How not to overpay for airfare — 4 tips

Posted By on October 14, 2013

Since I’m looking to bring my son home from North Dakota over Christmas, I figured it might be time to archive a list of shopping tips I copied and saved in a document a few years ago … can’t remember where I found them? I can’t vouch for the current accuracy, but I’m using the 4 tips as a starting point in shopping. (Hopefully experience travelers will be able to update the tips in the comment section below — my friend Steve  is a big advocate for Matrix its Software and as a traveler and aviation expert, he always have helpful tips)

#1: Shop for domestic airfare Tuesdays at 3pm EST. The best day to shop is Tuesday. An airline will typically kick off an airfare sale late Monday. Other airlines join in to stay competitive. Price matching is usually complete by early Tuesday afternoon. Newly discounted airfares hit reservation systems by 3pm EST. 

#2: Don’t buy airline tickets earlier than 3 ½ months before departure. Airlines don’t begin actively “managing” prices until three or four months before departure, and if you buy any earlier than that, chances are good you’ll pay too much. Airlines typically have as many as 10 different prices points on a single plane. Knowing when to buy and when not to buy is key to getting cheap plane tickets.

#3: Don’t buy too early, but don’t buy too late, either. Airfare prices can rise dramatically within 14 days of departure. When it comes to most legacy carriers (which include American, Delta, United and US Airways),  airfare prices can rise dramatically inside the 14-day before departure window; with discount or low cost airlines, that window is usually 7 to 10 days before departure. This is to take advantage of the last minute  business traveler who often doesn’t know his/her travel schedule much in advance and is willing to pay higher prices.

#4: The cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Most people want to squeeze as much time out of a vacation as possible which is why flights on Fridays and Sunday are so popular. However, the airlines know this and they usually charge more for flights on those days. The cheapest days to travel are the least popular days to fly: Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Fly these days and you’ll almost always save on airfare.


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