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8 Tips from a Flight Attendant’s Daughter to Save Money on Your Next Flight

With travel on the rise and a record number of fliers taking to the skies this summer, travelers need to carefully consider their booking strategy to snag the best fares. As the daughter of a flight attendant, I’ve picked up some insider knowledge about getting the best flight deals, and I’m going to share my secrets with you. Below are my eight best travel tips for finding an affordable flight to save you money.

Couple booking flights on couch
itchaznong | Adobe Stock

Try an Incognito Window to Browse or Clear Your Cookies

An incognito window is a way to browse the internet that doesn’t save your history, cookies, site data, or information entered on forms by users.

Some articles have debunked using incognito web browsers, claiming that if flight prices fluctuate mid-search that it’s “likely a coincidence.” However, I know first-hand from my own personal experience that browsing privately, and avoiding being tracked, has usually always paid off.

According to Million Mile Secrets, “studies show that it is a good idea to search for travel using different browsers, both logged in and incognito to find the best deal.”

At the end of the day, it won’t hurt you to try both and see what results you get. You can find out how to open an incognito web browser here.

Purchase Your Flight at the Optimal Day and Time

Comparefare states that “the best time to book a cheap flight within the U.S. is usually on a Tuesday at about 3 p.m. Eastern time.” Flights are cheaper on Tuesdays because many airlines release discounted tickets on Monday nights. 

By booking on Tuesday, Skyscanner has determined that “you’ll save somewhere between 15 and 25 percent.”  It’s also typically more affordable to fly on a weekday. Departing on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday should lower your flight cost. Flight prices tend to start increasing on Thursday, and skyrocket on the weekends.

TripSavvy keeps a running tab on how many months before departure travelers should purchase airfare for different popular destinations. The general consensus is to book “between one month to six months before departure for Europe, one month to five months before departure for the Caribbean, and ten months before departure for Asia.” Like domestic flights, international plane tickets are usually cheaper when purchased on a week day.

To be sure you get the best rate, you should be checking fares at least a few times a week.

Pick Destinations Based on What’s on Sale at the Moment

Have you ever heard of someone throwing a dart at a map, or stopping a spinning globe with a finger, and then choosing that mark as their next travel destination?

Well, if you have, the dart thrower might have spent an arm and a leg for that snap-decision, but luckily you don’t have to!

Instead, Google cheap flight destinations and see where it’s affordable to go during the time you are searching, then plan accordingly. I once met a woman who traveled to countries exclusively based on the deals she found, and that is how she was able to venture to as many exotic places as she did.

Google Promo Codes and Promotions for Your Airline of Choice

You might not know this, but some airlines offer promo codes. You can easily find them by doing a quick Google search. Simply type the words “promo code” and the airline you want to book with into the search bar to check. Bargain hunters should also know that airlines occasionally offer timely promotional deals. For example, this summer Alaska Airlines launched a three-day sale offering discounted fares on select flights for autumn 2024 travel. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for when those deals surface, which leads me to my next tip…

Overhead view of someone booking flights on their laptop
Goffkein | Adobe Stock

Check Prices Often and Sign Up for Free Price Alerts

The more you check flights for a certain destination, the more you will be able to recognize when a ticket goes “on sale.” Think about how you shop for clothes. If you watch a certain shirt you’ve been eyeing at full price suddenly dip down, you know it’s a good time to buy. The same principle holds true for flights!

If you have exact travel dates in mind, you can cut down your efforts by signing up for free price alerts. These alerts notify you when the specific trip you have your heart set on scales its price back. 

Fly on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, July 4th, or Other Major Holidays

Flying on a holiday is often considered the best time to find the cheapest ticket. Any time I wanted an economical ticket to my hometown, New York, from Los Angeles, I would sacrifice a holiday. 

I either flew directly on Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even July 4th for the cheapest rate possible. It is not always fun or ideal to give up a day that comes around only once a year, but it’s worth it if you are really trying to save big and stretch your money.

Keep in mind that if you do choose to fly in on a holiday, you probably want to budget for a shuttle, Uber or Lyft— that way you won’t be pulling your family or friends away from their festivities to meet you at arrivals.

Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates and Times

If your travel dates are adjustable, you can be patient and wait for the best deals. Patience pays at the airport. What most people don’t know is that if you are waiting to board your plane, and a flight is overbooked, it won’t be long before you hear your gate agent over the loudspeaker asking for volunteers who can wait for the next flight out. If you’re fortunate enough to have a go-with-the flow attitude and the flexibility to wait, you should because the airline will often reward you a few hundred dollars in travel vouchers for being so accommodating. 

Accrue and Use Travel Points From Airlines, Credit Cards, Etc. 

When you use the right credit cards, you can acquire points and miles to help fund your next adventure. For instance, when you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening with Capital One’s Venture Rewards card, you get a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles.

Airlines also offer loyalty programs such as frequent flyer miles or travel points that can be used towards future flights. These programs are free, and you can easily rack up miles with every flight you take with the airline, or its affiliate airlines. Once you sign up, you will receive a number that you input every time you purchase a flight on their website. Once you accumulate enough points, you can redeem them for a free or reduced flight.

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