When and How To Book The Best Airfare - Ooops, It's Not Tuesday!

So many airplanes. So many options. But, there are only 7 days to travel on…

Years ago, a story broke that Tuesday was the best day to book travel. Now, it’s pretty much the most expensive. A wise source at Hotwire once told me the hotel chains dumps their unused rooms into their system that night, so I should always check then. How times have changed. Someone should just have told me to travel when the business folks aren’t (they are paying top dollar - you shouldn’t).

So how do you book that best airfare? First, the airlines keep getting smarter as profits rise. Turns out though, satisfaction is on the rise too (hey that’s wonderful thing). The OEMs (Orbitz, Expedia, Cheapair, etc) and airlines are sniffing your searches and online behavioral. It’s not all bad, but let’s start with the obvious: don’t search for flights logged into your carrier or in public view. Airlines can change the fares up to 3+ times a day! Here are my tips:

  1. Launch an incognito window in Chrome (if you use it) or simply clear your cache (and yes still use a incognito window)

  2. Check Google Flights and/or Expedia for your preferred flights and routes (don’t close the windows). Hopper is also lovely for monitoring flights.

  3. Run the dates - the cheaper days to travel tend to be Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. But don’t let $50 be the deciding factor in a rate difference if that means you’ll have to stay another night or waste precious vacation time. Time is still your money.

  4. Run the airports - If you live in a major city like LA, explore the different airport options if it makes sense (remember a cheaper flight doesn’t make for a cheaper experience - factor in your time, transportation there or parking)

  5. Before booking on an OEM, now try to go to site direct. So if you found your preferred rate and flight on Delta or Southwest, go to their site and run the fairs again (incognito)

  6. Domestic tickets generally go up within 3 weeks of departure and 2-3 months of international departure

  7. Once you found the flight and price you can stomach, login to your carrier site and book it. Thinking of adding that insurance? Why? You’re probably already covered with your credit card.

  8. If you made an OOPS I DID IT AGAIN (we’ve all booked wrong dates) then you can always cancel free within 24 hours. Only Southwest to my knowledge shows pity beyond that.

When in doubt, simply do your homework as if you were working for the FBI. Use stealth mode, be strategic and try to book site direct vs options like Expedia for flights. Of course, do not forget to run any loyalty scenarios if you have airline miles or vouchers as well as credit card perks.

Travel on my friends. Travel on.

Click here for some light reading on the 2019 Travel Outlook Study.