Thanksgiving is all about family. Perhaps this is why so many Americans brave the long lines and exorbitant airfares to be with family during Thanksgiving. Or maybe we should take back the exorbitant airfares part. Today we look at some tips that could help you find some great deals while reducing the hit to your wallet.
Know when to book your tickets
The day on which you book your tickets might make all the difference in how much you end up paying. Bill Miller of CheapoAir.com suggests checking for ticket prices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Says Miller, “Airlines will update their fares through what is called a Global Distribution System (GDS) during this time and that could make a big difference on your wallet in the end.”
Become a flex-traveller
When travelling during high traffic days such as Thanksgiving, flexibility is key. Changing your travel dates or flying out of a different airport could save you serious cash.
Most travel websites offer tools and apps to help the flex-traveller, says Nikolett Bacso of VacationHouse Destinations.
“There’s Priceline’s Inside Track, Expedia’s Trend Tracker, Hotwire’s Trip Watcher, Travelocity’s flexible-dates search, and the Calendar Matrix displays used by Orbitz,” she says. Or use Google’s latest toy, ITA Software, to comparison shop.
Planning your journey ahead of time might help with cutting your travel costs. Most airline websites mention how many days ahead you need to book to avail yourself of the lowest rates.
On second thoughts, book late
We’re contradicting ourselves, but sometimes, it’s smarter to book late. Airlines sometimes have last minute fire sales, with discounts as high as 50% off some tickets.
“Like” the airline on Facebook, start following it on Twitter and become privy to last minute deals that the less tech-savvy are unaware of. Or sign up for alerts from Orbitz or Kayak.com. It just might be worthwhile to take a chance (and surprise your folks!).
Know your destination
If you’re visiting family or friends in Europe, it’s better economic sense to travel first to London, and then take a flight with a different airline. There are plenty of other commuting options for travelling within Europe as well. In a similar vein, travelling to BWI airport, instead of the busier Dulles airport, when visiting Washington DC might translate to a lower ticket price.
Scoring at the airport
During holidays such as Thanksgiving, airlines often overbook their flights. That’s why you might hear pre-boarding announcements such as free tickets for anyone willing to take a later flight. If your schedule allows it, take the freebie and use it later.
Coupons and cash back
Ebates CEO Kevin Johnson says, “Cash back deals with Ebates’ travel partners are always available, but are not typically promoted on travel sites.”
Get into the habit of checking for cash back offers on sites like Ebates first, to guarantee a reduced price. Also use the credit card that offers you maximum cash back. A 2% cash back on a $500 ticket is $40 in savings for a set of four tickets.
Beware of unpleasant hidden surprises
Airlines might charge similar amounts for the tickets – maybe a few dollars separates one airline from another. But baggage fees vary wildly from airline to airline. Fly.com’s new baggage icon, released in time for Thanksgiving holiday travel, might help you figure out the total fare you’ll end up paying. The icon clearly displays luggage fees charged by airlines for preferred flights.