Six Ways to Fight a Fare Hike

Delta recently launched a successful airfare hike, although fortunately for leisure travelers, it targets business passengers (those who buy tickets within seven days of departure).

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But watch out – I expect to see more airfare hikes this year, including several that will affect you and me. And although most are in the range of a few dollars, it all adds up. Last year’s hikes alone brought the average price of tickets up by nearly 5%.

Six Ways to Fight a Fare Hike

There are a few things you can do in the battle against airfare hikes, and here’s a quick review:

1. Know thy Enemy

There are airfare hikes and airfare hikes. The most common is the day-by-day tweaking that airlines do to test the appetite or demand of travelers. A true airfare hike can often be an across-the-board hike of a carrier’s entire route system or it can target a specific ticket time frame or traveler like the latest hike from Delta, but a hike must also have the support of other airlines to succeed. If competing carriers don’t join in, the hike fails – simple as that.

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2. Know the Best Day to Shop

Based on my analysis of vast storehouse of historical and current airfare data, I’ve determined that Tuesday is the best day to shop and the optimal time is right around 3 p.m. eastern.

3. Know the Cheapest Days to Fly

The cheapest days to fly in the U.S. are Tuesdays and Wednesday, and Saturday is your next cheapest choice. For international flights, the best time frame is usually Sunday through Wednesday.

4. Know Your Airports

Some airports are cheaper than others, but it depends on the airline and route. Take New York as an example – sometimes LaGuardia is cheaper, while another time JFK or Newark will have better prices.

5. Know When to Connect

Don’t just compare airfares – compare fares on connecting flights vs. non-stops. Sometimes a less convenient flight can save you as much as 60%.

6. Know When to Fold ‘Em

If prices are too high for you, you can shut your wallet. Trust me, if enough people feel the same, the airlines will get the message – and prices will come down.

More from Rick Seaney:

When Ticket Prices Go Crazy and What You Can Do


Published: February 28, 2013