You should be flexible with your travel dates to find the best fares.
Some of the best offers are only available on specific days (often, Tuesday to Thursday or from Friday evening through Sunday morning), or at certain times (for example, late night departures). It applies to all of your flights and not only the first one on your itinerary. Ask the reservation agent, after you receive a quote for a flight, if there are any ways to save more money. You could fly a day later or earlier, or take a different route on the same date. Ask the agent for the lowest price and how to get it.
During holiday seasons, discount seats are “blacked-out”. You may be able get a discounted fare by flying on the actual holiday (e.g. New Year’s Day).
Try to plan as far in advance as possible.
Few seats are reserved by most airlines on popular flights. Most of the best deals are sold out quickly. If a flight does not sell as much as anticipated, the airline may make additional discount seats for that flight available just before the deadline. If the lowest fare requires a 21 day advance purchase but it is already sold out on most dates and you are able to travel at any time, you should ask about availability of fares for flights that depart 21 or 22 calendar days after you make your call.
Plan ahead, but if you’re patient you may find a “fare-sale”. Many airlines offer seats at a discount for a short time several times per year. (You can still buy tickets weeks or even months after the period of sale has ended.) These sales are difficult to predict, but they usually occur at times when people tend to be less inclined to purchase airline tickets. Early autumn, or immediately following New Years.
When calculating the price of a flight, always check for alternate airports or routes.
The cost of a ticket in a big metropolitan area can vary depending on the airport that you choose. If you’re going to Southeast Florida, and you plan on renting a vehicle, the ticket cost may not be much different if your flight is to Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale. A connection flight (changing planes) and a single-stop flight are sometimes more affordable than nonstop flights.
Also check out low-cost carriers.
Check out all the airlines serving your market, even low-cost carriers with low fares. Many major airlines will match the low-cost carrier’s fares between two cities, but this is usually only for a limited number of seats per flight. Find out exactly what is included in the price of a low cost carrier: meals, luggage transfers, advanced seat assignment, etc. Small airlines may only have one flight per market and will often not change your route if you are delayed or canceled. You may need to wait to fly the following day if your flight is canceled or delayed.
Inquire about any restrictions that may apply to your ticket.
Some of the requirements to qualify for a discount include buying a return ticket, purchasing it a specified number of days prior to departure (e.g. for most fares at least 14-21 days in advance), purchasing your ticket within 24 hour of booking, spending the night on a Sunday, travelling during a specific time of year, or staying for no longer than 30 consecutive days.
If you have to cancel or change your flight, ask about the possibility. You cannot expect a refund if you are sick. Most discount tickets are no longer refundable but they can still be used to purchase other tickets with the same airline. When you make this change, there is usually an administrative fee and the difference in fares between your old flight and the new one.
….. Offers, Charter fares, Promotions, Discounts,
Use a travel agency. They usually don’t charge any fees (they receive a commission by the airline) and can provide you with information about consolidators and other discounted sources that may not be available from airlines directly. Consolidator seats may have more restrictions, especially if your flight is delayed, than airlines own deep discounts. Some travel agents have special offers with certain airlines (discounts or additional services). Ask the agent if Public Charters are available for popular destinations such as Las Vegas, Hawaii or other foreign countries. Charters can offer cheaper fares but with restrictions. You should carefully review the contract between operator and participant.
A travel agent can tell you if your city or destination is a “hub” city. If so, the fares will be higher because there is less competition. If you live near a hub, it may be cheaper to leave from another city nearby even if the connection is through that hub.
You can sign up for e-mail alerts from a number of airlines to be notified of specials and last-minute fares on departures in the coming days. You can find out more about this program by visiting the airline’s website or calling their reservation line. Do not presume that a travel agent or airline agent is aware of the special fares for e-mail subscriptions.
Most airlines give a senior discount on any ticket to passengers over a specific age. Some carriers also offer bereavement or emergency illness fares, with different documentation requirements and discounts.
Ask if you can earn frequent flyer miles by purchasing a deep discount or promotional fare.
You may want to contact the airline, or the travel agent, once or twice prior to departure in order to confirm reservations and to check on the price. Some airlines refund you the difference if the fare drops before your flight. You have to ask.