Insider tips on getting the lowest airfare.
Wondering why you never manage to bag a flight for quite as cheap as the next guy? Pining for a summer getaway but really need to keep the cost down? Then this list of 9 mistakes that the average buyer makes when booking flights is sure to help.
1. You’re Only Checking One Airline
In the days of flight-aggregating websites and airfare-prediction apps, travelers no longer need limit themselves to the prices of just one carrier. So if you’ve always flown Airline X because you think they have the cheapest flights, check again! A new route may have opened up or an airline may have dropped its prices due to competition. Always comparison-shop before you hit that purchase button.
2. You’re an Impulse Buyer
It’s a very bad idea to rush into paying for your flight without exhausting all your options first. That means holding off the “buy” button until you’ve made sure there are no more competitive offers out there — from other airlines, to alternate airports, or to a different destination entirely. Oh, and if you do happen to find yourself regretting that impulsive buy moments after booking, then remember: Most major carriers in the United States allow you to cancel your booking within 24 hours of purchase — for free.
3. You’re Booking on the Wrong Day
Although it may seem a little odd and the savings may seem negligible, choosing the right day to book your flights can actually help reduce the cost of tickets. Hopper’s research has shown that buying on Thursdays (for domestic flights) and weekends (for international flights) offer the largest savings, on average. The data also revealed that it’s much more likely that passengers will be able to bag a bargain by buying on Thursdays for both domestic and international connections, because that’s when the vast majority of routes offer savings. (And that old adage about booking being cheapest on Tuesday? Not always true.)
4. You’re Not Checking Alternate Airports
When it comes to touching down in some of the world’s larger destinations, it’s likely that there will be more than one airport on offer. For example, New York boasts Newark, JFK and LaGuardia; London has Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow, and Washington DC is served by Ronald Reagan National Airport, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International. So before booking, check all the available arrival points and include the cost of transfers into town in your final calculation.
5. You’re Not Being Flexible with Destinations
Perhaps you’re considering a trip to the bubbling baths and industrial beer halls of Budapest, Hungary, but can’t seem to find any bargain air connections into town. Well, a wise traveler would expand their range of choices and look at flights to Vienna, Munich, and Prague, too, all of which are just one manageable and affordable overland journey away from Budapest (especially when budget European airlines offer cheap connections!). It’s always worth checking out prices to alternative arrival points nearby — you never know, you may just discover some other place you love.
6. You’re Not Being Flexible with Dates
Hopper’s statistics have shown that there are some pretty hefty savings to be had on airfares by simply changing up the days of departure and return to suit the trends for particular routes. In general, Wednesdays are the best for travelers to depart, offering savings around $60 on international flights, while Sundays are the most expensive. For returns, Wednesdays are once again the best for international fliers, while Tuesdays come in as the cheapest overall for those on domestic flights. And these are just average savings — your own haul could be much higher.
7. You’re Not Including Taxes and Fees
It’s the same old story: shelling out for a “bargain” airfare because you forgot to add up all those additional fees, airport taxes, and the like. In recent years, the aviation industry has certainly become more transparent when it comes to these extra charges, but there’s still a whole load of potential costs for the would-be flier to consider, from checked- and carry-on baggage fees to fluctuating departure taxes.
8. You’re Booking Too Late
Generally speaking, the modern commercial airline industry does not reward spontaneity. In fact, with rapid and exponential growth in most airfares in the days leading up to take-off, it’s easy to see that — in most cases at at least — the early bird really does catch the worm. So, be prepared and plan your trips with ample time (at least 25 days in advance, according to Hopper research), and you should find your ticket prices are taking a turn for the more affordable.
9. You’re Booking Too Early
While many travelers think the earlier the better when it comes to bagging bargains in the air, the statistics actually speak to the contrary. Often, airlines will lower seat prices at a specific point before departure, all in the hope that the maximum amount of passengers will book for the maximum amount of money. The key is to buy just as carriers start to realign seat prices in accordance with demand (a process known as yield management). It’s a tricky thing but booking at the right moment can offer up potential savings to the tune of hundreds of dollars on some routes. Generally, waiting until 150 days out will save you the most money.
This article originally appeared on Hopper.com. Hopper is a travel app that tracks and predicts airfare prices.