Get the secrets on how to save a third on summer airfare. As airlines tack on more fees, saving money on airline tickets may appear to be a mere wish. But even with all the added costs of flying, there are still deals to be had; you just need to know where to look and when to travel. Researching before you book your next vacation or plane ticket can save you the added headache — and the added costs — of your next flight. Read on and get ready to book those airline tickets to wherever your travels will take you — for less than what you’d expect. One idea is is if your departure and return dates are flexible, use airfare search engines to play around with various dates and land a cheap airline ticket, says Susanna Zaraysky, author of “Travel Happy, Budget Low.” These search engines scour the Internet for airline fares, covering hundreds of travel sites in a matter of seconds and saving you the time of clicking through each airline site on your own. Sites such as Kayak.com will show you the fares for each day of a calendar month to help you spot the lowest price.
While some sites let you book your ticket through them, you may get extra perks by purchasing directly from the airline website, Zaraysky says. You’ll often receive bonus travel miles for booking through an airline site. You’ll also be eligible for refund options and other airline programs. If you know your departing city, but are flexible as far as final destination, head to Airfarewatchdog.com. The site will send you alerts regarding deals on different destinations, Hockin says. She also recommends following your favorite airlines on Twitter. By tracking their tweets, you could snag a deal on a cheap plane ticket. Some airlines regularly tweet travel deals sales known as “Twares,” which are discounts on airfares offered to the company’s followers on Twitter.
Airfares are generally lower during the shoulder season — the period of time between high and low season, says Nicole Hockin, author of TravelSmartBlog.com. Any season can be a shoulder season, depending on your destination. Europe’s high season lasts from May through September. But head to London in October and you’ll enjoy fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures and cheaper airline ticket prices. The Caribbean and Mexico have great weather in late April and May, but prices for flights drop during these months as they fall after spring break and before summer vacation.
Timing of Flights
Another big savings method revolves around the timing. Timing has a lot to do with the airlines’ definition of summer. As far as they’re concerned, summer is done, dead, kaput by late August. The governing factor: that’s when kids go back to school. Let me give you two examples showing how, if you can move your flights around a little – in some cases it’s just a matter of a few days – you could save a bundle.
Example No. 1 – Domestic flight
First, let’s consider a long haul flight, such as Los Angeles to New York. I checked prices recently, and here is what I found:
- Round-trip airfare price for 7-day trip, departing Aug. 12 – $536
- Same trip, departing Aug. 26 – $401
- Percentage saved with later departure – 33 percent
- Please note that since airline prices are constantly changing, you may not get the same results by the time you read this, but chances are good you will come close.
For medium-length flights such as Chicago to Philadelphia, I saw savings of about 25 percent; on short hauls, such as San Francisco to L.A., savings of close to 20 percent. You can often find similar saving on trans-Atlantic flights, too.
Example No. 2 – Europe flight
See the difference just a couple of weeks makes when it comes to a flight from Chicago to Frankfurt.
- Round-trip airfare price for 7-day trip, departing Aug. 12 – $1,545
- Same trip, departing Aug. 26 – $1,157
- Percentage saved with later departure – 33 percent Savings vary.
Let’s say you push back a flight from Washington, D.C., to Paris by the same number of days. This will save you money, about 25 percent and that extra $300 in your pocket can buy an awful lot of bonbons de chocolat in the City of Lights.