How to Find Cheap Flights When Your Flight Dates are Flexible

Editor’s note: We updated this popular post as of Sept. 29, 2014 and loaded it with fresh information and useful tips. One thing hasn’t changed, though – it’ll still help you find the cheapest airfare deals available.

Flexibility is a wonderful thing – especially when it comes to travel. The more flexible you can be, the more you’ll save. [Check out the video below]

LISTEN: More great tips from ace expert Rick Seaney.

See the latest airline sales on the Deals Blog

Flexibility Savings: Shopping and Flying

Follow these six rules to find cheaper airline tickets whenever you want to fly.

1. Shop for airfare on Tuesdays

The cheapest day to shop for airfare is Tuesday about 3 p.m. eastern time. It’s when you’ll find the most airline sales, and the competition will match the sale prices to keep up. Always check prices on an airfare comparison shopping site to be sure of getting the best deal available.

  • Tip: Since many sales often run Tuesdays through Thursdays, waiting to shop ’til Friday or the weekend could cost you a deal.

2. Set airfare alerts

Sometimes, deals come out of the blue (sometimes ‘mistake fares’ do, too) but you won’t know about them unless you sign up for airfare alerts. Get the deals you want delivered in real-time – on your phone or tablet or laptop – the moment they become available.

  • Tip: When you receive an alert – and if you like what you see – book immediately. There is a lot of competitions for the best deals and they go quickly.

3. Fly the cheapest days

Generally, the cheapest days to fly year-round are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Again, always compare airfare prices so you’ll know for sure.

  • Tip: Cheapest days to fly can vary around holidays. Thanksgiving is a good example as the Wednesday before Turkey Day is one of the most expensive days to fly all year.

4. Fly the cheapest times

Be flexible enough to fly when others don’t want to. This includes flights at dawn, flights at the dinner hour and late-night flights and red-eyes.

  • Tip: Noise-canceling headphones are great for napping on planes.

5. Fly connecting routes

Are you flexible enough to endure a longer flight? A connecting flight with a stop (or two) can sometimes save as much as 50 percent over a non-stop.

  • Tip: This is generally not the case when it comes to hub-to-hub flights of 90 minutes or less.

6. Fly out of larger airports

Are you flexible enough to drive an extra hour or two  so you can fly in and out of a larger airport? In most cases, bigger airports have better deals, and it maybe be worth the extra effort.

  • Tip: Be sure to factor in the cost of the extra gas and maybe higher parking prices to be sure a longer is worth your time.

VIDEO: More tips from FareCompare CEO and airfare expert Rick Seaney.

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Updated: November 7, 2014