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When it comes to booking flights for your next domestic or international trip, can be a daunting task. With so many options, airline policies, and prices, it can be difficult to figure out what option is best for you. However, there are a few key pieces of advice to keep in mind when booking flights that can help make the process a little bit easier. Knowing when to book, how to get the best deals, and how to maximize your time in the air can go a long way in ensuring you get the best value and experience for your trip. By following these tips, you can make sure you get the best flight deal possible, allowing you to save money and relax during your travels.
Identify the best time to book domestic and international flights
The best time to book domestic flights is typically seven to eight weeks in advance, while international flights should be booked around two to three months before departure. These timelines will vary slightly depending on the airline, the season, and the route. Certain times of the year, like the holiday season, are more popular, so booking early and being flexible with your dates and times can go a long way in securing a great deal. If you wait until the last minute, there is a greater chance that the seats on the flight you want will be sold out, especially during the busy holiday season and summer travel months. Booking early also gives you more peace of mind, as you have more time to fix any issues that arise, such as a flight being canceled or rescheduled.
Compare prices from multiple airlines
When booking a flight, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare prices from multiple airlines. In many cases, booking with the airline directly can cost more than booking through a third-party booking website. There are a number of flight comparison websites that can help you find cheaper flights from multiple airlines. Some websites, like Hopper, will show you fare trends and predictions, letting you know when to book for the best deal. Orbitz and Expedia are a couple of booking websites that let you compare prices from multiple airlines. Another way to find cheaper flights is to look for hidden city or hidden airport flights. These are flights that stop over in another city but don’t show up on your ticket. You can sometimes find these cheaper than direct flights, especially if you’re willing to book a few days or weeks in advance.
Be flexible with your dates and times
Being flexible with your dates and times can go a long way in securing a cheaper flight. If you have your heart set on a certain flight, but it’s significantly more expensive than other options, you’re more likely to miss out on the better deal. Try to be flexible with your dates and times to see what comes up. This can mean booking a few different options and waiting a few days to see which one is the cheapest. Another option is to book the flight you want and then try to change the date online. You may be able to get the price of the flight lowered if it’s not full. This can be a useful tactic to save money, but keep in mind it may not be allowed by all airlines, so check their policies first.
Look for hidden fees and taxes
While searching for cheap flights, be sure to account for all fees and taxes. Some airlines will list the base fare, which is what you pay for the ticket, while others will list the total price, which includes fees and taxes. Taxes are typically included in the price of the ticket, but certain fees, like baggage fees, can be added on. Be sure to look at the total price when booking a flight to make sure you aren’t getting hit with any extra fees you don’t expect. Some airlines will tack on a fuel surcharge fee if gas prices are high. It’s important to account for all fees, especially ones that are out of your control, so you don’t end up paying more than you expected.
Book flights with long layovers
You might have heard this tip before, but booking flights with long layovers can actually save you money. This is because booking a flight with a short layover, like a flight that lasts only an hour or two, can cost more. This is because airlines charge higher rates for these types of flights because they’re less convenient, meaning they have fewer passengers. As a general rule, try to book flights with a layover time of at least five hours. This will help you avoid paying extra and will also give you some extra time to explore the airport. If you have a lot of extra time, you can also try to book flights with layovers in bigger airports. Bigger airports usually have more flights going out and coming into them, which often means more availability and lower prices.
Look for hidden city and hidden airport flights
Hidden city and hidden airport flights are flights that stopover in another city that passengers don’t get ticketed for. This is usually done because the ticket from Point A to Point B is more expensive than Point A to Point Z. You can find hidden city and hidden airport flights by typing in “hidden city” into the flight section of Google Flights. Typically, hidden city flights are done to save money on expensive flights, such as flights to Hawaii. However, there are also some advantages to booking a hidden city flight, like avoiding security checks, being able to bring more items on the plane, and getting to explore a new city.
Use credit card rewards for flight purchases
Credit cards offer a lot more than just a way to purchase items with a consistent monthly payment. In particular, some credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, offer a travel rewards program in which you can earn points towards free flights. These points can be redeemed for several travel-related items, including flights. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your credit card to see if it offers travel rewards. The best credit cards for travel rewards also typically don’t come with annual fees. If you’re booking a flight with a credit card, make sure you pay off the card in full before interest kicks in. This will help save you money in the long run and keep you from racking up large credit card debt.
Utilize flight-tracking websites
Flight-tracking websites, like FlightAware, let you track flights from start to finish, letting you know exactly when your flight leaves and lands. These websites also have a route map that shows you the path the flight takes, which can be helpful if you’re trying to track down a specific flight. If you’re booking a flight, you can enter the details into these websites to see what the flight path is. This can help you figure out if there are any potential problems like flight cancellations or bad weather, which can save you time and money. These websites can also be useful if you’re trying to find more direct flights. These direct flights can sometimes be cheaper than connecting flights, especially if you’re booking a last-minute ticket, so it’s worth checking out a flight-tracking website before booking a ticket.
Look for discounted tickets
When booking a flight, it’s a good idea to sign up for alerts from travel websites and airlines. Many websites, like Kayak and Travelocity, will alert you when a flight drops in price. You can also sign up for alerts from the airline directly. These alerts can help you find discounted tickets. If you’re flexible with your dates and times, you might even be able to find last-minute tickets for a lower price. Travel websites, like Priceline and Expedia, also offer travel deals. These travel deals, like flight deals, are typically discounted rates on hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages, so keep an eye out for these deals when booking your next trip.