Unless it’s a road trip, the first thing you’re going to need to begin your journey is a plane ticket (there are other options, but let’s stick with this one for now). To get from home to some far-off location, you are going to need to put your trust in a tin can whizzing over land and sea at a speed of over 300 kilometres per hour. And it’s going to cost a pretty penny.
But, have no fear – you can find a less expensive option if you try hard enough. It often takes a lot of luck and great timing, but there are some things you can consciously do and websites you can regularly scour to find the cheapest choice.
The most important thing to do is search, search and search. Don’t stop until you find a price you are content with. You need to be checking booking websites (some provided later on) and individual airline carrier websites at all times of the day, every day of the week. You never know when cheap tickets will be released. One key time to especially check all websites is just after midnight EST on weekdays as this is when airline databases are typically updated and cheap, returned tickets may be re-released to the public.
The day and time you choose to fly are two more important factors to consider. Never, ever fly on the weekend (unless, of course, you find some rare last-minute deal); Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are usually the best choices. Try not to fly within one week of any holiday. Don’t forget to check both major holidays and local holidays and festivals for the location you are visiting.
Leaving early morning or late evening may mean more jet lag (but don’t forget to follow my advice on that), buy it can also result in a reduced price tag. Flights with more and/or longer layovers are also usually cheaper. If you don’t mind sitting around in an airport for anywhere from three to ten hours or stopping three or four or even five times, these flights may be for you.
The next thing to think about when hoping to purchase a less expensive plane ticket is location. The location you are flying from and the location you are flying to are equally important. Sometimes it may be less expensive to bus (or even better, catch a ride) to a different airport. For example, flying from Calgary, Alberta, is often much cheaper than flying from Edmonton, Alberta, even though the two cities are less than 300 kilometres apart. Be as flexible as possible with your travel plans. If you are planning on going somewhere like Europe—where the countries are smaller and closer together—consider flying to London instead of Edinburgh, Amsterdam instead of Brussels, Paris instead of Madrid.
Another factor that many travellers fail to remember is luggage. Every airline has different restrictions regarding weight, size and number, and every airline has different charges associated with going over these restrictions. Most airline carriers restrict checked baggage to only one piece that is no heavier than 32 kilograms and no bigger than 158 centimetres in overall dimensions. As mentioned, however, each airline is different, and it is important to check all of their regulations before booking a ticket—and especially before packing.
Finally, one last thing to consider is purchasing a last-minute ticket. It does airlines no good to have dozens of empty seats on an airplane, so they will often try to sell as many of the remainders as possible for greatly reduced prices within days of take-off. If you are flexible on your date and time of departure, airline and airport, exact destination, and number of layovers and connections, you could get some spectacular savings. Although it does occasionally turn out that you will get your ideal flight and ideal time for your ideal price, you should prepare to be inconvenienced.
You are almost ready to book your flight! Check out the following booking websites for some great flight savings!