As we head into the heart of summer, travelers scouring the web looking for the best flight deals shouldn’t be surprised to find fewer deals. A new study from the Global Business Travel Association suggests the price for flights domestically will rise 4.6% and 8.3% for international tickets in 2013.
Saving money on flights requires a bit of planning – and strategy. Here are a few pointers:
1. Save when the flight is oversold
Airlines often overbook flights in the event a passenger doesn’t show up for the flight, this way flights are always flying at full capacity. But in the event everyone is at the gate and no one cancelled their flight, the airline will ask a few passengers to volunteer to fly on another flight later that day, since the original one was oversold. If no one volunteers, usually the last person to check-in will be bumped to the next flight.
If you volunteer, expect to receive some form of compensation – whether it’s cash or a free flight voucher. Depending on what the airline is offering you, it may be worth hoping on the next flight, as the compensation may cover the costs of the ticket price.
2. Track prices and use social media to save
Yapta.com will alert you if the price of a certain ticket you’re thinking of buying happens to drop. Also, if you book directly with the airline, you may find yourself saving more money than the third party travel sites. Dealing with the airline cuts out the middleman and the commission the airline pays to the third party site. Plus, Southwest Airlines does not post its fares on the third party sites – and they are a low-cost carrier that’s flooded with deals.
And if you’re looking for super cheap deals, follow the airlines on Twitter, especially JetBlue, which has a @JetBlueCheaps Twitter handle, which reveals last-minute deals on Tuesday afternoons. The other airlines post promo codes on their social media pages, too.
3. Book well in advance
While this might not be possible for business travelers who need to fly for an unexpected meeting, aim to book flights several weeks in advance when the prices are lower.
According to Kayak.com, if you book domestic flights 12-35 days before your departure date, you can save 6%.
4. The day you fly matters
Airline prices are constantly fluctuating. You’ll save money by flying during the week, rather than weekends. The airlines and even the hotels see an uptick in traffic on Fridays and weekends – not to mention the convenience of traveling on the weekend, hence why the prices are lower during the week.
Also, try to book flights on Tuesday afternoons – this is when the airlines usually start their sales.
5. Fly out of a smaller airport
The lower cost carriers will typically fly out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, instead of the busier hub in Miami, even though both cities are relatively close to one another. If you’re always flying into a city’s main airport, you could find yourself paying top dollar. Other examples include flying into Burbank, California instead of Los Angeles and Oakland, California instead of San Francisco.
6. Airport parking
If you’re traveling for over a week, paying the daily parking fee at the airport is bound to add-up, especially since these parking fees cost upwards of $20 per day.
A cheaper alternative is to check some of the parking lots near the airport, which sometimes offer direct shuttle service to the airport. Plus, you can score a parking deal for as little as $3.99 per day. Check AirportReservationsParking.com for a list of cheap places to park near the airport.