Ground Rules for Getting the Best Airfare
Before going into the specifics of when to buy each ticket, she shared some basic rules:
Shop on Tuesday mornings. Fare sales are often launched Monday nights, so other airlines have matched their prices by Tuesday morning.
Search how full your flight is. You can tell if your flight is full or empty by starting to buy tickets online and “choosing your seat.” That will show you how many seats are taken already.
Remember it’s a gamble. When in doubt, booking earlier is safer. If you wait, fares could go up or down, and usually fares go up by more than they go down (read: going down $50 vs. going up by $300). Only bide your time if your flight isn’t too full and you know the price is a lot higher than it should be.
Use online tools. Kayak’s “Hacker” tool can help you find two separate one-way flights to make a round trip that saves more money. Kayak also offers a fare chart so you can see trends in the ticket prices, and Bing created a price predictor tool to help you guess if fares are going up or down.
Follow airlines. Some airlines promote one-hour sales on Facebook or Twitter only, so follow an airline for the best deals.
Consider a destination serviced by low-cost carriers. Carriers like Air Tran, Southwest, and Frontier drive down all airfares along their routes. So it might make sense sometimes to drive longer to go to a bigger airport with low-cost carriers, since even major carriers’ flights will likely be cheaper.