Flight booking is not as easy as it may sound and it has CHANGED when it comes to best practices.
There are now MANY airlines that compete with each other and because of this plus the power of technology, the competition is fierce! So let’s look now at the FIVE NEW RULES for booking flights.
1. The buy-on-Tuesday rule is NOT TRUE
The idea that you can save money on plane tickets by purchasing them on Tuesday is one of the biggest myths around booking travel according to the travel pros. While in the past, there might have been some truth to ‘buying on a Tuesday’ when airline employees managed prices by hand and made decisions early in the work week, now — with computers managing pretty much everything — that rule no longer holds water. In a recent study it was shown that Tuesday is only the cheapest day of the week to buy airfare for 1.6% of all domestic routes.
While there is some predictable variation in airfare based on the day of week that you buy, and the days that you fly, it’s different for every route, and even for different airlines serving that route say the experts. That means consumers can’t count on any day as the near-perfect buy-now day, and instead should start hunting for airfare often and early and setting fare alerts. Ultimately sales are more random now with lots of quickies happening in under 24 hours.
2.Booking directly with the airline could be a good option
It used to be that the best way to get good rates on airfare was to use one of the online travel agency (OTA) sites like Expedia that aggregate flight deals. But in plenty of cases, that’s not true anymore. Airlines are now more frequently offering deals and discount codes directly on their sites that aren’t available on the OTA sites according to the pros. Plus, some airlines offer fare guarantees.
You should still look at prices on OTAs to see if you’re getting a good rate, but once you do, you may want to consider booking right with the airline, assuming they offer a very similar price (many times, they do). This may offer you the ability (for a cost, of course) to better customize your trip by adding things you want like extra legroom.
3. Airline-branded credit cards aren’t the best way to get free flights.
It wasn’t too long ago that getting an airline-branded credit card was the way to go — you’d get free flights more quickly than with other cards. But now you can often earn free flights faster and easier with a good general travel rewards credit card, says a rep from a credit card associate with a credit card comparison site. These airline-specific cards are not giving as good rewards rates as the more general rewards cards — and they’re more limited because they’re with one airline and the rewards themselves are not worth as much now.
Frequent fliers may also want to have an airline branded credit card in their pockets for the perks like free checked bags and early boarding, but not use it for purchases (instead use your higher rewards general travel card); the annual fee on those cards may be worth it if you get enough free checked bags or other perks.
4. Private flights CAN BE AFFORDABLE now
It used to be that only the rich and famous could fly private, but recently a host of new airlines and sites are making private jet travel accessible to more folks. JetSuite.com offers last-minute deals on its flights for as low as $90 per person (US) (though you must book a minimum of six seats for a total of $536, so get a group together). Others offer monthly memberships that allow unlimited private jet travel; if you make multiple flights to these spots in a month anyway, this can shake out to be the same price as flying commercial.
5. Choose wisely on flight dates for big holidays
Everyone usually tells you to book early to get the best deals for holidays when everyone is travelling, like Christmas for example but the main thing is setting a good date. Kayak recommends departing as close to Christmas Day as possible (like even Christmas Eve…yay cocktails on the plane) and try to depart and return during the weekends around Christmas. Same goes for New Year’s.
BOTTOM LINE: Flight bookings take a little time and thought if you are looking to get the best deal! What do you think…any good tips to add to the list?
SOURCE: Hopper.com, Marketwatch, Kayak
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