Finding the best airfare prices has gotten much easier than in years past.
We’re going to show you what we think are the best ways to get the best airfare prices, how far in advance you should book to get those prices, and which websites to visit to book your flight.
To get the best airline prices, I recommend you:
- Book 4 months to 3 weeks before your trip
- Use an app that checks for and notifies you of price changes
- Be flexible with travel dates if possible
- Use a VPN when checking prices
- Use a private browsing window when booking your flight
- See if landing in a nearby city or airport is cheaper than landing at the primary airport
- Avoid flying to a city when a convention or big event is occurring
- Try not to fly during major holidays
We’ll get into each of these in a minute.
What I want you to take note of is something that we didn’t say that many other websites promote.
These other websites will tell you not to fly on Sunday or Monday because the airfares are more expensive.
That might have been true way back in the day. In in the modern era, it isn’t necessarily the case.
To prove my point, take a look at the following screenshots:
In our first example, you’ll see that flying out on Sunday, August 7 is actually cheaper than any other day that week!
The same is true for Sunday, August 21st. Thursday, August 25 is the same price as leaving on Sunday the 21st.
Since Monday was also listed as a bad day for flying, let’s review another example.
Monday, August 1st lists a price for a flight that is the same price as leaving on a Tuesday or Saturday.
And the Monday price is cheaper or the same price as other days during this week.
What does this prove?
That the old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t book a flight leaving on a Sunday or Monday is just that – a tale.
I’ll show you some websites to check out to get your pricing. Some you’ll know. Others might be new to you.
In any case, look at calendar on these sites to determine when the best day to fly is based on price. Not some old, outdated formula that probably was never true in the first place.
Now that we’ve given you the basics of what to look for, let’s go into detail to explain why we think this is the best course of action.
Steps To Ensure You Get the Best Price
You may already be familiar with some of these things to get the lowest airfare possible.
Because of having this knowledge, I want to explain the reasons “why” these are recommended. Understanding “why” something is true can help to ensure you won’t be taken advantage of.
Book 4 Months to 3 Weeks Before Your Trip
This is a good one to explain why knowing the reason behind an action is probably more important than just knowing to “do it”.
You might be thinking that you should book your flight as early as possible. Maybe even close to a year out if you know when you’ll be traveling.
I’ve tried doing that. And the prices are way, way, way overpriced. There’s no incentive for the airline to lower the price for a flight that isn’t happening for almost a year.
Therefore, you can expect the price of the seat to be ridiculously high.
However, there is a case to be made for booking this far out.
If you’re very tall like me (and by very tall I mean REALLY tall – 7 feet), you’ll want to pick the best possible seat for you.
Booking this far in advance will ensure you won’t be crammed into a seat that will make your flight uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, when it comes to booking a flight almost a year out, it works just like other things in the consumer market space.
Want to be the first with the newest, hottest cell phone? You’ll pay the “early adopter tax” – that is, you’ll pay top dollar with no discounts.
The same is true for cars. The hottest, most anticipated vehicle is not going to come with a discount. Because there’s no reason to discount the vehicle since people will pay top dollar anyway.
The same is true when getting your seat on a flight. If you want the luxury of booking the best seat in the house, it’s going to cost you.
How Early Should You Buy Plane Tickets?
How early you should buy your plane ticket depends on a few factors.
For example, if you’re an average-height person, picking a special seat may not be that important. For you, price might be the priority.
If so, you can wait until your travel date gets a little closer and save some money.
To give you an idea of how much more or little you’ll spend depending on when you book your flight, here’s a chart outlining the differences:
|Timing||Days Before Trip||What to Expect|
|Too Early||202 days to 116 days||Ticket prices are about $20 more|
|Ideal||115 days to 21 days||Tickets will probably be lowest they’ll be|
|Still OK||20 days to 14 days||Price might still be good. Seating gets limited|
|Pushing It||13 days to 7 days||Ticket potentially $135 cheaper than waiting last minute. Seating options severely limited|
|Probably Too Late||6 days to 0 days||Prices can be on average $220 more than if booked in ideal window. Severely limited seating options|
The season that you plan to travel also factors into when you should buy your ticket.
Here are some recommendations of how much in advance you should purchase your airfare based on seasons:
- Fall: Buy tickets 69 days in advance
- Spring: Buy tickets 84 days in advance
- Winter: Buy tickets 94 days in advance
- Summer: Buy tickets 99 days in advance
Again, this isn’t a hard and fast law. Just a rule of thumb.
Other factors that should be taken into consideration are:
- Where you’re flying to
- How popular that destination is
- Is it that destination’s busy season?
This might sound like a lot to manage.
So this seems like a good time to talk about the next subject.
Use an App That Checks for and Notifies You of Price Changes
This is probably the best way to make sure you get the best price.
Most likely, you know far in advance when you’ll need to book a flight.
But as we said earlier, getting your pick of seats on a plane is going to come at a high cost.
To get around that, I recommend installing an app that keeps track of airline prices and alerts you when there is a change in price.
There are a number of apps out there that will do it, including those provided by the airlines themselves.
I personally wouldn’t recommend the ones provided by the airlines. But again, it’s just the way I feel. Kind of like the fox watching the hen house.
For that reason, I’ve listed some of the apps in both the Google Play store and the Apple App Store that might suit your needs.
There are two that I particularly recommend:
That should do the trick to get you the best airfare.
However, there are other ways to make sure you get the best price on airfare.
Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates
I’m certain you’ve heard of this one before. But it would be irresponsible of me not to mention it.
If you’ve ever used a website like Priceline or Kayak, you’ve seen that prices can change drastically between one day and another.
In fact, if you look back at the screenshots earlier in this post, you can see how much money you could save just by traveling one day earlier or later.
Assuming you have this flexibility with your travel dates, you might be able to save hundreds of dollars.
Use a VPN When Checking Prices
This is one you may not be aware of that you really need to know about.
I’m sure you know about cookies – trackers that websites drop into your browser to monitor things about your online activity.
One of those things is your location. And depending on where you are, you might get charged more than someone living in another location.
That’s where VPNs come in.
A VPN (or virtual private network) can make you look like you’re in one location when you’re physically in another.
(Tip: When traveling abroad, you should ALWAYS use a VPN for security. It’s also a good idea to use when traveling away from your home area even in your country if you’re checking bank accounts or other identity-sensitive websites.
Your bank might think someone has hacked your account if you check it from the Caribbean. If you use a VPN, you can set it to a city that is closest to where you live. Then when you connect to your bank, you’ll be able to check your account and the bank won’t think someone has hacked your account.
I recommend our affiliate partner VPN Proxy Master. Not only will you get 3 months free if you use this link, you can have it running on 6 devices at the same time. And with 6,000 servers globally in over 50 countries, you won’t have to worry about stability or speed.
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When you use a VPN to look for airfare, you can adjust where the website thinks you are and potentially save hundreds of dollars on your flight.
Watch this video from Linus Tech Tips where he shows just how much you could save for a flight from London to Denver just by changing locations using a VPN.
Use a Private Browsing Tab
The recommendation to use a private browsing tab is for the same reason I recommended using a VPN.
It’s all about those cookies.
Have you ever been on a website booking something – a flight, a cruise, hotel, car rental – and you leave the page to check on something?
When you returned, the price you originally had was then higher than when you first looked.
If this has happened to you, it’s because of those cookies. The website knows you were checking out a price. But you didn’t pull the trigger.
Almost as a punishment, the page will refresh and the price will be higher.
To get around this, use a private browsing window.
It does use your personal information while you’re using the website. But when you close that browser window, it deletes everything that it stored.
Now when you go back to the page, the website thinks it’s your first visit. And you won’t get penalized for not taking the price they gave you when you first visited.
To open a private browser window, do this based on your operating system:
- Click the 3 vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner
- Select “New Incognito Window”
Using Microsoft Edge
- Click the 3 horizontal dots in the upper right-hand corner
- Select “New InPrivate Window”
- Click the 3 lines stacked on top of each other in the upper right-hand corner
- Select “New private window”
- Go to Preferences. Then click General.
- Click the “Safari opens with” pop-up menu
- Choose “A new private window”
- Click the 3 vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner
- Select “New Incognito tab”
Using Microsoft Edge
- Select the box in the bottom bar with a number (shows the number of tabs open)
- Select the InPrivate tab
- Click the plus symbol at the bottom of the window
Using Safari on iPad
- Open Safari
- Touch and hold the tabs button
- Tap “New Private Tab”
Using Safari on iPhone
- Open Safari
- Tap the Tabs button
- Tap Tabs to show the Tab Groups list
- Tap “Private” then Done
Land In a City Near the Primary Airport
This is a good option if you’re traveling to a city or region with multiple airports. By landing in an airport close to your target airport, you can save a good amount of money.
Some cities/regions that have multiple commercial airports include but are not limited to:
- Long Beach, CA
- New York/New Jersey
Other areas might have a large commercial airport with a smaller commercial airport.
One that comes to mind is North Carolina. You could land in Charlotte or Raleigh. But a smaller airport in the region is PTI – Piedmont Triad International airport in Greensboro, NC.
PTI is just over one hour away from the Charlotte and Raleigh airports. So if you were planning on coming to either Charlotte or Raleigh, you might be able to save a few dollars by landing in PTI and going to your destination.
Look for opportunities like this in the area you’ll be traveling to and you might be able to save on your flight.
Avoid Flying to a City When a Convention or Big Event Is Occurring
This tip applies when you plan to visit someplace that is known to host conventions.
The first obvious one that comes to mind is Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is going to have conventions all year long. But some are particularly known to boost prices of both airfare and hotel rooms.
Other cities/regions that will experience higher airline ticket prices would be New York and even Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona hosts the Mobile World Congress – the convention where all the mobile phone vendors showcase their new products.
If you notice prices skyrocket for a few days then drop back down, you can probably be sure that there is some kind of major event happening in your destination city.
Try Not to Fly During Major Holidays
This one is kind of obvious. But it needs to be said for those who may not have considered it.
We’ve all seen the lines at airports in the days before and after Thanksgiving, New Year’s, Christmas, and other holidays.
And you can be sure that the airlines are charging as much as possible because they know people will be traveling during that time.
If you can avoid flying during the holidays, you’ll be able to save quite a bit.
There is one catch where traveling on a holiday might actually get you a discount on travel.
My job required me to travel from Philadelphia International Airport to Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thanksgiving evening, of all times.
I needed to be at our data center in Alpharetta, GA right outside Atlanta the next day.
As a result of the last-minute flight, the cost was extremely low.
What’s more, I was literally the only passenger on that Delta Airlines flight.
I picked a seat in the back of the plane to save money. But after we took off, the flight attendants told me I could sit anywhere I wanted because no one else was on the plane.
Now, it is true, that was pre-COVID. But play around with days and times to see where you can save money.
Websites to Compare Airfare Prices
Now that we’ve discussed the things you need to be aware of when booking your flight, we need to give you those websites I promised so you can compare prices.
If your travel plans will take you out of the country and you need your passport quickly, check out this post on how you can get your U.S. passport renewed the same day.
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