12 Cheap Flight Hacks To Know Before You Book Your Next Trip
by Maggie Dickman
Before you book your dream getaway , there are plenty of hacks you should know to make booking that much easier (and cheaper!). Here are our 12 tips to make planning your trip a breeze.
Know When To Book
After analyzing close to 3 million travel itineraries last year, CheapAir.com found that booking 54 days out was the best time to buy domestic tickets, with 53, 52, 45 and 60 also being good times to land the best flight deals.
While they explain that prices are impossible to predict, it is almost always true that if you wait too long to book, you’re going to get stuck paying more.
Don’t Be Opposed To Booking With Layovers
Sure, we’d all love to fly nonstop from point A to point B. But in an effort to cut costs, consider booking a connecting flight. Sure, you’ll have to switch planes to make it to your destination, but that’ll just save you money that you can spend once you finally make it to your dream vacay destination.
Check One-Person Flights First
According to USA Today, if you’re booking a flight with your BFFs, it might actually be cheaper to book one ticket at a time rather than in a massive group. To test, check the rate per ticket if you try to purchase as a group, and then go back and check what the rate is for just one passenger. If the single book is lesser, it might just be worth it. Even if you’re not sitting directly next to each other, you’ll still end up in your dream destination together, and that’s all that matters.
Pick A Credit Card That Rewards With Flier Miles
It makes total sense to have a frequent flyer account with the airline you use the most—if you don’t have that, make sure you sign up now! But you can get flyer bonuses from your credit cards you use daily, too.
According to Life Hacker, you should check and see what cards fit your spending habits first and foremost, as you should do with any credit card you sign up for. But you should also check where you’re accumulating points. For example, it won’t do you any good if you’re accumulating points for Virgin if you typically fly American.
Check Every Site
Even if you’re dedicated to one airline or another, it’s always good to check other sites and carriers to see what deals you stumble upon. Sites like Expedia and Orbitz can help you locate deals through their nifty programs, but it’s always good to double check each carrier individually yourself. (Yes, it’s an extra step, but it’s totally worth it.)
Sites like Air Fare Watch Dog also provide good search tools, comparing different flights with different carriers right on your screen. Once again, it’s always good to double check through the flight provider itself before booking, but having numbers to work with is a great start.
Find Off-Peak Flights (If You Can)
According to Cheap Flights Finder, early morning and late evening flights tend to be cheaper than those during prime travel hours. Also, weekends tend to lean on the expensive side of the spectrum, so booking Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, if possible, will help save some dough.
Set Up Price Alerts
Apps like Hopper are making your work easy. While you may have an idea about what’s the best/worst time to book, there are ways to set up notifications to ensure you’re receiving the best deal you can get.
In Hopper’s case, you can mark your travel dates and get the app’s prediction about when your flight will be the cheapest. If they say “wait,” Hopper will keep an eye on your trip and send you notifications when they see the price on your flight has dropped. Now that’s handy.
Check One-Way Tickets First
Booking round trip is a breeze, but it might be worth checking the one-way prices before simply purchasing the easiest route. You’d be surprised to see that it’s sometimes cheaper to book two one-way tickets over one round trip.
Clear Your Cookies
There’s a theory that says the more times you visit an airline’s website, the more likely it is that your ticket price will increase based on the cookies the site uses to track your searches and history. People have been saying for the longest time that clearing your browser’s cookies—or searching for flights in an incognito window—will save you money.
Although that system is nearly impossible to prove, as The Huffington Post explains, it doesn’t hurt to give this method a try.
Dress Nicely For A (Potential) Upgrade
While you won’t need to be dressed to the nines (unless that’s your thing—then go for it!), wearing something more than a sweatshirt and yoga pants could potentially help you score a place in the front of the plane, if one becomes available.
“Presentation is always important if you’re hoping for an upgrade,” Joe Brancatelli, who founded the website JoeSentMe.com, tells The New York Post. “It does not happen often, but dressing better does work on flights where the coach is full or oversold and the airline needs to bump people up after all the elites have been accommodated. I know a woman who got an upgrade to business class on British Airways after she agreed to put on the heels she had in her carry-on bag.”
You Can Cancel Flight Within 24 Hours
You may or may not have heard this before, but you have 24-hours after you book a flight to cancel or change your ticket, even if it’s non-refundable, Thrillist explains. That means that if you see the price for the flight drop, you can cancel and re-book for the cheaper rate. Here are United and American‘s more specific requirements for canceling. You’re welcome.
“Hidden City” Ticketing Is A (Risky) Move
While we don’t necessarily recommend this, it is a way people have been saving money on flights through sites like Skiplagged. So what is hidden city ticketing? Let’s say you book a flight from point A to C, with point B in the middle—but point B is your actual destination. So you get on at point A, get off at point B, and leave your seat empty onto point C.
That seems easy, right? Well, as the Huffington Post points out, it’s not foolproof. If you get re-routed and don’t actually stop at point B, then you’re stuck booking a one-way from C back to B. And if you get caught using the “hidden city” ticketing method, you’ll likely lose all your frequent flier privileges. Like we said—it is possible—but the risk may not be worth the reward.