Combating Airfare Hikes for Summer Travel
Summer vacation is right around the corner and between the third successful airfare hike this year and ever-increasing fuel prices, there's no telling how much a seat on the plane will cost you this year.
Traveling isn't fun if it's going to leave you sad and broke, so instead of giving up and pitching a tent in your backyard for a week or two, here are a few ways to help offset the high cost of airfare.
Buy now. Don't wait for a better deal, because it may not come along. In fact, the longer you wait, the higher the prices will be. Easter is the defining line between good deals and breaking open your piggy bank to pay for a ticket. Of course, they won't immediately be hundreds of dollars more, but they will steadily go up from that point on, so as soon as you see a rate you are willing to pay, jump on it.
Fly on unpopular days. With the number of routes being whittled down, it may be difficult to find an affordable flight, but if you choose to depart on Wednesday, Tuesday or Saturday, then you can save off of regular rates, as these are the least popular (in descending order) days for travelers. By flying on these days, you are less likely to become a victim of the dreaded overbooking, too.
Fly at unpopular times. You can save even more if you look for early morning or late-night flights. There aren't that many people who want to get up before the sun rises to make it to the airport or board their plane at midnight. If these times work for you, take advantage of their unfavorable status and help your wallet stay a little fuller.
Fly into smaller airports. There's something to be said for the convenience of a hub airport, but there's a reason they are hubs. If your final destination is a city that has several smaller airports that service it in addition to the main airport, look to them for lower rates. While it doesn't always work, you may find there's a significant difference. For example, San Francisco (SFO) is a huge hub for the Bay Area, but if you want to save quite a few bucks (and also avoid some potential traffic snafus), then look to fly into or out of Oakland (OAK).
Look for one seat at a time. Ticketing websites aren't as sophisticated as we hope they are. If you are looking for three seats on a route, search for just one instead and you might see a whole world of possibilities open up for you and your budget. If you search for more than one seat, you will only get the lowest price for whichever rate tier has the amount of tickets you are looking for. So, even though there may be two seats available in Tier A and one in Tier B, you will only see pricing for Tier C that has plenty of seats available (and higher pricing).
Even though you may not find a super cheap flight for travel in the summer months, by trying these tricks you stand a better chance of finding something that will work for your budget and get you on that trip you've been dreaming of all year. You'll be happy that you made the extra effort and anyone traveling with you will be thrilled they are getting to go somewhere further than 10 miles from home.
About the Author
Shereen Rayle is author of the blog Shereen Travels Cheap and two budget travel books, including Secrets to Summer Savings. For years she has been planning her own vacations using the Internet to extend her limited budget as far as possible and shares the tips and tricks she has learned, along with useful sites like FareCompare.com, to help others get the most out of their travel dollars. And to further inspire budget travelers everywhere, she finds terrific travel bargains and posts them each day on her Facebook page.