All shoppers should compare airfares before booking flights, for the simple reason that no airline always has the best deal on every single route (and this is true for airlines around the world). Maybe your favorite carrier normally has lots of deals, but prices can and do change without notice. For example, a competing airline may suddenly offer a much cheaper ticket to your destination, but if you don't compare fares, you'll never know about it. And comparing fares is easy and so fast, so you have no excuses.
If possible, be flexible when it comes to creating a travel itinerary. Try to begin and end your journey on one of the cheapest days to fly. For U.S. flights, that usually means taking off and returning on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. In other parts of the world, weekday flights are usually cheaper than weekends. Another method is to use a deal-finding tool like the Getaway Map that searches for the cheapest itineraries during specific time-frames.
Travelers in London or Tokyo or New York or Los Angeles or another mega-city often have a choice of airports, so be sure to check prices from all of them in case one has a better deal than another. But what if your hometown airport isn't a big hub? Check prices to the biggest airport near you; it might mean a longer driver to the airport, maybe two or three hours, but the savings could be worth it.
Holiday periods are popular times to fly and demand is high so prices are, too. Unfortunately, prices often keep rising, at least a few dollars a day, as the holidays get closer. Bottom line: Don't delay your ticket purchase or you could be hit with a hefty procrastination fee!
Travelers in the U.S. should consider joining the PreCheck program which makes for a much faster experience, thanks to a dedicated security line at the checkpoints (it costs $85 but is good for five years). For those in other countries, several nations have similar fast-track security programs worth investigating.
If you can’t fly to family and friends during the holidays, and they can’t come to you, how about giving the gift of travel so you can all get together – after the holidays? Maybe take a trip to a fun destination! Tip: Don’t buy a gift card; you can just state your intentions in a card to friends/family. Then, use the shopping tips above to get the best deal for all of you. By the way, January and February and very cheap times to fly within the U.S. and much of the world.
Happy holiday travels to all.