More Tips for Cheap Airfares

No matter how many articles about cheap airfare there are, there’s always room for another. Here’s one of the latest. In “8 tips to snag the lowest fare” Karen Aho gives some tips we’ve covered before, such as, check with sites like Travelocity and Expedia for the lowest prices, then go directly to the airline’s Web site. Karen mentions another advantage of doing this. In addition to a cheaper rate, by booking through the airline, you’ll get email messages from the airline.

When seeking out cheap flights, she suggests thinking about how a business traveler might think and do the opposite. Business travelers tend to travel at the beginning of the week and at the beginning of the day or the end of the day, therefore think middle of the week and middle of the day. As Karen points out, this doesn’t always work, but it’s a starting point.

What I found interesting is that you should look well in advance for cheap flights, as in several months if possible. The 21 day advance flights may not have the cheapest seats left. That’s certainly true with Skybus. And when booking, don’t hesitate since thousands of people are seeking out flights at the same time you are. I hesitated on booking Skybus and it cost us $100 per ticket. However, when we went to Florida last December, I assumed flights would be expensive since we didn’t start looking until the beginning of November. I was amazed to find flights for $160 round-trip from Columbus.

Checking alternative airports is also a great strategy. I’ve found this particularly true when traveling to New York City. Between Newark, La Guardia and JFK there seems to be a cheap flight somewhere. The downside is the cost and ease of getting in to and out of Manhattan, but even that is getting competitive.

To see if a fare is going up, Karen suggests checking with Farecast. This site tells what fares will go up or down over a 7-day period for specific airlines. The idea behind this is that you can decide to buy now or wait.

Another strategy that might work is being nice. For example, Karen switched seats twice on an airplane after being asked and was so nice about it that the flight attendant put her in first-class. This strategy also can work on merry-go-rounds. When I took my son to the Ohio State Fair, one woman asked if my son would switch horses so she could sit next to her son. When he switched, she gave me two ride tickets.