Booking Flights Online

You can save a great deal of money booking flights online for your vacation if you know where the best deals are.

This web page explores saving money by using different airlines, airports, times of day and more.

Here are the major things that will affect your costs.

Booking Flights Online Early
Once your plans have been decided on, it is best to book early. As it gets closer to the flight date, and more seats are filled, the cost can go up (sometimes significantly).

If possible, purchase your tickets one or two months in advance for continental flights.

Airplane Taking Off

Flying is Fun!

Purchase your tickets three or more months in advance for international travel to get the best bargains.

Different Days and Times
Depending on your flexibility of travel times and days, you can save significantly. Some days are going to be busier for the airlines and thus they are able to charge more for their seats.

Invest some time trying different times and dates of travel. For example, weekends are frequently more expensive than the middle of the week, unless a location has high business traffic.

Testing the Waters
If you are booking out a two or more months in advance consider checking prices over a couple of days—especially if the price for your flights seems high. Many prices vary over time.

I have saved significantly by checking the same flights two or three times over a weeks period of time. Having said that, if you immediately find a price that looks great, book it. It may go away and not come back again. As with anything, judgment and common sense play a large part in saving money.

A Word of Caution:
The closer you get to the flight day, the more important it is to book and tie in your cost—especially if your trip is only out a month or less away. I have made the mistake a couple of times in waiting too long to book a flight and ended up spending a lot more than I should have if I had booked early.

Different Airports when Booking Flights Online
Many cities have more than one airport. Knowing which ones have the best deals is important.

For example, Washington DC has three airports. There is Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) Washington (WAS). Last Christmas I went up to visit my sister and her family from Tucson Arizona (where I live). By researching the different airports I was able to save over $100 by traveling to Washington Reagan (DCA) airport.

Sometimes you can get a better deal using a different airport; sometimes the prices are very close. But if you don’t check different airports, you may end up spending more than you had to.

Different Cities when Booking Flights Online
Sometimes it makes sense to travel to another city to fly out of or into. For example, last year I went on a business trip to Charlotte South Carolina. I live in Tucson I flew out of the Phoenix Airport (PHX) and saved over $200 on the round trip fare. This was after I paid for the gas to the Phoenix Airport (~100 miles away) and extra for parking.

Note: Flying out of a different city is usually more expensive in time, gas and sometimes parking. If you do decide to fly out of another city, be sure you save enough to make it worth your while.

Different Airlines when Booking Flights Online
Different airlines have different prices. Sometime you may use airlines that you can get frequent flier miles on. This can be wise if the prices are similar. However, if the prices are significantly more expensive for the airlines (with frequent flier miles) you may end up paying too much for your vacation ticket.

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