1. Have patience. Efforts must be made to get a good price on flights. Don't let that deter you, as saving up to + $ 100 on flights can mean more money to spend on sightseeing, hotel, dining, trips, etc. This means that if you want to travel in the spring, you should start checking prices in late fall or winter. Sometimes there are last minute deals, but more often than not you find the best deals at least 21 days before your departure date.
First thing in the morning (around 9am, and in the evening, after 6pm) I like to browse the travel websites to see if there are any offers that day. I also like to delete my search history and cookies, because sometimes websites and airlines that travel remember your search and this could lead to higher prices.
My favorite website is Skyscanner. One of the great features of this site is that you can check what is the best price of the day to travel around the world from the airport you want. For example, I live in Toronto, so I will bring in flights from Toronto (YYZ) to Everywhere. This is a great feature because it will tell me where on that day, what date, month, etc. The cheapest can fly anywhere in the world. (I recently used this site to help you get tickets for your trip to Seoul, South Korea in April. Other airlines charged $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 + for flights to Seoul, but Delta promoted and I was able to get round trip flights for only 850 CAD / 770 USD with exchange rate.)
Another great feature on Skyscanner is that you can specify your destination and travel dates and sign up for "Price Notifications" so it will send you an email if the price is increased or lower for your specified travel dates. (My sister just used this feature to help her get rides to Edmonton, Alberta for May trips. One way ticket prices were around $ 300- $ 400, and she managed to get them for $ 269 CAD.)
Another site I like to use is Expedia. It will daily show travel offers available to top domestic and international tourist destinations. They will also include "Let + Hotel" deals. This helps me feel what the average cost is, for example, traveling to Las Vegas for 4 nights. Let's say the price of a flight and hotel to Vegas for 4 nights on the Strip is $ 500- $ 600 per person from Toronto, I like to try to keep an eye out for deals that are equal to or below this price – I know this as I save money and get the best price.
However, one thing about Expedia is that the advertised price is not always available. If I look at their last-minute flight tickets, I may see return tickets to Miami for $ 250 departing Toronto, but once I click on the contract, the price may increase to $ 350 instead. This is not always the case, but it happens sometimes and is something to keep in mind.
Other sites I like to use are: Kayak, Redtag, Sunwing, Bing Flight Predictor and Airfarewatchdog.
2. Check the airline's website directly. While these third-party travel websites can be great, sometimes the best non-promotional offers are found directly through the airline's website. I recommend signing up for email promotions offered through your preferred airline. For example, since I live in Canada, I am signed up for Air Canada travel promotions. This will show you special offers available as soon as they go to the Air Canada website.
I really wanted to take a weekend trip to NYC with my sister last February to celebrate her 21st birthday. In addition to checking third-party websites, I would also play around with dates when entering a trip to Air Canada. They didn't advertise this contract, but I was able to find direct flights with return flights from YYZ to LGA for $ 199. It was a lot of things that I so gladly found myself through Air Canada. Sometimes the Airline website will offer promotional codes, so it's worth a look.
3. Check departures / arrivals from alternative airports. This is not always convenient, but sometimes many larger cities have more than one airport or have another airport in close proximity to another city. For Toronto residents, we have Pearson Airport offering domestic and international flights and Billy Bishop Airport offering select flights within Canada and the US. There is also the option of crossing the border and landing at Buffalo Airport. It's almost always cheaper to fly from Buffalo airport than Pearson or Billy Bishop. But the downside is most (if not all flights) are direct and you will have to pay for parking as most people leave their car at the airport while traveling. Flying from Buffalo is always a last resort for me, because it's a 90 minute drive from Toronto (you have to consider the cost of gas), and depending on how long it takes, parking costs can bring that discounted flight to or around the same cost as flight, that it flew from YYZ or YTZ. However, sometimes you have significant savings when flying from Buffalo, which will definitely pay you off. (When I handled corporate travel at my previous job, there were often last minute trips and if a group of 2 or more needed to travel to the US, flying from Buffalo saved the company upwards of $ 300-600 + per flight ticket.)
This can be said not only about the departure airport you choose, but also the arrival airport. For example, when flying to NYC, there are basically three airports you can choose to come to: LGA, JFK, or EWR. Sometimes you can get a better price when arriving at one airport via another. However, travel from the airport to your hotel should be kept in mind. If you go by public transportation, you can reach Manhattan from the LGA for only $ 2.50 when you take the bus and subway train. However, at EWR, it is a little more expensive to go to Manhattan because you have to transport New Jersey transit and then switch to Manhattan transit system. If you are taking a taxi, fares to Manhattan airport may vary. This is an important thing to keep in mind and I recommend you do your own research before traveling.
4. Follow the airlines and travel websites on Twitter (social media) and sign up for their mail. One great feature of social media is that airlines can use this to advertise special travel promotions through specific outlets on social networks. Sometimes the airline will offer a special promotional code through its Twitter or Facebook page, which is not advertised on other sites. West Jet is offering Blue Tag Thursdays, which is a special promotion only offered on Thursday afternoons (unless they have another special run during that time). You can find it on their website or watch it advertise on their Twitter or Facebook page. When you sign up for third-party email addresses or the airline's website, they will sometimes send private promotional offers to their subscribers that give you secret access to their sales.
5. Don't be afraid to book your flight and hotel specifically. Sometimes you can get great deals on sites like Expedia when you are packing your vacations and booking flights and hotel at the same time, but this is not always the case. If you see a great deal on the flight, book it now, don't wait! You may find a cheaper price at the hotel later. I also recommend that if you really see a large amount of flight, book it now and not wait later in the day. Let's say you see a large amount of flights to San Francisco in the morning, but wait until you get home from work to buy tickets, it may not be to your advantage.
To give you an example: I grew up in San Francisco and was looking for flights to come back and visit (this was in October 2012), but they were about $ 600 and I wanted to wait for a better price. A few weeks later Delta sold and was offering flights from Toronto to San Francisco for $ 437. This was an incredible price considering I had seen $ 600 + in previous weeks so I didn't wait around and buy tickets right away. Later that afternoon, I checked to see if the deal was still active and the price had risen to $ 600. I highly recommend booking when you see that the price you consider is a big part, as it may be gone before you think.
Sometimes if you book flights from multiple cities, it may be more cost-effective to book them separately than going with the same airline. For example, last summer (June 2013) I wanted to fly from Toronto to Las Vegas, then from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and finally from Los Angeles, back home to Toronto. I spent about a month and a half checking the prices daily to get the best deal. I was finally able to get sales through Air Canada for flights from Toronto to Las Vegas and from Los Angeles back to Toronto. I was waiting to book an American domestic flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because Air Canada apparently didn't offer it and the prices were around $ 100 then for that one-way flight. About a week later, I was on Southwest.com and saw that they had a $ 49 “getaway” contract for the flight I needed from LAS to LAX. That was great, so of course I booked right away. My entire multi-city plane ticket cost $ 515 in total. (YYZ for LAS and LAX for YYZ cost me $ 466 and a flight southwest from LAS to LAX cost $ 49).
6. Know what time of year and what days are the cheapest to fly. Traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday is generally cheaper than any other day of the week. (In general, mid-week flight search also provides the best deals). From experience, I also find that Thursday and Saturday can sometimes offer the best price. Of course, this does not happen all the time and you will need to experiment with dates, which is why Skyscanner is great for deciphering which day is the cheapest to go and return to. The days that are most expensive are Monday, Friday, and sometimes Sunday. Airlines know that most business trips take place Monday through Friday, which makes it more expensive to go on a Monday and return on a Friday. However, business travelers started flying on Sunday instead of Monday hoping to get a cheaper fare, but that doesn't always work. Getting the cheapest departure date of the week depends, of course, on the flexibility of your travel dates.
The time of year also helps. It is usually cheaper to fly to Europe in the off-season and in the shoulder season (late fall, winter and early spring). Last year (2013), my parents traveled to Paris in April for direct return flights with Toronto-based Air Transat at CAD 671 apiece. This is not the best price I've seen, but it was definitely the best deal during non-stop return flights. Traveling during the off-season or shoulder season is not always negative. Sometimes because of bad weather you do not want to travel out of season, but for the most part the off season is less crowded and offers better prices.
I find it now (early spring) a little more expensive to fly to Las Vegas (about $ 400- $ 500) because most people like to go there during the spring time before the weather gets too hot in the summer. (I compare this to the air deals I saw last winter for about $ 350.) It's always wise to check what events happen during the date you want to travel to a specific destination. Sometimes a vacation or a large conference meeting can increase prices. I always suggest determining the average cost of flights to your desired destination, and then watch how the price varies.
7. Save money on your luggage. Most airlines now charge $ 25 for each way you check your luggage. And they will charge you extra if your luggage exceeds the airline's weight limit. You can avoid this by packing light and ensuring that your luggage does not cross the border (check with the airline to confirm the weight limit and the price of the luggage received). Also, if you are traveling on a shorter trip, consider sharing one checked luggage bag with your travel partners. This can save you $ 50 on travel expenses, as it costs $ 25 for every way you check your luggage.
If you are going on an even shorter trip (weekend trip), just think about carrying your luggage and forget about a checked bag. Most airlines will bring a small amount of liquid to your plane. If you're just going on a quick weekend trip, you might only be able to escape with your bag. I did this for my trip last month to NYC. I went to my local dollar store and bought a small travel bag made of clear plastic packaging. This allowed me to bring shampoo, conditioner, face wash, night / day cream, foundation, etc. They also included stickers with stickers so I knew what everything was. I realize it's not practical for everyone, but for a two-night trip, I'd rather spend $ 1 for a travel bag in Dollars and then $ 50 for a check bag. It also saves me the hassle of waiting to pick up my checked-out bag in case of luggage.
8. Buy travel / health insurance. I always recommend getting travel or (extra) health insurance for your trip, but sometimes it may not be the best price for you to choose the insurance package your airline offers when booking flights. Typically, work insurance offers you some type of travel or health insurance while traveling. Talk to HR about this if you are unsure. You can also buy insurance at your bank – this is where I find the best rates. This will also be economical in the long run in your plan and travel multiple times throughout the year. (Instead of paying for insurance every time you book a flight, you can get through your bank or alternate place of the year for a fee.) If you are over 40 (or have a history of health issues), you recommend purchasing additional health insurance (you are already covered by business). Unfortunately, we can never predict what might happen during the trip, and if, God forbid, anything happens, you'll be happy to buy additional health insurance. This is something that is unique to every person so I cannot tell you what is the best option, it is something that you need to talk to HR, your bank and your family to see which is the best choice for you.
9. Avoid paying for seat selection (if you can). Some airlines ask for an extra fee for choosing a seat in advance, sometimes this is included in the price – if this is the case then great, but if you have to choose a seat in advance I would pass. You can usually check in early (24 hours before departure) and make your seat selection free of charge. You may be able to get the places you wanted and maybe not. It's a hit or miss. If you do not want to sit down or want to take the risk, then avoid paying an additional seat pre-selection fee.
10. Take advantage of travel rewards programs. There is so much competition between airlines and credit cards these days, so sign up for their travel rewards programs. Talk to your bank and see which travel credit card works best for your needs. Many allow you to collect points on your daily spending so you can redeem them for free flights. Some of these credit cards have provisions, such as just that you can book flights through your bank or there are travel dates in black. But given the huge amount of travel rewards credit cards on offer today, they are getting better and you can find one that does not contain any of these provisions. This means you can use your points to redeem your flights anytime, anywhere. Sometimes these cards come with a slight annual membership fee, but the rewards themselves are worth it.
The same is true for programs that often fly airlines. The more you fly with one airline, the more often you will collect flying numbers. This works great for business travelers because while their company pays for their travels, they can collect frequent flying points so they can use it for their personal travels. Some companies even allow employees to book their flights and then submit reimbursement certificates. This allows the employee to get points on their credit card for travel rewards in addition to frequent flyer points.
Hope these tips will help you book your next vacation or trip. Keep in mind that these tips have worked in my own experience but may not work for everyone. The main thing to keep in mind is that the key to getting the best deal on your flights is to have patience and be flexible with your travel dates.