WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO BUY AIRLINE TICKETS? AN EXPERT SHARES INDUSTRY SECRETS?
These tricks will have you saving major $$$!
You may have your summer or fall trip already planned. If not, you might want to wait until you read this, because when it comes to buying airline tickets, there are different opinions on the best times to get the best fares. Wading through all the (often conflicting) information can definitely get confusing, so we turned to travel expert George Hobica, the founder of Airfarewatchdog, a popular low-airfare alert site. He started the site in 2004 because he wanted to share his knowledge of the travel industry and help people get cheaper flights. We picked his brain, and here are six tips on when — and even if — there is the best time to buy airline tickets.
There Is No Magic Formula
"We have all read predictions from various online sites about the best time to buy airline tickets. Perhaps you've read that booking 47 days before travel is best, or that Tuesday at 3 p.m. is the prime booking time — or maybe Sunday is the ideal day. Don't believe the hype, because when it comes to booking airfare, there is no magic formula. Believe me, I've been doing this for more than 25 years, and there just isn't one particular day of the week or time of the day where you can get the best fares. It depends on so many different factors, and for this conflicting information to be presented as absolute fact is a great disservice to consumers who fall for these 'voodoo' airfare economics.'"
Sign Up for Fare Alerts
"The best thing to do is simply to sign up for 'airfare alerts' by email. Search the term on the web and you'll find many options from reputable companies that send out email alerts, including TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Yapta. Before you sign up, however, make sure that they at least include Delta Air Lines (that excludes such popular apps and sites as Hipmunk and Hopper, along with several others). And if they also include Southwest, all the better (only Airfarewatchdog — shameless self-promotion, yes, but it's true — sends out alerts on Southwest at the exact price that the airline charges)," says Hobica.
"These alerts all work a bit differently. Some only allow you to track specific dates, which is cool except what if leaving a day or two earlier would have saved you hundreds? Some allow you to specify 'to' and 'from' specific airports because a fare from Baltimore Washington International (BWI) might not be as ideal as one from closer-in Washington National (DCA). Most alert systems treat 'nearby' airports as equal, but tell that to someone who doesn't want to trek out to Baltimore or Dulles when National is just a Metro ride away."
The Airline You Choose Matters
"Another factor to consider with airfare alerts and, frankly, it can be quite an annoyance, is that the lowest fares are often on airlines that people hate to fly (because they charge for carry-on bags and seat assignments), so look for a service that allows you to eliminate alerts from airlines you'd never fly even if they were free (Airfarewatchdog does allow airline choice)," Hobica says.
For example, if Southwest has a fare of $198 round-trip and United has one for $148 and you're checking three bags, then Southwest actually has the lowest fare because Southwest charges nothing for the first two checked bags, whereas United would charge you an additional $165 each way for three. You can check our updated Find Baggage Fee Chart here.
Travel Agencies' Prices Can Vary
"Another reason for signing up for several alerts: all online travel agencies do not show the same prices. I recently saw a fare from New York to South Africa on Delta and KLM for $200 less (round trip) if bought on Priceline versus the exact same flights, dates, and airlines, if booked on Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, or on KLM's or Delta's own websites. Some online travel agencies offer negotiated rates that are far less than the airlines themselves sell for. It's worth searching more than one site."
"Twitter is another great source for being alerted to short-lived airfare deals. Follow the #airfarehashtag where over a half dozen accounts tweet out unadvertised deals. The #flights hashtag is also useful. Follow the accounts you find there," says Hobica.
"Once you're signed up or following, you have to act fast. An airfare from LA to Singapore (this is a recent example) might go down, unadvertised, to $398 roundtrip including tax on Singapore Airlines (a great way to fly, as they say), whereas every other airline is charging $800 for the same travel dates. But that fare, even if it's good over several months of travel, might appear for just three or four hours, and then it goes back up to $800. Now that airlines allow you to pay for a fare and cancel within 24 hours without paying a fee, the strategy is to book it, hold it, and then get your friends and family on board and sort out hotels."
"You've probably heard this many times before, but it really is true: Being flexible when it comes to buying airline tickets is essential. As mentioned above, even with travel alerts, you may want slightly different days than what you're seeing but, hey, if it's a great price, and you can change your days, you'll be saving money. Kayak, for example, has an excellent month-by-month flexible date search function. Hopefully, if you follow some of the suggestions I've listed, you'll be well on your way to booking your dream vacation at the right price. Happy hunting!"
To read more on this, go to the following link: http://www.bestproducts.com/fun-things-to-do/a1163/best-time-day-to-buy-airline-tickets/