Using a travel agent is always your best bet, because they’re an expert in the industry. They spend 40 hours a week looking at different flights and tend to know how to find the cheapest flight quickly. You’ll also avoid unexpected fees, such as baggage fees, because the travel agent will know which airlines have hidden fees. People always ask me how to book the cheapest flights. Apart from the obvious answer of using a travel agent, there’s some tips you can do to book cheap travel.
Understanding how airline pricing works will also help you to have success at booking cheap flights. There’s tons of different myths about when the best time to book is. Some people say 57 days, some people say last minute, some people say you just have to book on a Tuesday morning.
The goal of the airlines is to fill up the plane. They have a set number of seats at a certain price. Once those seats are filled up, the price goes up. This can happen as often as every 8 seats. So typically, you’ll see the price raise as the date of travel gets closer. So the best time to book? Now. Always book as early as possible.
The only time the price will go back down is if there’s an abnormal amount of seats left over as the date of travel approaches. This is not common. Not only is waiting until the last minute a gamble, but it’s also unlikely to work out in your benefit.
I’m not saying that last minute travel will never show you savings. In order for you to see savings with last minute travel, you must be flexible in both days of travel and where you want to go. If you’re fine going just about anywhere, then you’re quite likely to see significant savings by booking last minute. This can be referred to as booking the fare, not booking the destination. However, if you know exactly where and when you want to go, you often will end up paying more money than if you booked early.
If you’re trying to stay within a budget, as a rule of thumb, don’t travel during peak periods. Christmas, Spring Break, weekends and other holidays are all peak travel times. During Spring break, a flight can be twice as much as usual. Travel on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays and go during off-season times. Keep in mind that flying out in the early morning is another great way to save a couple bucks.
People have this assumption that roundtrips are cheaper than two one-ways. This used to be absolutely true, however now it’s far from the truth. Most flights now are just two one-way flights. So booking with two separate airlines can show you significant savings, especially for domestic flights.
If your dates are flexible and you’re still not finding the fare you’re looking for, try checking flights through Google Flights. You can enter two destinations and look at a calendar of flexible dates while it compares many different airlines. You can even enter a departure airport and then explore options all over the world! Google Flights is phenomenal because it will also give you smart money-saving tips, such as if you were to leave a day later, or depart from a different nearby airport. This tool is outstanding and I personally use it every single day.
However, I am going to end this guide by saying that you’d really be stupid not to book through a travel agent. They don’t charge more than if you booked online yourself, but the knowledge they hold is invaluable. They’ll know if a “legal connection time” is way too short for a certain airport. They’ll have tips on saving money. And you won’t be blindsided by random fees. If you don’t book through a travel agent you’re on your own.