Searching For Flights
Many people search for airfare the old-fashioned way: enter a departure city, arrival city, date of departure, and date of return. A ticket is chosen from that page. Ready to travel! Simple, right?
Yes, simple. But not cost-effective. For those who are lucky enough to have some flexibility in their schedules (read more about the importance of that here), you have 2 main options for quickly browsing through hundreds of potential ticket combinations:
- 1 - Choose "flexible dates" or "± 3 days" before submitting your search. If hidden, this function can easily be exposed by clicking "show advanced options", "more options", or something similar.
- 2 - Find a website that offers a price calendar. Here is a current example (taken from Google Flights on April 29, 2017)
Overall, Google Flights is one of my favorite places to look for plane tickets. It can really simple the search for good travel dates and plane tickets. It might not be the winner in the end, but it's the website I always check first.
Analyzing the Price Calendar
By looking at this calendar view of direct flights between STL and Denver, I can more easily find the diamonds in the rough. Maybe I was planning to fly to Denver on Monday May 15th, but now I see that Tuesday is $129 cheaper. Just by waiting 1 day!
Even more incredibly, had I chosen to travel on the following Monday, I would've spent an extra $202! And this is just a one-way ticket!
Likewise, checking out the ticket prices on that Tuesday (the 16th) reveals some important information about available flight times:
While I'm only showing a small subset of the available tickets here, one thing is obvious: if you want the $54 ticket, you've got to choose the 1:40PM flight. Like being flexible with dates of departure, flexibility with departure times is equally important in securing a cheap, comfortable ticket.
Join me next time for more great travel tips!