Now the good news: it’s never too late to save. Here’s how.
1. Look for weekend getaway deals
Not so long ago airlines would routinely slash a sizeable number of unsold last-minute fares to fill up empty seats. They don’t have to this anymore thanks to computerized systems that control capacity to keep seats filled (or close to it). But there are always a few unsold tickets or distressed inventory and you can find these deals on a few airline sites (including American and United). Look for weekend deals or getaway specials.
Caution: These deals are not the ‘steals’ of yesteryear though prices are pretty decent. Tip: popular destinations sell out quickly
2. Choose the right destination
If you’re not wedded to a particular vacation venue, several U.S. cities are good deals this summer thanks to lots of airline competition. Consider giving these a try:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- Washington D.C.
There are also good deals to several cities in Europe this summer:
3. Fly the cheapest days
On most routes, the cheapest days to fly are the most unpopular days to fly: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. It’s a bit inconvenient but that’s why it’s cheap.
4. Fly late in the season
Beginning Aug. 25, the price of many airline tickets will take a dive, dropping from 10 to 30% because that’s when kids are back in school and demand drops. Call it a late summer Deal Zone which extends into early November; fly it and you will save money.
5. Compare non-stops with connecting flights
Depending on the departure/destination cities, skipping the convenience of a non-stop in favor of a flight with a stop (or two) can save as much as 50% or more. Again, this isn’t true for every route so be sure to compare prices for non-stops vs. connecting flights every time you shop.
6. Always compare airfares
If you think Spirit always has the cheapest prices, think again; ditto for Southwest and Frontier. The truth is no airline always has the best fares so if you don’t compare prices, you might pay too much. Sometimes way too much.
Bonus Tip: Always use a carry-on bag
Want to save a fast $50 in baggage fees? Use a carry-on, free on most airlines (exceptions: Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit). I’ve been using carry-ons for years now and even took one on a ten day trip to Europe. So did my wife. It worked out great for both of us.