Boulevards & Byways

How to Find the Best Flight Deals

Tourism is starting to rebound and many of us are considering traveling again. Finding the best flight deal is oftentimes the most daunting task of planning a trip. How do you get the best deal on airfare? What is the best day to book a flight? How do you go about the planning process? Here are some key tips that will answer those questions and help you find the best flight deals when booking your next trip.

Airlines determine flight prices based upon the time of the year, demand, time of day, day of the week, fuel costs, and competitor pricing. They use sophisticated computer algorithms which means you’d need a crystal ball to try to predict when a flight price will go up or down. While there isn’t an exact day of the week or time frame to book airfare, there are smart steps you can take to help find the best flight deal for your trip.

Plan ahead for best flight deals

As the departure date approaches, it’s rare that airline tickets get cheaper. Generally, tickets purchased 6-weeks to several months in advance will most likely be less expensive than purchasing them 2-weeks before.

My advice, plan and research flights in advance. Sites like Hopper provide an easy four-level, color-coded visual of a month at a glance. Users can peruse the most and least expensive days of the month to fly, as well as those in-between. It’s one of my most-used apps, and for me, the best site to find cheap flights while planning a trip.

Consider seasonality for best flight deals

Flying during holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Fourth of July results in a higher flight price. Consider flying after a holiday, not during the peak. Summers too, are oftentimes considered high-season because kids are off from school. Be aware of major events and popular festivals that may be occurring at your destination during the time you’re flying, because those flights will be costly. To find the best deals consider flying off-season, discussed in more detail below.

Fly off-season for best flight deals

As a general rule, the United States has a three-month high season (June through August), a five-month low season (November through March), and a four-month “shoulder season” (April, May, September, and October). Airfares will generally be cheaper during the low season as long as it’s not around a holiday or for a ski trip to Aspen in December.

Be flexible for best flight deals

The differences in flight prices vary day to day, and within each day. Flying early morning or on red-eye may not be the most convenient, but it will certainly be the least expensive. Mid-week versus flights on the weekends will generally be less expensive too.

Book flights on Tuesday

There are rumors that the least expensive day to book a flight is on a Tuesday. Some experts claim there is no validity to this statement. I however have found, on a few occasions, lower prices on Tuesdays than on other days.

Do your research for the best flight deals

Finding the perfect airfare is no easy task. It takes time and research. Aside from researching seasonality and the best time of day to fly, if you’re not set on visiting one particular destination, there are numerous sites like Google Flights and Skyscanner to help research the best flight deals to destinations all over the world. Who knows, you might find yourself traveling someplace exotic or someplace you never thought you’d be able to afford, for a trip of a lifetime!

Mix airlines

Research return flights from other airlines. Sometimes you can save considerably by mixing and matching airline carriers. There’s nothing that dictates that you have to fly round-trip on one airline.

Book fast for best flight deals

I’ve searched for flights at 8 am and by 2 pm the price increased for the same flight. Oftentimes airlines offer a set amount of seats at a less expensive cost, and when that block of seats sells out, the price rises. When you find a flight that meets your criteria, be ready to book immediately.

Download apps & subscribe to newsletters

If you think you’ll be traveling with a particular airline or two, go ahead download their app and subscribe to their newsletter. They oftentimes provide deals and special offers to subscribers.

Use points

Acquiring points for every mile you fly with an airline rewards credit card will help save on future flights. Jet Blue is my favorite and it is the only credit card I use for all my purchases. It has saved me hundreds of dollars on flights and I can use points for car rentals and hotels, too.  

Search in private browsing mode

Some experts say there is no validity in searching for flights in private browsing mode. I believe these “experts” are the ones that for a fee, they claim they can get you the best flight deal. Perhaps they just don’t want the public to know their secrets. However, based on the cookies in your browser, flight prices do increase when a route is searched repeatedly.

I say give it a try and search for flights in private browsing mode and see if it makes any difference.  Clearing your browser history of all travel-related searches and deleting cookies from the search engines also ensures there is no trace of your travel intentions. This may help you get the most affordable tickets as travel sites will not be able to see that you have visited their pages before.

Use a VPN

This is another tip that some say has no validity. However, prices of flights change according to the country or region you are in, so using a virtual private network (VPN) service or app when booking international flights, I’ve been told, might result in a less expensive flight. I haven’t tried this yet, but if you have, let me know how it worked out.

Monitor flight prices & set push notifications for best flight deals

Hopper, Google Flights, and Skyscanner all provide options for receiving push notifications when flight prices drop for your desired date range.

I was following a flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico from JFK, New York. The time frame was during Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta in October when flights are expensive.  I set an alert for that with my favorite airline carrier and was able to get a great deal by booking four months in advance. My tickets are half the price of what they were when I was looking to attend that event two years ago. 

This is a perfect example of how you can find flight deals by planning ahead, doing research, setting alerts, and booking fast! Follow the tips above to find the best flight deals when booking your next flight. Good luck and safe and happy travels!

Be sure to check out our recommendations for things to do in New York State.

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Boulevards and Byways provide copywriting, social media, and marketing-related services for tourism bureaus, hotels, restaurants, as well as travel-related services and products. Their sister company, Write Choice Marketing, provides fundraising consulting, copywriting, and strategic planning services for nonprofits in the Hudson Valley and NYC areas.

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