1. When booking airfare, check Kayak first
This travel search engine allows you to compare and contrast prices on different airlines and gives you a good idea of what you should expect to pay. After you check Kayak, check the airline websites directly. Sometimes certain flight paths don’t come up on Kayak. Discount airlines like Southwest and Jetblue also don’t always come up, so I recommend going directly to their websites to check fares too.
2. Try to travel on Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday
It’s simple supply and demand. Not as many people travel on Saturday (people tend to plan their trips over a weekend) or mid week so the fares are cheaper. The most expensive days are Friday, Monday and Sunday.
3. Book flights just after midnight, preferably mid week
Flights that have been put on hold during the day are released after midnight and airlines typically raise their fares on Fridays. Lower cost airlines often try to undercut the bigger airlines and a fare ware ensues with fares being dropped to their lowest point on Wednesday. The cycle starts again the following Friday.
4. Sign up for a “few” travel websites
If you’re not careful your entire inbox could be flooded with so called travel deals so I advise you not to go too crazy. Picking a few key sites to subscribe to, however, can help you snag great deals on hotels and airfare. We like Travel Zoo, Jetsetter, Groupon Getaways, Hautelook Getaways and Southwest Ding fares, an application you can download onto your desktop that alerts you when Southwest fares drop.
5. Always try to book direct flights
Even if it costs a little bit more, it’s worth it. Just think about it, having to catch two flights doubles your chances of having something go wrong. If you fly direct, the only place you’ll potentially be getting stranded is at home, or your destination, no nights in the Atlanta airport or hotel rooms in Phoenix because, of all things, a fluke rainstorm.
6. Avoid long lines at security by traveling mid-day
This is my own observation and may not be very scientific, but I find traveling mid-day to be the most hassle free. Early morning always seems to be the busiest when both business travelers and those going on long trips seem to descend on the airport. Your chance of delay increases later in the evening. Remember though, during the holidays, all bets are off.
7. Wear heavier clothing items onto the plane
I must confess, I have aspirations of becoming a more efficient packer. I’m a work in progress, but during my travels I have learned one thing, wear heavier items like boots, leather jackets, etc…on the plane (that is, unless it’s a redeye and your wearing your jammies). You’ll look fashionable, most boots are pretty easy to get on and off, and this allows you squeeze more into your luggage
8. Make sure to get your miles
Sign up for the mileage plan on the airline you fly the most and, when not cost prohibitive, fly that airline. Now in the days of non-glamorous flying, where even chips cost money, and your packed in like sardines, there are many perks to racking up miles at a particular airline. I just achieved Silver Medallion status on Delta. That means no more bag fees, free upgrades and I even get to go in the short line at the ticket counter, (not security yet, but one day). Like always, earning miles also earns you free flights and airlines have so many partners these days you’ll be able to use them up somehow.