We’re right in the middle of vacation shopping season. Can you believe it? Summer’s just around the corner! Here are a few down and dirty tips for getting the best price on airfare.
You should also scoot on over to our Summer Flights and Europe Summer Flights pages for date-specific advice on the best and worst days to fly from June to September!
#1 The Early Bird Still Gets the Worm If you have been eyeing June for your planning, you might be a little concerned at this point. And for good reason. Though it’s still possible to get cheaper fares in June today, there may not be as many options available as there were when you started searching in, say, January. Our best advice if you’re locked in on dates and see prices spiking now? Buy now. Summer is very popular, it’s closing in and it’s not a great gamble to hope for a sale.
If you have the date flexibility, we’d suggest moving your search closer to the end of the summer where the bulk of the deals still exist. In June, for example, a flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) on the weekend will set you back $373 on average. If you can take that same trip in the last weekend of August all the way through the end of summer, you can expect to pay about $300. A savings of $73 per ticket will save a family of four almost $300! Buy early! We can’t say it enough.
#2 Put on Your Realist Big Boy (or Girl) Pants When shopping for the 4th of July or Labor Day weekend, you’re not going to get the same prices as you would if your trip was mid-week in February. Summer flights are priced at a premium out of the gate! You should plan on spending a bit more for flights if your heart is set on summer travel, and put your energy into finding cheap accommodation (you can nearly always find good, budget accommodation even very last minute)!
#3 Mixing and Matching Flights is a Great Idea One of our secret weapons for snagging the best airfares pricing is offering our customers a more “mix and match” experience. You might choose one flight on the outbound on JetBlue and catch the return on Alaska Air for the best price. Because we offer this option, we can often get deals for customers that no one else is promoting. There’s really no downside to going this route – unless you’re loyal to one airline. That’s cool too! Being loyal is awesome! Just know that the biggest savings might not come across your radar.
#4 Pay for Your Bags In Advance Okay guys. On this point, we must be sticklers. These days, the airlines are selling everything a la carte, and at different price levels depending on where you are in the sales process. This means to get the best prices for an Economy fare on many airlines these days, you should plan to pay for your bags up front, when you’re buying the ticket sitting in front of your computer. You’ll pay a higher price for your luggage if you wait until later to buy online (after you’ve sorted out your wardrobe choices), and you’ll pay even more if you wait until you get to the airport. Under NO circumstances should you wait to pay for your bags until your travel day at the airport. They will make you pay for that bag. And it will be painful. For example, the carry-on fee for one bag with Spirit is $35 if you book it when you pay for your ticket. If you wait until you’re boarding to tell the airline you’re carrying on, they’ll charge you a massive $100.
#5 Monthly Installments are Available For pricier itineraries, you might consider our monthly payments option. We’ve partnered with Affirm to bring you this awesome way to finance your trip. You can pay off the tickets over 3,6 and 12 months, and in some cases, this might help customers who are on a budget and still saving for very expensive tickets. If you come across a deal before you’re ready to pay in full, monthly options can lock down the fare for you, not hold up your trip and allow you to make manageable payments over the following months.
#6 Cheat on Your Favorite Airport It’s not always possible to search for alternate airports, but if you are in a metropolitan area where more than one airport is an option you should definitely search all available departure points. If you’re willing to depart from an alternative airport, you can often find better savings than if you insist on your favorite airport. We know, we know. Not all airports are created equal. And we’re not advocating sacrificing convenience for a few bucks. But what if you can save big time? Flexibility can pay off!
#7 Be Ready to Buy This tip is another one we can’t stress enough. We do not advocate torturing yourself by watching airfares fluctuate for even one minute before you have the money to buy and/or are in a position to buy (see tip #5 if this sounds like you). We’ve been in the airfare business for a long time and if there’s one thing we’ve learned its that good prices do not last. The Internet has made it even easier for people to track fares, so rest assured. When a low fare pops up for your itinerary it will not stick around for long. People will come in and snap those low fares up quickly. Don’t hesitate!
#8 Flexibility with Dates = Game-changer You’d be surprised how much you can sometimes save if you have a little wiggle room with your travel dates. Sometimes a day earlier or later can return substantial savings. We always recommend keeping as much flexibility as possible in the planning stages so you can hop on these deals as they arise.
#9 Avoid Weekend Travel for the Biggest Savings This tip is one we cling to, though sometimes it feels like a losing battle. The difference in fares with Tuesday and Wednesday departures and returns compared to weekend departures and returns are usually fairly substantial, but it doesn’t much matter. People like to travel on the weekend for a variety of reasons – if you go on the weekend you can maximize vacation time without touching your vacation days at work. There are events like concerts and festivals on the weekend. Sometimes people just psychologically prefer leisure time on the weekend when other people are out enjoying the weather as well. But we like to go against the grain, and avoid the crowds and high hotel prices. To us (and lots of other people who have figured it out), mid-week travel is just more relaxing. And a lot cheaper for just about everything——including flights. Check out the calendar view of economy fare prices on our Summer Flights page. It’s illuminating. Try mid-week travel. We think you’ll like it.
#10 Use Our Insurance Policy We have a nifty little feature called Price Drop Payback. If your flight price goes down after you buy – Price Drop Payback eliminates that buyer’s remorse. We will reimburse you up to $100 in the form of a credit for future travel if your ticket price goes down. It’s simple. No more stress.
We love summer vacation! Tell us where you’re going this year in the comments below or share your tips for grabbing cheap airfare!