How to get great deals that save you big
There are two ways of finding really cheap flights: know a really good travel agent, or second-guess the airlines.
There are no guarantees anymore when it comes to guessing pricing schemes in the airline industry, but with a little luck and some perseverance, patience and research, it is possible to find affordable flights.
Tips for Finding Affordable Flights:
- Pick flight dates wisely. During the vacation season weekend flights tend to cost more, since that's when most people fly. But airlines need to run flights every day of the week, so they may offer better prices midweek.
- Pick off-hour flight times. Midnight boarding times or 5:00 a.m. arrivals may not be fun, but there may be a substantial decrease in price.
- Consider flight schedules with stopovers. Although this may not be enticing for the harried traveler, it's often less expensive to take flights with stopovers.
- Consider timing the vacation for the off-season. Cheap flights to Europe, for example, abound during the winter, as that is the off-season.
- Consider off-the-beaten-path destinations. Smaller local airports, which may not be too far from one's actual destination, often service flights with nearby stopovers. It may cost a little extra to get to the city of choice, but perhaps not as much as a direct flight costs. A cheap UK flight, for example, could involve using Gatwick airport, rather than Heathrow, or flying to Dublin first and then taking a small plane to London.
- Be flexible with flight schedules. Cheap international flights can be found if one is open to stopovers as well as different routes. For example, a flight to Turkey can involve a stopover in Spain, while the return trip can involve a flight to London, then Lisbon and then back to the US.
- Try last minute. If possible, consider not shopping for tickets until just days before leaving. It is probably wise to book the flight when it drops to an affordable price, but sometimes, one can find astoundingly good deals in the days before the flight is scheduled, as the airlines need to find a body to fill the seat.
- Pack lightly. The price for luggage above a certain weight (check with the airlines) is only increasing, alongside the price of fuel. See if you can trim down your luggage to save a few dollars.
By Judy Lin