With the rising cost of airfare, finding the best price on plane tickets for your cruise can be a bit tricky. Prices for flights can change from one minute to the next. You may have noticed, prices have gone through the roof over the past 12-18 months.
There is one important thing to remember when booking flights, there is no “holy grail” that can tell you exactly what day to buy the tickets and when they will be the best price. There are guides that can help, but prices often move up and down without much rhyme or reason. Every flight is different, that is why these tips should be taken as a guide, and not the law.
Let’s take a look at some common misconceptions about airline tickets and answer a few basic questions such as: What websites offer the best deals? When is the best time to buy your tickets? What days are the cheapest to fly? Will prices go up and down after I purchase my tickets?
What websites offer the best deals on flights? If you are searching for a domestic plane ticket, all websites should display the same prices. It doesn’t matter if you are searching Expedia.com, Kayak, Travelocity, Priceline or any other travel site, the prices will match what the airlines are charging on their websites. If a roundtrip ticket on Delta is $335 on Expedia, the exact same flight will be the same price on all the other travel sites. Remember that discount carriers such as Southwest, Frontier, and JetBlue do not appear on some travel sites.
Why are prices the same? Airlines stopped paying commission on flights years ago. The only time where a flight may differ in price is if the website or travel agent charges a surcharge for booking the tickets.
When is the best time to buy your tickets? Most experts will agree that the best time to buy airline tickets is 3 months or 2-3 weeks before your flight. Last minute flights (less than 14 days before your flight) are often the most expensive. While airlines usually run specials on Monday and Tuesday, it is a myth that prices are overall cheapest on Tuesdays.
The most expensive day to fly is Sunday and the cheapest is Tuesday. Unfortunately for cruisers, most 7 night cruises end on Saturday or Sunday so being flexible on travel days is not always an option.
Will prices go up and down after I purchase my tickets? Honestly, there is no 100% foolproof way of knowing. However, there are some great tools that can give you an idea. One tool is the Price Trend on Kayak.com. When you do a search for a flight, it will give you advice on whether it is a good time to buy or if you should wait. It will also tell you how confident they are in the advice they are giving.
Bing had a price predictor that worked well in the past, but their results are now powered by Kayak. The price predictor is no longer found on their travel page. The predictor had a 75% accuracy rate.
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Can I get the lower price if the price goes down after I purchased my tickets? While every airline is different, you usually can. However, you must also pay the ticket change fee to get the lower price. 99.9% of the time, the change fee will be more than the price drop. If the price does drop within 24 hours of purchase, you can cancel your purchase and rebook to get the lower price. You can actually cancel any flight that you booked within 24 hours for any reason and get a full refund.
Some travel sites will advise you to “mix and match” airlines to get the best deal. This is not recommended. Anytime you have a connecting flight on a different airline, it is a recipe for lost luggage. You can fly on one airline to your destination and different one on your way back, but don’t ever have connecting flights on different airlines. The headache of lost luggage isn’t worth the few dollars you may save.
It can be frustrating trying to find a deal on airfare right, the days of $199 round trips seem to be a thing of the past. If you are searching for prices and find a price that you like, book it and don’t look back.