T’is the season to be jolly alright, but let’s not forget that you need to book that rarely affordable holiday flight before all the merry-making starts. While the end of the year often sees a notorious spike in airfares, there are still deals to be found IF you know how to search them out. Follow these important tips to make sure you avoid a nightmare before Christmas and end up sitting home alone.
Browse Low Fares by Clearing Your Cookies or Using Incognito Mode
Arguably THE one travel hack you should be using when you book a flight. “Clearing your cookies” essentially means you’re removing the files saved on your computer through your web browser that keep a record of your online activity. For the most part, these bits of data allow you to experience the web faster and easier, but many airline and travel sites use them to see where else you’ve looked for fares and what prices you’ve seen. They then base the ticket pricing they display for you on that information…and it’s often always higher. Browsing in “privacy” or “incognito” mode, which temporarily turns off web history and storing cookies, can theoretically accomplish the same thing, but many experts agree that it’s better to clear your cookies.
To find directions on how to clear your cookies or browse in private, simply do a web search for “clear cookies” or “private browsing” with the name of whatever web browser you’re using.
Fly Early Morning or a Red-Eye
Although they might not be the best for your sleep schedule, booking on flights that take off early in the morning or fly through the night can be an all-around perfect hack for any big trip. Because most people don’t want to wake up before dawn to get to the airport or try to carve out a restful night’s sleep in an airline seat, the demand isn’t too high for these flights…which means they tend to be cheaper. But low costs aren’t the only benefits for early morning and red-eye flights. They tend to take off when airports are the least busy, so you can sail through check-in and security. They’re also usually less crowded, which can translate to space to stretch out and shorter wait times for luggage. Oh, and both flights tend to be the ones that are least likely to get delayed or canceled.
So book an early takeoff or a red-eye and pack a pillow in your carry-on, it’s worth it.
Find Deals by Looking at Less Popular and Smaller Airports
Like flexibility in travel dates, being open to airport alternatives for your destination and even where you’re flying from can help you find a break in ticket prices. Granted, this strategy depends on the cities or regions you’re traveling to, but you’d be surprised how many places often feature a variety of airports to fly in and out of. The Washington D.C. area has three (Ronald Reagan, Dulles, and BWI), the Los Angeles area has four with international flights (LAX, Ontario, John Wayne, and San Bernardino) AND another two just for domestic carriers (Bob Hope and Long Beach), while in the New York area (depending on how far fliers are willing to commute) there’s more than half-a-dozen different places to fly out of or land in.
Be sure to check out all the options and think about trying a smaller airport for cheaper flights.