Have a lot of cash to spend on your next vacation? Awesome! After you’ve sent some my way, these tips for booking the most expensive airfare are for you. For the rest of you, carry on your day…wait! This post is written in jest so please stick around and read on.
I’m frequently asked for tips on finding the cheapest airfare and thought I’’ flip it with these tips for booking the most expensive airfare. Look, I know there are times when booking what seems to be the highest priced airfare are going to happen but you don’t have to make a habit of it.
Be the Ultimate Procrastinator
The magic formula for booking the cheapest airfare remains as mysterious as the ingredients of McDonald’s special sauce. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Cheapair.com recently released research stating the magical time to book the best fare is 54 days in advance.
If you happen to miss that magical date, there’s still hope to get a decent fare. Booking within two weeks of departure, chances are you’ll be booking an expensive airfare. The sooner you begin planning the healthier your travel budget will be. Some experts say Tuesdays are the best day to book airfare while another study indicates Saturdays and Sundays are the best.
If you’re born to be a procrastinator, register for airlines’ enewsletters. Many will deliver last-minute deals into your inbox so if you’re sent an email on Monday about a great fare to Dublin departing on Thursday, grab it and go.
Book without Research
If you’re happy with just visiting your favorite airline’s website and booking your flight at first glance, you’re probably paying too much. Do your research by using aggregate websites such as Kayak or Expedia to see which airlines have the lowest fares. When I do this I then typically visit the airline’s site directly to see if it has the cheapest airfare.
I also visit the airport’s website to see which airlines fly there. Airlines such as Southwest and Allegiant aren’t indexed with in the flight aggregators’ systems so I check their websites directly.
Speaking of research, pitch your geography knowledge out the window and think the only two places that exist in the world is your point of departure and final destination. Did you know Chicago has two airport options? And not far is Chicago Rockford International Airport in Rockford, Ill.? Or, if planning a visit to Niagara Falls, U.S.A., you can book a flight into Buffalo Niagara International Airport or you can fly into the nearby Niagara Falls International Airport. Of course there’s New York with John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airports.
Low-cost carrier Allegiant offers nonstop flights to and from secondary and tertiary cities. When I fly up to Buffalo to visit family, I have flown from Punta Gorda Airport into Niagara Falls and saved. Before planning your trip, see if there’s a secondary airport you can fly into and compare fares.
Practice Fuzzy Math
While a carrier like Allegiant offers discounted airfare, before booking that trip take into consideration all the fees associated with your flight. What’s the distance from your house to your departing airport? What’s the fee for checked baggage? Is there a fee for carrying on your luggage or a fee for a seat assignment? Do you need to pay for a soft drink?
Although we’re not paying to use the mile-high toilet (yet), some airlines do charge a fee for the basics/extras so it’s important to consider all the costs. Over Christmas, I compared flying Allegiant into Niagara Falls vs. flying Southwest into Buffalo. That time, Southwest won because they don’t charge a fee for two checked bags or carry-on luggage. Since I was bearing gifts for Christmas, being able to check luggage was important.
Refuse to be Gumby
Okay, this will be a difficult one because not everyone has time these days to be flexible with their travel days but if you have that luxury, rather than flying on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, try a Tuesday or Thursday. Weekend skies are typically full of vacation travelers while business travelers frequent Monday and Friday flights. If you fly during a low-demand period, chances are you’ll score a better fare. (Oh, and Gumby refers to that green ball of clay turned into a fun children’s character. He’s flexible…get it? Okay, moving right along…)
Be a Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All
Planning your first overseas trip and think you can book the best fare online? Don’t be so sure. Honestly, I’ve had the best success in booking overseas trips with a travel agent. I’m not necessarily going to say booking with an agent is the cheapest way but it provides the best value. Travel agents are experienced at what they do and the longer they’ve been in the industry the more travel contacts they’ll have.
In addition to your flight they can take care of booking hotel stays, rental cars and activities. They have the insider’s edge and can sometimes connect you with little bonuses other travelers don’t have access to. A travel agent will also be there in case something goes wrong with your travels and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, something will go wrong someday.
Disrespect Your Investment
Travel insurance is a waste of money. Not! For most basic domestic trips I don’t purchase it but on bigger trips like my trip to Dublin last fall or to Alaska several years ago, I protected my invested with travel insurance. Granted, chances are better than not things will go according to plan during your vacation but there will be that time you’re thankful you made the small investment.
I’m so glad I purchased it when I traveled to Afghanistan several years ago. Due to a flight delay in Atlanta (bird in the engine), my flight was late departing which made me miss my connection in Paris for Dubai. That caused me to miss my connection to Kabul. Thanks to insurance, I received reimbursement for my hotel stay and meals during my unexpected stay in Dubai.
It’s easy to book the most expensive airfare but with planning, research, flexibility and utilizing your resources you can save and find the cheapest flight. Booking at a great fare means you’ll have a little extra cash to spend during your vacation. Use it to purchase a souvenir to remember your journey or spend it on an experience such as a nice dinner or enjoying a really amazing attraction. Or, take that money you’ve saved and apply it to your next vacation.
What tips do you have for booking the most expensive airfare?