Don’t you find it odd that airfares fluctuate so significantly, not only during the holiday season but also during the most boring week of the year? Most of us already know about the different price classes on the plane (in addition to the economy, business, and first class) and how the earlier you book your ticket the cheaper it will be. But your seat and the time of your booking are not where it ends, and airlines are trying everything to maximize the ticket prices, in a very flexible way.
The following tips will help you overcome those little airline tricks and make sure that you reach your destination with a much cheaper ticket. Are you ready?
1. Keep your searches top secret
Airfares are far from being fixed, and complex algorithms are actually built to maximize profit based on your personal data, such as your IP address (which tells them where you’re visiting from), your device (apple fans pay more) and your even your browsing history (they can tell if you’ve got a fancy taste in shoes). That’s why you often see that after a few searches prices increase.
To overcome this issue, always book flights and hotels using your browser’s incognito mode, which masks all of this private information and protects you from evil airline algorithms. This will show you the most ‘neutral’ prices.
Note that every time you open an incognito window your cookies are clean, but multiple searches on that window will also let the airline algorithms know they can raise the price especially for you. To be sure that you’re seeing the best available price, always search on a new incognito window, and after you’ve closed all the others.
2. Know where to look
All flight search engines take a cut for their service, but some take more than others, so it’s important to have your go-to websites as well as knowing where you’ll be wasting your money and time. Although there are many articles out there comparing the different websites, the results are very inconsistent. Working on this article, we found many of the articles on big websites such as the New York Times and The Guardian to be a plain advertisement, or too narrow.
However, reading through a couple of dozens of comparisons, we noticed a few players that always ranked high – Momondo.com, SkyScanner.com, Google Flights and AirfareWatchdog.com, Kayak.com and Jetradar.com. Each of these websites has its pros and cons, so when you plan your next trip make sure to check all of them. You can read 2 of our favorite comparisons here and here.
3. Best time to book
Many airlines release their weekly sales on Tuesday mornings, forcing smaller airlines to match their prices fast. Hence, the best time to book a flight in the U.S. is usually on a Tuesday around 15:00 Eastern time. For a U.S. domestic flight, it would be a good idea to book 1-3 months in advance, International travelers should book their flights a bit earlier, 2-5 months before departure.
4. Best day to fly
The cheapest days for U.S domestic flights are Tuesday, Wednesday and surprisingly enough, Saturday, whereas Friday and Sunday are the most expensive. If you fly internationally you’ll pay more on the weekends, including Saturday. You’ll be saving more money if you don’t mind flying very early in the morning or in an overnight flight.
Of course, this isn’t always the case so you should check other available days as well. In some websites, you can see the price for a whole month. On Sky Scanner you can do this by choosing only the one-way trip, and under the depart box click ‘whole month’.
5. Book multiple tickets separately
Are you flying with friends or with the family? If so, this next tip could really help you. Let’s say that you’re flying with your wife and kid, but the booking website only has one ticket left for $100, and the rest cost $200. If you book the three tickets together you’ll pay $200 for each ticket, that’s $600 in total, due to a little-known configuration in the ticketing systems, saying multiple tickets that are bought in a single transaction must be priced the same. However, if you book the three tickets separately you’ll pay $100 for the first ticket and $200 for each of the other two. You just saved $100! And don’t worry about the seats, you can either reserve them with your tickets or during check-in.
Not all airfares are created equal, but there are many ways to find the cheaper ones and save money. Airlines and websites set ‘personal prices’ prices for each of us, but luckily there are some simple ways to overcome their tricks by using our own. From searching and booking in incognito mode to knowing at which days one has better chances of getting the cheap ticket, after reading this article finding cheaper airfares should be a piece of cake for you.