Budget Travel: 7 Quick tips for cheap airplane tix

Spending some time on the road this year? Chances are, you’re going to have to battle the internets for a good deal on your flight. But what to do when the prices are sky high and your wallet is recession skinny?

Most respectable travel websites out there have giant lists, strategies and flow charts about the best way to get the absolute best price. It works, but it can be complicated, and in a busy world like this, few of us have time to look through an ITA Matrix and calculate the most optimum routing.

Don’t know what an ITA Matrix is? Then keep reading for our quick tips to getting the best price on airplane tickets.

  • Flexible Flexible Flexible: There’s a reason that Kayak has a “flexible dates” option in their search engine. Traveling on Fridays and Sundays are most expensive (highest demand,) so if you can, try Thursday or Monday. Monday AM flights are often drastically less expensive and you can still often get into work by 10.
  • Book early: Probably more than a month out. Definitely more than two weeks. If it’s inside of a week, drive or take a hot air balloon.
  • Use a metacrawler: Given that we just mentioned Kayak, we should point out this important tip: Always use a metacrawler. Both Kayak and Mobissimo search engines search all of the traditional search engines on the market AND airline websites, so you can guarantee that you’re not shelling out extra cash on a third party website.
  • Check the Low Cost Carrier: Southwest doesn’t publish its fares on the regular search engines, so make sure you do a cross check at southwest.com before you book your ticket.
  • Search nearby airports: Flying out of Los Angeles? Make sure you check Long Beach (LGB,) Santa Ana (SNA) and Ontario (ONT) as well. Airports with a large LCC presence often have more competitive fares.
  • Look for coupons: As our friends at Airfarewatchdog (AFWD) recently pointed out, promo codes are the way that airlines are going this year. American, Virgin America and JetBlue are among the carriers that frequently used coupons last year and you can expect moreto come. Not sure where to find codes? Check with AFWD or your respective carrier over at flyertalk.com.
  • Consider a consolidator: For international travel, consolidators often buy tickets in a discounted block and pass the savings onto passengers. Hotwire.com and airlineconsolidator.com are both fairly simple sites that you can use, or you can always use a local (physical) source.

Finally, the best piece of advice we can give is to be patient. If you’ve got a few months before your dates of travel, set up a fare alert at Kayak. You have to create an account, but once you do, you can have the software automatically search for your fare every day and report to you when the price drops.