17 Airfare Secrets for Scoring the Cheapest Flights

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"Golden rules" about buying cheap flights, like booking domestic flights 57 days before the departure date, are no longer valid, as there has been a huge shift in the travel industry in what days were thought the cheapest to booking flights. If a study has not been conducted recently, or only one year ago, do not put too much faith in it; there's no reason to worry about booking a flight far in advance. The stellar tips below are current.

1. Flexibility is Everything
The more flexible you are, the much cheaper flight deals you can book. Here's a new way of doing things: Instead of deciding where to go next, choosing dates, and then searching for the cheapest possible flight tickets to certain destinations on those particular dates, consider first selecting your destination and dates based on the best going deals available. By exercising greater flexibility where you travel and the specific dates you fly, you will have a far better opportunity to find cheaper airfare.

2. Book First, Think Later: Cancellation   
Take complete advantage of the free 24-hour cancellation window while purchasing flights. Because of the Department of Transportation's strict regulations, any flight booked to or from the United States could be canceled without worry of incurring a penalty, for 24 hours after the flight's reservation; it must be booked no less than one week before the flight's departure. What this means is that if you buy a flight and the ticket price drops within 24 hour window, you could cancel the original flight and purchase the new, less expensive one.

Warning: the 24-hour rule can only work for flights directly bought with the airline or with booking engines such as Priceline.

3. Set a Price Alert
You can choose emails or push notices to your cell phone which will tell you exactly when the flight you are interested in has increased or decreased in price. This may be a great way for getting the best possible price on a certain flight. You can do this on the majority of search travel sites and OTAs. Why miss out on potential easy savings?

4. Buy in Foreign Currency
Because regular fliers travel abroad now and then, you could switch the currency on the airline's website to determine if the price would be listed in other monies.

You can save big this way. For example, if an airline increased the flight price in US dollars but not in Indian rupee, you could book flights at half the price! But this may require altering either the location or language on the airline's website; or you may change to the home country's URL, where ticket prices are generally cheapest by searching in its local currency.

5. Sign Up for an Airline's Travel Rewards Credit Card
One of the smartest ways to take full advantage from travel credit cards is to use the hefty sign-up bonuses. For example, if you sign up for a new travel card when the airline is offering unusually high quantity of bonus miles, you could score yourself literally thousands of dollars worth of reward points by just opening the card.

Although several of these travel cards could have higher annual fees, a big sign-up bonus may amount for months or even years worth of free flights!

6. The Best Time to Book a Flight
Even though you might see great deals flashing on your computer screen for international airfare three to six months out, if you are flying during peak times, or perhaps your plans are not very flexible, it's smart to begin searching sooner.

This does not automatically mean you ought to purchase tickets when hitting the 6-month window; hold on till you find a good deal. And, just ignore the old advice that travel experts often repeat regarding booking the cheapest flights at 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday; that used to be true but now airfare prices are updated often and great deals could pop up any given moment when least expected.

7. Utilize Momondo to Ensure You are getting the Best Flight Price
Upon finding what you imagine to be the cheapest flight wherever, try searching on Momondo; it will search dozens of OTAs; bear in mind that it may not display the cheapest fares seen on large OTAs and Google Flights.

8. Fly During the Low Season
Have you ever scanned flight prices from the USA to Europe's insanely popular cities in August? Surpassing quite easily $1000.00, they can frighten seasoned and expert travelers alike.

But are those the same ticket prices in February? Flying from major hubs in USA to Europe, you could often locate roundtrip flights throughout the winter months for less than $400 or even $300!

9. Fly Basic Economy
A basic economy flight ticket could save you money, if you do not require checked luggage or advance seat selection. Pay only for what you need.

10. Search for Free Hotels and Stopover Tours
Whenever an airline imposes a lengthy layover because of its very tight schedule, the airline will usually offer a free STPC, or stopover paid by carrier, which can include a free tour or hotel room as well.

11. Enroll in the Airline's Loyalty Program
If you fly one particular airline often, join its loyalty program in order to earn points each time you go anywhere. Then, you can redeem such points for upgrades or flights in the future. If you accumulate enough miles and achieve a considerable status with the airline, you might receive free upgrades.

12. Skiplag to Discover Hidden-City Fares
Hidden-city ticketing happens by booking a flight to a place beyond your final destination, and then end your flight on the layover city. This could save you a ton of money on last minute trips.

13. Prolong Your Layovers
Sometimes only by extending a layover a few days in another city in-between, you can score a cheaper flight to your original destination.

14. Don't Overlook Sales
Airlines are frequently offering amazing deals which you may jump on fast enough and save yourself hundreds of dollars on your next flight. Sign up for your favorite airline's newsletter to be on top of their latest flight deals.

15. Focus on Flying Across the Ocean Very Cheaply
If you are thinking to visit a distant location, it could be less expensive to book one ticket to the main hub, and then a second ticket from there to your final destination. For example, if you wish to fly to Alhambra, Spain, it's probably cheaper to book one roundtrip flight from your home to Madrid and a second roundtrip ticket from Madrid to Alhambra than it would be to buy a ticket to Alhambra on one itinerary.

16. Don't Overlook Destinations with Low-Cost Carriers
Carriers such as Frontier, AirTran, and Southwest all drive down airfares along their routes. So, it may be quite wise to travel a bit longer to a larger airport with low-cost carriers, because even major carriers flights will most likely be cheaper.

17. Avoid Friday, Sunday Flights, & Traditional Travel Days
This may mean going away before and returning later than usual, or even flying exactly on the holiday. Pelletier, the travel specialist, says you can save up to 50% by simply flying Christmas Eve or Day. She said: "We saved $300 per ticket around Thanksgiving for our family of four by flying out the Saturday before Thanksgiving and coming back the Saturday after. Not everyone can swing that with their work schedules, so my advice is to leave Thanksgiving day and return on Saturday for cheaper fares."

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