We’re all guilty of it. We Google all the best tricks for finding the lowest airfare only to discover that, more often than not, they don’t work. We set an alarm for Tuesday afternoon, a time we read was the cheapest time to shop for flights, and we snag the lowest price we can find. Hours later, a less expensive option appears.
Unfortunately, while the statistical data surrounding airfare prices can provide insight into when some people managed to land the best deals, it’s sort of like playing the lottery. You may be more likely to snag a low price during these forecasted days and times — the odds are technically higher — but it’s a bit of a long shot. There are simply too many factors in play to truly predict the prices at any given day or time.
While there may not be a true “hack” for finding cheap airline tickets, there are a few things that can help. It’s all about staying informed as a consumer. There are a variety of ways to keep yourself in the loop so that, when the time comes, you can make an educated purchase and feel confident in your selection.
Sign up for alerts
With airfare alerts, you’ll be among the first to know when airfare prices are at their best. Get updates on last minute deals, unadvertised sales, and special offers or promo codes via email or mobile notification.
One of the most popular options when it comes to searching airfares (or just about anything else) is Google. Here’s how you can sign up for Google Flight Alerts.
- Visit Google Flights and enter your desired flight information (departure, destinations, number of stops, cabin class and number of passengers)
- Turn on the switch next to “track prices”
Once you’ve turned on tracking, you’ll receive a notification whenever prices are changing along with Google’s estimates and insights to help you make the best decision. If you prefer to shop for flights elsewhere, nearly all flight search engines provide a price tracking option and follow a very similar process.
Sign up with your favorite airlines
With all of the competition among airlines today, loyalty can go a long way. Show your favorite airlines that you’re a customer they want to keep by signing up to receive direct emails from them. Loyalty programs can offer a variety of benefits, including rewards for consistently flying with the same airline and special offers and promo codes.
American Airlines’ AAAdvantage program, Delta’s Skymiles and Southwest’s Rapid Rewards all offer great benefits for members. If you tend to fly with a particular airline (or a couple of them) often, it can definitely pay off to sign up. Of course, many airlines also offer basic email subscriptions for those who want to stay informed without enrolling in a loyalty program.
Social media steals
This list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of social media. The best way to stay on top of the latest in just about anything these days is social media. Find out what the best deals are right now in real time by following your preferred airlines on social media. Additionally, following #airfare on Twitter will provide you with the latest in flight deals from all of the major airlines and airfare sites.
Do it all
Each of the methods discussed has its own unique benefits, but to ensure that you get the best deal possible, you can combine them all. Sign up for alerts, loyalty programs, and email subscriptions. Follow airlines and airfare-related profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
In a world filled with more options than ever, it’s your job as a consumer to stay informed. Luckily, the businesses that want you to choose them have made it easier than ever to stay up to date. Whether you have a trip coming up soon, or simply know that you’ll be planning a vacation sometime next year, take some time to prepare. When the time comes, you’ll have all the information you need to get the best deal.