Even though most of us dread air travel with the possibility for flight delays and cancellations, the Federal Bureau of Transportation indicates that airline performance may be getting better. New statistics show that airlines were on time roughly 86.3% of the time in April 2012, rising 10.8% from April 2011.
As airlines learn to get their timing right, passengers can take cues. When you book your airfare strategically and at the right time, you could save hundreds of dollars on the total cost of a flight.
- Book last-minute. Airlines will often slash ticket prices if they can’t fill up a plane for an upcoming flight. If you want to travel on a Friday or Saturday, you can sign up for alerts to receive discounted airfare offers via email on Tuesday of the same week.
- Have a flexible destination. Websites like Kayak offer an explore tool that will allow you to view results for multiple airfares over several destinations. Though you may be planning a vacation to California, you can use this explore feature to check out competing airfare throughout the state to determine your exact vacation spot.
- Always fly on a Wednesday. Airfare experts agree that Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly for domestic travel. The reason being is that airlines are likely to have a higher supply of seats that need filling, offering the average passenger an even heftier discount when purchasing a ticket.
- Stay in touch in social media. If you are planning a trip to California in the near future, you can follow an airline on Facebook or Twitter. Some major airlines post last-minute deals that customers can take advantage of within a set window of time. If you find a travel deal posted via social media, snatch it up right away, or it may be too late.
- Check back within 24 hours of booking. Airlines provide passengers with a 24 hour rule that very few people take advantage of. After you book your flight, make sure to check back within 24 hours to see if the price dropped whatsoever. If it did, you can contact an airline directly to cancel and rebook your flight without an added penalty.
As you prepare to book a flight for your California vacation, don’t forget the golden rule that the first flight of the day is often the cheapest. If you’re willing to take a redeye directly to the Golden State, you could save on airfare by sacrificing a little sleep.