One of the most difficult things to do is finding the best rate and knowing when to buy your plane ticket. This post is for full fare tickets not using loyalty programs or credit card point systems.
There used to be the rules of “Always buy on Tuesdays and fly on Tuesday or Saturdays”
The “Always buy on Tuesday” rule was for back when airlines would publish their rates and seat sales generally on a Tuesday. However with the global competition in the airline industry it has become more of a random time than ever before. Another driving factor for this is the real-time data that airlines have available to them to help predict the demand and to lower prices on routes not keeping up.
TIP #1 – Knowing when to travel is key! The best rule of thumb is to look at the school schedule for the area in which you are traveling as well as where you live. When kids are in school that is generally the lower season.
Edmonton; Sept 4 school starts, Nov 10-14 Remembrance Day, Dec 22 – Jan 6 – Christmas Break, Mar 23-31 Spring Break. During these times parents are more incline to take time off if they can and go on a trip.
This also works for Feb 16-24 for Reading Week, the University version of spring break. Do not expect a cheap deal flying South during this week! Also for some cities such as Miami, Cancun, Panama City, Daytona Beach expect large crowds and the average age to be around 21-22.
Some theme parks have crowd calendars such as isitpacked.com that offer the ability to see the historical crowd levels on that given day. From my experience it is fairly accurate. These also help when planing a flight if you intend to go to say Disney or Universal.
TIP #2 – This one is a great resource! Use the Hopper App, it allows you to search your route that you wish to travel and then gives your recommendations based on the historical flight prices.
For example: I search YEG to LHR, the app then displayed a calendar with colour coded dates. Green=cheapest, yellow=more expensive, orange=even more expensive, red=really expensive.
Once you click your tow dates you wish to search, it will then display the cheapest rate available and its recommendation. In this example the middle image states that I should book now as the price is expected to increase.
The image on the right shows that if I wait the price is expected to drop about $101.
TIP #3 – Google Flights!
This option allows you to search flights using Google Maps. You enter the dates when you want to fly and where you are flying from and click search. A map shows all the airports and the lowest price that Google can find at that time.
This is a great option if you are looking for a getaway and don’t really care where you want to go. I have used this to get great deals to Orlando for $300 round trip from Edmonton (usually $650-$800).
I also use it for looking around the other airports in the area, for example; with Los Angeles you can go to LAX, John Wayne or Burbank. Sometimes with a connection you can get a way better deal.
One down side to Google Flights it that it will not always list all the airlines in the area. Southwest Airlines for example does not allow their fares to be listed. This is the same in Canada with Swoop. Most low cost airlines make you go looking for their fares on their websites. I will be doing a separate post on ultra-low cost airlines in the future.
I also use this to budget for bigger trips involving multiple cities and airlines.
Basically it comes down to the more flexible you are with your travels the better deals you will be able to find and who knows maybe an adventure along the way.
What are your hacks for finding the best deal? Let me know, I would love to hear them.