Expensive airfare can be the largest hindrance preventing people from traveling. By utilizing technology, plane tickets can be more affordable.
Here’s how I save money on plane tickets.
The sooner you book your travel, the lower the rate.
Traditionally, the target booking window is 50-70 days before your flight to find the best prices. The only exceptions are spring and summer breaks when the ideal time to book is 90 days out.
Pick affordable days
It’s proven that Tuesday and Wednesday are the most inexpensive days to fly while Sunday is the most expensive. Holidays and other seasonal circumstances can also affect pricing, so it’s best to book around those periods when possible.
For example, it’s expensive to go to Paris from the United States during the summer and fall. I got a non-stop ticket from Chicago to Paris on United for about $350 in February 2018. It’s not the most popular time to travel and it was cold, but the ticket was very inexpensive and lines at attractions like the Eiffel Tour and Notre Dame were incredibly short.
Use Google Flights (but clear your data or use an incognito browser)
Google Flights is my favorite tool to compare airlines and rates. It will automatically calculate each leg of your journey and I like how you can sort flights by the number of layovers, etc.
If you use Google Flights or any other travel website, be sure to clear your data or use an incognito browser. Web pixels track purchasing behavior and are designed to slightly increase the price and show competitor flights at higher rates to incentivize a quick decision.
(Note: Southwest flight information doesn’t appear on Google Flights, however.)
Fly from a major city
If you live in proximity to an airport like Chicago O’Hare, JFK, or LAX, flying from international airports can lower costs significantly.
Even connecting here can be more affordable than a direct flight in the U.S. from the airport closest to you.
Stay loyal to an airline and/or use a travel credit card
Choosing one airline will help you familiarize yourself with the best rates, times to fly, and allow you to accumulate rewards.
If you use a travel credit card like Southwest, Delta, or Capital One, points can accumulate pretty quickly.
To get to Europe and the Middle East, I use my Southwest points to fly from Chicago or Indianapolis into JFK in New York. From there, I’ve found one-ways to London as cheap as $100.
Subscribe to Next Vacay
If you have a flexible schedule or want to travel but need some inspiration, I highly suggest you subscribe to Next Vacay.
Next Vacay is a database that scans for cheap flights based on your “home” airport. You set 3-4 airports that are closest to where you live and Next Vacay will email you with inexpensive deals to destinations around the world with links to actually buy tickets. It takes a lot of guesswork out of travel prep and in my opinion, pays for itself.
This is how I found my inexpensive roundtrips to Iceland and Paris in 2018!
In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten emails with deals from Columbus to Hong Kong for $575, Cinncinati to Amsterdam for $450, and Chicago to Bali for $800 – and these are all-round trips!
Have an idea of standard ticket prices
The more I travel, the pickier I get about ticket prices.
For example, I’m not impressed by round trips to New York from Europe for $500+ when I know that I can probably find something cheaper from Chicago without having to use my flight points or spending the time to get from Indianapolis to NYC.
The way I see it, round trips from the Midwest to major cities in Europe like London, Paris, or Zurich are reasonable if priced $400-$600. It’s an incredible deal if you can find a round trip like this for $400 or less.
One ways to Europe from New York are reasonable for $200-$300 but are especially good deals if you can get $200 or less.
And any flight from the Midwest or East Coast to Asia for $1,000 or less is always a great deal IF they are nonstop or have one short layover.
Any more than one layover on a flight that’s more than 10 hours gets tiresome and it’s worth it to me to spend a bit extra to avoid sitting for hours in airports.