they drop considerably. So how do you master the art of airfare shopping? You can start by reviewing these helpful shopping pointers:
- Avoid peak travel times. It's a simple fact that airfares are priced higher during peak travel seasons, such as Thanksgiving and holidays. Many experts recommend that if you can, you should travel during the period between the high and low travel seasons. This is known as the "shoulder season."
- Be flexible. The more flexibility you have in planning your trip, the more you may be able to save. When searching flights, try experimenting with different departure and return dates. Sometimes waiting just another day can save you hundreds of dollars.
- Know when to shop. In general, airlines usually announce sales on Monday evenings. That makes Tuesday afternoons a great day to look for cheaper fares. Also, consider flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays when business travel is lower, and airlines offer cheaper flights.
- Compare. Compare. Compare. If you've spent any time looking at airfare, you know that different airlines can offer significantly different prices. That's why you should look at all airlines that travel to your destination.
- Shop online. You can look for flights directly on airline websites or on free travel sites, such as kayak.com, travelocity.com, and orbitz.com, which search several sites at once and present all your options to you in single place. Keep in mind, however, that flights from travel sites are not necessarily cheaper, so be sure to look at flights from individual airline sites.
- Sign up for alerts. Many travel sites and airlines offer travel alerts to notify you of sales and price changes.
- Pay attention to the fees. Airlines not only vary in flight pricing, but also in fees, such as baggage fees. When comparing flights and airlines be sure to know the fees for baggage. Some airlines don't charge baggage fees for the first bag, while others do. Read the fine print.
- Use frequent flyer miles. If you travel the same airline often, be sure to sign up for rewards programs. This could help you get discounts and savings on your flights.
- Sit back and relax. If you've followed the above tips, chances are you may have saved some money. The only thing left to do is to relax, and bring your seat backs in an upright position to prepare for takeoff.