Break the Insanity: How to Beat the High Price of Airline Tickets

You’ve heard this before, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Clichés aside, it’s time for you to break the insanity of airfare pricing. First some background, then some tips.

Listen: Rick Seaney with more insights to help you save a buck.

What Airlines Know about You Can Hurt You

What do the airlines know about us? Thanks to the millions of people who book flights every day, the airlines have gotten very good at knowing what we want and when we want it. This includes our favorite days to fly, the times of day we don’t want to fly, and how much extra we’d be willing to pay for a non-stop flight.

In other words, airlines know what we’re willing to pay. Turn the tables on them! Use this knowledge  to find yourself to find a better deal.

Fly When Airlines Think You Won’t

It may not be very convenient but it could save you a lot of money.

  • Fly the cheapest days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays usually cost less than all the others.
  • Fly the cheapest times of day: Overnights or red-eye flights and flights at dawn are often the least expensive.
  • Fly the cheapest seasons: Dead zones are great to fly because prices are way down and three of the best are: 1.) the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving; 2.) the first couple of weeks in December; and 3.) the bulk of January and early February (after the New Year’s rush and before Spring Break).

Use Less Convenient Airports

You may have to drive further but the extra time could be worth the savings.

  • Compare fares for multiple airports: If you live in a smaller and increasingly, a not-so-small city, compare prices – from your airport and the one in the nearest large city. If the bigger airport is a hub, you’re almost guaranteed to save money.

Use Less Convenient Routes

If you’ve got the time, you could save some money.

  • Choose connecting flights: Non-stops are far more convenient but adding a stop (or two) to your itinerary could save you up to 60% on airfare, depending on the route.

Choose Less Popular Destinations

Off-peak destinations can mean significant savings.

  • Look for off-season destinations: Examples of cheaper fares include Florida at the end of the summer, popular ski destinations in late spring or early fall, and you can almost always find very good prices to Europe in the winter.

Shop the Cheap Day for Bookings

When to buy? Follow this advice year-round.

  • Shop on Tuesdays: Specifically, shop Tuesday afternoons at about 3 p.m. The reason is simple: Airlines typically launch sales late Monday or early Tuesday and by that afternoon, all the competing airlines have followed suit, dropping prices to match the sales.


Published: February 3, 2014