WHEN TO FIND BEST AIRFARES
If you’re planning a trip to Britain (or anywhere else), brace yourself for current airfare prices. I remember well when we could fly New York to London, round-trip coach, for $250! What glorious days those were. Now we may spend $1200 for the same ticket. Ouch! There are, however, methods to employ to find the cheapest fares.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
Obviously, buying airline tickets for low-tourist season, in the late fall, winter, and early spring, offers lowest airfares, with the exception of the Christmas holiday. (Generally, the travel industry considers "off-season" November 1—March 14, excluding December 13-24.) Not everyone, however, rejoices at the idea of a winter travel. Fortunately, there are additional tricks in the bag for capturing lower ticket prices.
LENGTH OF TIME BEFORE PURCHASE
An analysis of global airfare data by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) has revealed that nowadays, one cops the best prices to Europe by buying airline tickets about 23 WEEKS (nearly 6 months!) in advance.
Here are the conclusions of the Expedia/ARC analysis:
Optimal Booking Times
DAY OF THE WEEK TO PURCHASE TICKETS
The day of the week you purchase your ticket can also impact the price. Travel experts have this down to a science. Years past, the cheapest tickets became available for purchase on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. EST, but now, more recent data shows the best time is on weekends, with Tuesdays being a close second.
DAY OF DEPARTURE
To get the lowest airfare, depart on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday, (and avoid Monday, Friday, or Sunday departures.) One needn't be Sherlock Holmes to figure out the reason for this, right? Because the majority of people want to leave for a trip on Friday after work and return on Sunday in time for the new workweek--or leave on a Monday, at the start of the business week—seats on those days are scarce and expensive. If your departure dates are flexible, you can keep a few extra pence in your pocket!
SIGN UP FOR AIRFARE ALERTS
All of the major travel sites on which you can purchase airline tickets--e.g., Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia--offer airfare alerts. To set up an alert, just pick a destination and the top price you're willing to pay, and if the ticket drops to that price or lower, you'll receive an email.
CLEAR YOUR BROWSER'S COOKIES
Before perusing travel sites for airfare deals, clear your browser's cookies. I've heard that such sites save their very best deals for new customers, hoping to snag them, lulling them into believing the site always offers such fantastic prices. So clear your search history and cookies before browsing the travel site--or search incognito.
SEARCH AIRFARES EVEN AFTER BOOKING
Surprise! Surprise! Most airlines and travel sites allow you to cancel your airline ticket within 24 hours of purchase with no penalty fee--read the fine print. If you find a cheaper airfare after booking, cancel your old reservation and re-book a new one.
BE WARY OF GROUP PURCHASES
Airlines offer only a certain number of seats at rock-bottom prices. If you purchase tickets for a large group (or even a family), your purchase may require more discounted seats than the airline has available, and you may receive a price reflecting only higher-priced seats. Therefore, it may be cheaper to buy tickets individually rather than in bulk. Check the individual price to make a price comparison.
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