Finding the fare

Airlines and airfares are things everyone loves to hate (cliche, I know). My most frequent question from friends is “does this look like a good deal?” The answer I give is one my friends hate…it’s “if you think it’s a fair price then it’s a good deal.”
Look, prices fluctuate all the time. Some sites will swear one day of the week is the best day to buy. I’ve never seen it. Typically, three months to three weeks out is the best time to buy, but there are exceptions. Fare rules are meant to be broken.
I highly recommend you sign up for airline emails. I especially recommend the low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air, Wow air and Spirit. They advertise some great steals. Some of my best fares (including a $14.11 flight from Cleveland to Los Angeles) were found in an email. You can also sign up for emails from aggregators like AirFareWatchDog.org.
It helps to be flexible in planning your vacation. The best deals are ones you can plan around, not ones you try to fit into a schedule. Price for us is the biggest motivator. A Spirit executive once said their biggest competitor is the couch and I hold them to it!
My favorite search engine is ITA Matrix. You can’t book through them, but you can easily search nearby airports then take that information to a preferred booking agent. I like to book through the airlines since that provides the most flexibility if something goes wrong, but sometimes they’ll show a different price than ITA Matrix so check with Hipmunk or BookWithMatrix. Be sure to read the details on how to properly copy and paste the deal. Remember Southwest Airlines doesn’t show up there and often Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant will have better prices on their websites so remember this is just one tool.
If you see a good deal be sure to pounce. In most cases you have 24-hours to cancel your ticket if your flight is more than a week out. Even on non-refundable tickets. Check with the airlines for specific fare rules. Sometimes prices will drop in that period, which means you can cancel the ticket and book under the new price.
Finally, as it gets closer to your trip check the weather. Sometimes airlines will issue a blanket policy for a region and allow you to cancel or change your flight without penalty. This can work in your favor if the weather isn’t too bad. For example, I cancelled a ticket on American an affected area and booked on another carrier because they had a price $20 cheaper than my original ticket. In other cases you may be able to change your flight to a more convenient airport. For example, I changed a ticket for a flight going into JFK to one at LaGuardia because it’s more convenient to get to Manhattan.
Some may say ‘this seems like a lot of work.’ It can be, but I see it as a puzzle and every dollar saved is another dollar towards our next trip.
Finding the fare Finding the fare Reviewed by Brandon on March 29, 2017 Rating: 5

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