International airport in Atlanta

I wish I had a dime for every article I’ve read about the secrets to getting low airfare.  There are a lot of theories out there, but from what I’ve read, there are no real answers on how this works.  The prices go up and down and people try to predict why and how.  Here are just some of the things I’ve learned.  This is not an exhaustive study, and is actually an ongoing saga for me as to how I can get the lowest airfare.

1.  Purchase your tickets on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday
Buying tickets in the middle of the week is the best time to buy.  A lot of sources I’ve read agree that airlines actually drop their prices on Tuesdays in order to increase airfare purchasing.  So it’s proven to be one of the best times to buy tickets.  

2.  Set up price alerts

Sites like Kayak allow you to set up a price alert that can either email you daily or weekly with price updates.  You can set the dates, and add that you’re flexible in case there are deals around the time you want to fly that can save you $$.  Another thing you can do is give it a max amount you want to spend.  We set up a price alert when we flew to Barcelona in 2013, and tickets were around $900-$1,000.  One day we got an email and the price had dropped to about $600 a ticket.  We bought that day and nearly saved $800 total on airfare. 

3.  Try different airports
Check out the fares at other airports.  I usually check airports that are within 5-6 hours of driving time from my house.  We saw flights that were $400 cheaper per flight in a city five hours east of us.  If we’re going to save $800, then it’s worth for us to drive and buy a hotel room for one night.  Most hotels also offer long-term parking that is considerably less expensive than the airport parking.  That can also save some money.  It wouldn’t add a considerable amount of time to the trip.  If you’re short on time, this might not be the best option.  But if you have more time than money, check into alternative airports.

4.  Purchase your tickets in the right window of time

The best time to buy overseas flights is 4-6 months out.  The best time to buy a domestic ticket is about 2-3 months out.  My recommendation is to set up price alerts and continue checking how much a flight costs.  Then plan on purchasing during these sweet spots.  In my experience, the price stays relatively the same until these windows of time and then they go up and down a bit before staying up and continue to go up.  So plan on purchasing in this window of time.  The absolute worst time to buy tickets is last minute.  So even if you pay $50 more for purchasing the ticket two weeks early, at least don’t wait so long you end up paying $500 more.

5.  Clear your browsers

According to some sources, websites look at browsing history to see if you’re interested in a certain flight.  Then they boost up the prices right before you’re about to purchase.  I’m not entirely sure this is true, but just in case… you better just clear your cookies and recent history in order to avoid inflated costs on your computer.

Have any of you had any luck finding cheaper airfare?

Nina Thomas

Travel lover and writer

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