Buying airline tickets is becoming increasingly expensive. Many consumers use their favorite low-cost travel sites to save money, but finding the lowest possible fare all depends on when you look. Timing is important when it comes to purchasing flights, and booking months in advance might not be the best way to save. Airfare prices change throughout the week, and looking on the right day at the right time will help you find the most affordable option.
Timing is crucial when searching for the best fares. The sales for airline tickets can vary from day to day -- and even from hour to hour. Sales are based on how many seats are left on a flight, how many similar flights are scheduled during the same time period and the popularity of the destination. When price factors change without warning, it allows airlines to adjust their prices quickly. This quick price adjustment can either be your wallet's best friend or worst enemy.
When to Shop
The best day to shop for airline tickets is Tuesday. For even better prices, it's best to wait until mid-afternoon to book your flight. Many websites and price analyzers have spent time watching the cyclical nature of pricing and have determined that Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. is the time airfare prices are usually lowest. Wednesday is also a good day for purchasing tickets, and passengers can occasionally find cheaper prices on Wednesday than on Tuesday. It's important to know that weekends are the most expensive. If you're looking to score a deal, avoid booking your flight on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Before you purchase your tickets, compare the cost of your chosen flight to those on other airlines and travel sites. You may even want to call local travel agents to see if they can find you a cheaper fare. Opening multiple Internet browsers and checking different sites all at once is typically the fastest way to discover whether another site is offering the same flight at a cheaper price. Or, use price-comparison sites and let them do the work for you.
Confirming the Lowest Rate
Because airfare prices are always changing, it's hard to tell if someone else received a better deal than you. There are travel sites that promise to reimburse you should someone else book the same flight at a cheaper rate, and you may feel more comfortable booking through those sites. You can monitor travel sites up to and until the time of your flight -- but that can become burdensome and time consuming. If you booked directly with the airline, and then notice cheaper fares for the same flight elsewhere, you can ask the airline to refund you the difference. However, the airline is under no obligation to do so.