First thing's first about airfare: it changes constantly. Buying a ticket on a Wednesday will get you a different price than a Saturday. Buying that ticket 3 days before you leave will be wildly different than if you purchased 6 months in advance. Interestingly enough, buying as early as possible will not always get you the best rate. So when, in the name of in-flight cocktails, is the best time to buy?!
The "experts" (which would be every article I've read on the internet...at least one of them as to know what they're talking about....right?) say that the best day of the week to buy is Tuesday and the best time to buy is 42 days before your departure. Google "best time to buy flight" and you'll get bajillions of articles giving those two pieces of advice. Personally, if I had an airline and found that this information was available to the public, I'd jack up my prices on Tuesdays, but luckily for you (unlucky for me), I don't have an airline.
|Welcome aboard BethAir!|
Private browsing. I mentioned this in my hotel post but wanted to explain it a little better. Whenever you visit a website, your computer will get a virtual badge saying, "Hey! I've been here!". These are called cookies and they make websites load a lot faster, automatically fill out information or automagically log you in to websites you have visited before. When it comes to flight-purchasing websites, when you visit the site it checks for it's "badge" and can change the prices based on how many times you have visited. I have not personally tested this, but considering it's extremely easy to turn on and off private browsing, I do it anyway just in case it does make a difference.
Price alerts. Kayak, Airfare Watchdog, and FareCompare track airline prices and can send you updates as much as you choose. The biggest thing with using these sites is making sure that 1) You already have the money to buy the tickets, 2) You actually read the emails. If you don't do either of these, then all this price watching is pretty useless. Sometimes the super great deals will sell out and if you don't see that email quickly enough or see the email and realize you can't afford the ticket, you're going to be pretty sad for that prices that got away. Bing Travel now owns FareCast where you can put in your flight and dates of travel and then see a history of its prices as well as a prediction on its future price.
Basically what all of this boils down to is shopping around and keeping up with pricing trends. See how different the prices will change if you arrive/depart a different day. Remember that unless you are traveling with Southwest, there will be baggage fees. Look up how much they cost and add that into your travel plans.
Get all those ducks in a row and go into your flight purchasing well-informed. You may not be able to avoid the awkwardness of TSA full body scan in your travels, but you can avoid the embarrassment of over paying for your flight.
Next time: Miscellaneous travel expenses