Finding the Best Airfare Deals

Finding the Best Airfare Deals

We get so many visitors to Family Travel Magazine that are wondering how to get the best airfare deals. Travelers have heard things like “Book on Tuesdays” and “Book at lunchtime”, but those tricks don’t usually work. This week, I set out to book the best price possible for a multi-city trip – and actually put some of the tools that I like to use to the test. Here’s how it worked:

My trip is from Boston to Buffalo, then Rochester to Boston, so it isn’t a traditional round-trip flight. I started by visiting AmericanExpress.com, which usually does a great job of offering airfare deals from most of the different airlines (excluding Southwest, which you can only book on Southwest.com). I found that I could get a great rate of less than $200 on United, but I’d have connections, so I decided to keep looking.

My next stop was Yapta.com, which also tracks airfare rates. It’s a great tool to use if you aren’t necessarily ready to purchase. But my flight is in just over a month, so I don’t have much time to track it. Yapta.com helped me find the best price on direct flights – $258 total. Yapta helps you compare airfare deals, but then forwards you to the airline’s website to book.

Once I got to USAirways.com, I realized that I probably had enough frequent flyer miles for a free flight. Now usually I don’t advise using frequent flyer miles on business trips, because they are tax deductible, but these particular miles are set to expire soon. I was unable to check this multi-city trip online, so I had to call USAirways.

The rep I spoke to informed me that I didn’t have enough miles, but explained that $258 for a multi-city trip was a great price. Also, by purchasing that ticket, I extended the expiration date of the miles I did have. So, I decided to make the purchase, and to save the $30 booking fee, I hung up and went online.

At that point, I got distracted, because I had to take my kids to their tennis lesson. I left my computer and drove out for a few hours. That night, I settled in and searched USAirways for my flight again.

The rate had gone down to $238.

I have no idea why, but I purchased it right away. So, sometimes you can do all of the research, find a great fare, and it’s STILL not the best that will be available. And now, I’m tracking it in Yapta, so if the price goes down significantly (very unlikely), I can apply for a refund.

* Even though it worked out for me, I don’t advise waiting on something you need to book. As it gets closer to your date, it’s likely that the price will increase.

How have you gotten the best airfare deals?

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About Jodi Grundig

Jodi Grundig has loved traveling since she was a little girl. She started blogging in 2007 on her popular review site Mom's Favorite Stuff and after doing quite a bit of travel blogging, decided to launch her own travel site. Jodi resides in Massachusetts with her husband, eight-year old son, nine-year old daughter, and Havanese dog.

Comments

  1. I was a travel agent for a long time and I can generally get a good feel as to whether or not the price I find is going to go down or if I should buy. (Not as specifically as saving $20 if I wait a few minutes, though!) I think that sales may be released on Tuesday more frequently than they are on other days, but that’s not always the case. I rarely pay attention to the day I purchase my ticket as much as the days I’m actually flying, how full the flights seem, how many flights are on the route I’m traveling, and how far in advance I’m booking.

    There’s also sales that happen every year like clockwork. Since I haven’t worked in the industry for a few years, I’m not as familiar, but I remember the Tuesday-Thursday after Labor Day always having a big sale time from airlines. There were always sales to Europe for travel in October, November, and early December. The same happened again in October for travel in January – early March. So, paying attention to when sales happen if you are planning a trip in the future, can help you predict when the sales will happen again.

    A rule of thumb I found to be true, if you’re booking for a popular holiday or three-day weekend, book it no later than the previous holiday. For example, book July 4 by the day after Memorial Day. Book Labor Day air travel no later than the week after July 4. The only exception is Christmas/New Years travel, which should be booked way before Thanksgiving to have more flexibility and the best prices.

  2. Interesting article, I am just looking for multi-destination tickets to NZ and Asia and wondering whether these “book on Tuesdays” or “book after 11pm” tricks work or not. Ann had some good points too, I think at the moment I will be waiting for some autumn sales to kick in, I’ve subscribed to all the airline newsletters I could think of, and hopefully there will be some good deals coming up soon! :)

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