Becoming a savvy air travel shopper has its perks. If you want to get the lowest fares for your flights around the United States, making the best ticket purchase decisions for your trips can help you save hundreds of dollars, especially when compared to those who simply dive into whatever rates they initially bump into.
Shopping around and being flexible help a lot in getting cheaper tickets. As an important note, a discounted airfare usually entails special procedures or restrictions, including less practical means of changing to a different flight or being unable to get a refund. And so, it is always best to understand all special terms in budget fares before booking.
Time and Day Preferences
The first flights out of the day, most of which start around midnight until the wee hours of dawn, mostly offer more budget-friendly fares. The so-called “red-eye” flights leaving around 11:00 p.m. or later are typically great deals. More often than not, flights during lunch and dinner times also tend to cost less.
Midweek departures going to different destinations around the country are usually the most inexpensive. According to an in-depth study mentioned in the Fare Compare website, the cheapest day to take a domestic flight is on a Wednesday. It is one of the three cheapest days, with the others being Tuesday and Saturday. Avoid Friday and Sunday as they are the most expensive days to travel around the country. Meanwhile, the best times to buy domestic airline tickets are every Tuesday and Wednesday. Avoid weekend buys as the more expensive deals are made available during these times. Take note that all these only apply to domestic travels. International travel rates work quite differently.
Since a smaller nearby airport means less competition from both international and domestic flights, if time and effort is at your side and you would find it amenable to arrive at an airport a little farther from your intended destination, choose a smaller city or a nearby airport that has lower passenger demand compared to a significantly busier travel hub. Often times, more rural parts of the country and government-subsidized coastal islands can provide travelers with more affordable deals. When choosing such airports, make sure you factor in car rental, fuel, and parking costs or shuttle or bus service expenses into the equation.
Discounts and Promotions
Packaging an airfare with hotel and car rental reservations is a great way to save on your travel expenses. Airlines can also offer specific promotions for groups and frequent flyer club members.
Aside from the more familiar travel promos available to the public during both peak and off-peak seasons, airline companies also feature a variety of discounts for specific demographics and situations. A good number of them provide student and senior citizen discounts, as well as low or even free fares for young children. Some airlines can possibly accommodate discounted fares when flying on short notice due to a family emergency, such as death or sudden illness. In such cases, it is best to call the airlines to inform the agent about it, as this is not possible to arrange online. Military and airline personnel are often eligible for cheap or even free domestic travels. Some of these offerings may extend to their family members as well.