How to Get the Best Prices on Airfare

by Miranda Marquit

If you are a traveler, you are probably very interest in finding good deals on airfare. Flying is far from cheap, and being able to save $50 or $100 on an airline ticket is worth a few minutes of bargain hunting.

If you are looking to get the best prices on airfare, you need to realize it’s all about the timing. When you buy your ticket, and the dates your ticket is for, matter a great deal in the price that you end up paying.

Departures and Returns

how to find the best prices on airfare

Timing is everything when buying airline tickets

First of all, consider when you plan to leave, and when you plan to return. Many experts suggest that leaving on a Wednesday can provide you with the best airfares. Other cheap departure days include Tuesdays and Saturdays. Consider returning midweek as well. If you leave midweek, and return midweek, you can log decent savings for your airfare.

Earlier this year, as I was planning a trip for my son and myself to visit my in-laws, I found that the best rates leaving on Saturday and returning on Saturday. Sometimes, it pays to play around a little with your departure and return dates. I like to use aggregators that offer a “flexible” option. I look for airfares two days before and two days after my stated departure and return dates. You end up with a matrix that can provide you with the lowest fares based on a range of departures and return dates. If you have a little flexibility, this can be a great way to look for the best combination. The time of day you schedule your flights can also mean bug savings.

When To Buy

When you buy your airline ticket also matters. Interestingly, the best time to make your purchase is between 18 and 28 days before you fly out. Sometimes, booking really far in advance doesn’t provide you with a solid advantage. It’s also worth noting that a number of airlines make fare changes on Tuesdays. Booking midday or late in the day on a Tuesday can help. You can also find interesting deals if you book in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday. Few people are up at 2 am, making airfare purchases, which is why some airlines put their low rates at that time. Fewer people can book those rates, and they are still able to advertise that the fact that their tickets are “as low as” whatever that amount is.

Also, pay attention to peak times. You can save money by booking travel during lower-traffic times of the year and of the month. If you try to travel the day before Thanksgiving, or if you fly during Spring Break, be prepared to pay more for your airfare. Planning in advance can help you avoid these problems, and help you find the best fares.

Other Tips

You can also make sure that you secure lower airfare with the following tips:

  • Shop around: Price aggregators make it easy to shop and compare multiple airlines, airports, and departure days and times. Check with Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, and similar vendors.
  • Check for price guarantees. Some aggregators will refund the difference if your fare drops between the time you buy and the time you travel.
  • Consider other airports: Sometimes, you can fly into a different airport and get a better fare. Check airports within 50 miles of your destination to see if you can do better.
  • Packages: If you need hotel and rental car, getting a package deal can help you save money on everything.
  • Straight to the airline: Some airlines will give you a better deal for booking directly (some, such as Southwest, only allow you to book through directly through them). Check for online specials, as well as low-fare guarantees.
  • Credit cards, rewards miles, and points: You may also be able to save money if you use a branded airline credit card or turn in your rewards points. Even if the price is the same with the branded card, most of them offer double miles when you buy an airline ticket on the airline that matches your credit card.

What other tips do you have for saving money on airfare?

Image credit: caribb

Published or updated November 14, 2012.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 krantcents

Great points, particularly around holiday time. I also check travel websites such as


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