Everything seems more expensive these days, and airfare is no exception. Airlines are declaring bankruptcy, merging or simply going out of business, yet prices keep going up. And while it’s expensive to book one ticket, when you’re planning a family vacation it can seem impossible to find rates within your budget. This selection of tips and tricks used by travel professionals will help you make your next flight your cheapest one yet.
Dynamic Pricing Defined
Dynamic pricing is a tactic used in a variety of highly competitive industries today. It was pioneered by the airline industry to both realize higher profits and ensure full flights. With dynamic pricing, the incremental price changes may be very small or quite significant. Prices change frequently in response to how sales are going and how competitors are reacting. Dynamic pricing is why the same flight you researched an hour ago is now more or less expensive.
Tips and Tricks
Customers used to rely on travel agents to find them discount airline tickets. Today, most people act as their own travel agents, scouting out the best fares and booking their own flights over the Internet. These tips and tricks can help:
- Shop very early or right before you fly. With this strategy, you are less likely to fall victim to dynamic pricing fare increases. When you shop early, the airline can’t yet predict how well seats for your flight will sell so they will still be reasonably priced. When you shop right before you fly you can take advantage of last minute discounts on unsold seats. An unsold seat is income lost forever once the wheels leave the ground.
- Be flexible in your travel dates or departure/destination airport. A great strategy for finding the best possible deals is to shop a day or two before or after your preferred departure and return dates. Because fares tend to be higher Thursday through Sunday and closer to holiday dates, being flexible with your travel dates can net you significant savings. Also, you may get better fares by selecting an international or national hub for the airline rather than an out-of-the-way destination or regional airport.
- Shop around and use discount websites. One of the best ways to find lower fares is to compare prices. Don’t jump at the first reasonable fare you see, assuming you won’t find better one. Use that fare as your benchmark while you continue to shop. Be sure to shop on websites that advertise “discount” or “cheap” fares since often these websites have their own business strategy that allows them to offer lower fares. Some of these websites allow you to fly on two or more carriers, which can net you a lower overall fare price.
- Use frequent flier miles and be aware of fees. One way to save money is to join the frequent flier club for every airline you fly. Merchants you regularly patronize, including credit cards, utility companies, rental car agencies and hotels sometimes offer matching frequent flier points for the carrier of your choice. This way, your points add up more quickly and you can redeem them for a free flight. Also, be aware of fees. One of the biggest increases in flight costs comes through checked bag fees. So consolidate your luggage, and if at all possible, try to carry your luggage on board. Airlines don’t charge for luggage carried aboard your flight. Best of all, if they have to gate-check your bag because they run out of space, you won’t get charged for that either.
If you use these tips and tricks you can look forward to future travels fully knowing you have found the cheapest fare and can spend your savings to enjoy your trips.