Air travel is a necessity for many people but can get extremely expensive. However, a few tips and tricks can help reduce the costs and keep your domestic business trips affordable — or let you keep more of your vacation budget for adventures at your destination.
The number-one tip for finding the cheapest fares on any flight is to book seats as early as possible. For instance, as of this writing, a flight with American Airlines from Nashville, TN, to Norfolk, VA, departing on a Friday and returning the following Sunday costs $212 if booked within two weeks of the trip. However, scheduling the flight one month in advance reduces the fare to $162 — a $60 discount. Clearly, planning ahead pays off!
However, a cheaper fare is not the only benefit of booking early. Airlines frequently overbook flights to ensure that all seats are filled even if each flight has a few no-shows. If a flight is still overbooked at departure, or if, for example, flight crew unexpectedly need to ride along, and not enough fliers volunteer to give up their seats, some passengers may be bumped from the flight involuntarily. Bumping often occurs on a last-on, first-off basis, with the latest-booked seats most likely to be bumped. Hence, by scheduling early, you are more likely to keep your seat in the event of an overflow.
The day of the week you choose to fly out can also influence the price of your ticket. Due to the popularity of weekend travel, Fridays and Sundays are the busiest, and therefore most expensive, days to fly; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, however, tend to be cheaper. Let’s return to that weekend in Nashville. Again, a round trip from Norfolk to Nashville departing on a Friday and returning on a Sunday costs $212 with American Airlines, but rescheduling the departing flight to Thursday reduces the price to $178 — a reduction of more than 16 per cent.
If your trip is for basic necessity, a discount airline may be for you. Discount airlines, as the name suggests, emphasize price and efficiency over luxurious amenities and include Jetblue, Southwest, and Allegiant. For example, a round trip from Norfolk to Nashville, departing Friday and returning Monday, scheduled well in advance, may cost $211 with American Airlines but $185 with Allegiant. However, discount airlines may also have limited dates, times, locations, and seating — another reason why booking early is the best bet.
While the above three factors are the most important for determining the price of a flight, other special circumstances can result in cheaper seats. Finding the best price for your flight can take lots of research, but travel booking websites can help do it for you. Sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia aggregate information from airlines across the country and can help you find the cheapest flight for your chosen date and time, along with hotel reservations and resorts. These sites can give discounts for package deals (of a flight and hotel) that are less expensive than both would have been by themselves.
However, these large sites may not list smaller or discount airlines. If you already have a hotel deal (or aren’t booking a hotel at all) and just want help finding the cheapest flight, CheapFareMart may be more helpful. CheapFareMart is a travel-booking site that specializes in getting you the lowest price for your flight. Click here for more information about CheapFareMart, and check out their website to browse all sorts of deals on domestic and international air travel.