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Summer is a great time to travel for a lot of people — a time to get away to warm, relaxing locations and unwind. Of course, pretty much everyone else has the same idea, which makes booking summer flights a pricey endeavor.
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With skyrocketing inflation and fuel prices, this summer’s flights could be even more expensive, too. Here are 10 expert secrets on how to book them on the cheap.
Book on a Tuesday
According to Alex Gillard, founder of nomad nature travel, you might score a better deal by booking a Tuesday, as strange as that may sound. Gillard explains, “Booking on a Tuesday can land you a cheap flight because airlines often announce their sales on Monday, meaning that by Tuesday, other airlines are trying to compete and there are more discount fares available.”
You can open an incognito search window in your browser for a potentially better deal, Gillard says. “[By doing this] the big booking sites can’t read your cookies and adjust the prices on you. What often happens when you’re shopping around for tickets, and especially if you come back to the same site a few times, is that the site sees your buying intent is high and they raise the price on you.”
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Avoid Third-Party Booking
It’s tempting to book your flights through a third party, but Gillard says this may lead to higher prices, and it’s better to book directly through the airline. “I like to search for flights using the aggregators and then head over to the airline’s website to buy. A lot of the third parties are quite shady and will rip you off with exorbitant booking fees and outright ticket price inflation.”
Additionally, he points out that it’s easier to try and get a refund directly from an airline than from a third party agency.
George Corbin, COO of Onriva, a travel booking platform, urges travelers to take advantage of any rewards you might have earned, or waivers you got from canceling travel due to the pandemic.
“Most loyalty programs offered waivers for travelers to keep their status and points through the pandemic, but those are now being quietly rolled back to the pre-pandemic ‘use it or lose it’ rules. With fewer trips on the books, frequent travelers now have to make sure every trip counts towards earning back or keeping their status. However, many travel bookings on the most popular travel aggregator sites don’t allow you to earn points or miles. And Basic economy fares might save you money, but they might earn less points and don’t always count against earning or keeping elite status. The channel you use to book your trip matters if you want to be sure you are keeping your loyalty status.”
Combine Business and Leisure
Corbin says that the sudden boom in travel demand after the lockdowns and caution of the pandemic — plus inflation and rising gas prices — will make for higher prices than ever before. Corbin recommends turning that four-day business trip into a week vacation to help cut costs on flights you otherwise would be spending out of your personal budget. “It may even benefit your company at the same time because price can decrease depending on the day you fly.”
Subscribe to Travel Agency Mailing Lists
While you might not want more emails, one type worth receiving frequently are those from popular travel agencies in your locale, according to Todd Sarouhan, owner of Go Visit San Diego and Go Visit Costa Rica. “Check those emails regularly as there will be reduced deals on flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and even competitions that will allow you to travel on a budget while still getting value for money.”
Book a Whole Package
Sarouhan also recommends you book a holiday package instead of just a flight. “If you need a hotel and/or rental car in addition to your flight, it may be cheaper to buy a flight-and-hotel package than to book each separately.”
Jakob Staudal, travel expert and founder of HeadlessNomad, suggests that flexibility can allow for better deals.
“When it comes to finding the best deal for summer flights, you should be flexible with the dates. If you know where you want to go, and in what month, it can be helpful to simply look at the prices of flying on varying days. This can really help you to find a better deal, and also help you to avoid issues like overbooking as the cheaper flights tend to be early, late or in the middle of the week.
Take Advantage of 24-Hour Cancellation Policies
Additionally, Staudal reminds travelers that most airlines have a policy in which they have to let you cancel the flight within 24 hours of booking if you decide to do so. “It might be beneficial for you to snag a deal when you see it and then find out if it is feasible within 24 hours.”
Be an Active Researcher
If you really want to book your flight at cheaper rates, you have to be patient and put in some effort, advises Abid Ullah, a travel enthusiast and CMO of HuntHotels.com.
“I usually advise people to check travel sites in the morning at 9:00 am and in the evening after 5:00 pm before confirming their ticket. Continue your research for several days and when you find the best rates for a summer flight, just go with it.”
Frequently Delete Your Browser History and Cookies
This tip is similar to searching incognito for flights. Travel sites and airlines track your search history, which can possibly increase the rates that were comparatively less a few hours ago. Therefore, do not forget to delete your browser history and cookies before and after searching for the flights to get the best rates offered.
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