How to find cheap air fares
Guest Post by Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening
Last September, I made my first air flight in thirty years. Understandably nervous and not exactly flush with cash, I researched air fares thoroughly before buying my ticket. Here are a few general tips I learned:
- The fare will be cheaper if either your departure or your arrival date is not a weekend.
- The earlier you book your flight, the cheaper your flight is likely to be. Given the way oil prices are rising, I’d say this is almost a given.
Websites that will help
If you don’t believe that fares are only going up, you might want to check out Farecast. For the most popular routes, it predicts whether fares are going up or down.
The more difficult problem is picking out the cheapest fare from the plethora of choices. I heartily recommend using Kayak.com for this task. It is a specialized search engine for air fare, incorporating Orbitz and cheaptickets as well as all the major airlines. It lets you try out different scenarios such as different times of the day, different days of the week, and different airports. You can fine tune departure and arrival times. It also lets you save searches and have them emailed to you once a week. That feature enabled me to track the fares to Austin. It started out at $240, went up to $300, went back down to $240, went up to $250, and Sunday night (January 6th) it was back down to $240 and I decided to nab it while I could. With oil prices skyrocketing I really couldn’t imagine fares getting any lower. Since then, the lowest fare has gone back up to $279.
The cheapest kinds of tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. If you want to cancel or reschedule you’re out of luck. So make sure you’ve got your dates and times right before you hand over your plastic. (Note that you don’t actually buy tickets from Kayak. It provides the link to the actual ticket seller, and you go there to complete the transaction.)
While you’re finalizing your flight, open up Seat Guru in a separate tab or window. Find the make and model of your plane, and pick out your seat from the map provided. Notice that problem seats are identified, as are particularly advantageous ones.
Good luck bargain hunting–I hope it enables you to join us!