THE TRUTH AND MYTHS ABOUT SCORING CHEAP AIRFARE

crossing5oceans.com | Published October 28th, 2021 | Last Updated October 28th, 2021

The wing of an airplane with a red tip; the sun is setting above the clouds

Did you know the question that gets asked by more travellers than any other is “How can I book the cheapest flight?” And that’s a fair question considering it often eats up a significant portion of the travel budget.


Save yourself time, energy and hard earned dollars by using the tips below to get the best possible deals on flights to your next destination.


Table of Contents

THE MYTHS

1. Booking Directly with the Airline will get you the Best Fares

2. Using an Incognito Tab will get you a Better Deal

3. You will get the Best Price if you Purchase on a Tuesday

4. Buying a Roundtrip Ticket is Cheaper than Buying Two One-Way Fares

5. The Farther in Advance you Book the More you will Save


THE TRUTH

1. You Will Save Money if You're Flexible

2. The Best Days to Travel are Midweek

3. If you Find a Mistake Fare, Book it Right Away

4. You May Save Money Booking a Budget Airline

5. Don't Rely on One Website to Search for Fares


The Myths


MYTH 1 - BOOKING DIRECTLY WITH THE AIRLINE WILL GET YOU THE BEST FARES

With the number of websites dedicated to scouring the Internet to find the best rates, you will not necessarily get the best price by booking directly through the airline.

BOTTOM LINE: You should be using a variety of websites to see the best price available. Some great options are Skyscanner, Google Flights and Momondo.




MYTH 2 - USING AN INCOGNITO TAB WILL GET YOU A BETTER DEAL - it was believed that the cookies in your browser recorded the dates and routes being searched. If it were done repeatedly, the price would go up to scare you into purchasing a ticket. It seems likely since many companies track cookies, but in reality, there’s no actual evidence this occurs.


This theory has been put to the test. The same flights have been searched over a hundred times using the same browser WITHOUT an Incognito tab, and the results speak for themselves; some fares fluctuated by a dollar or two and others by nothing at all.


Bottom Line: A flight price may fluctuate up to 60 times in one day because of many factors; none of them is because of the cookies in your internet browser. So, search away!


A screenshot of the black "you've gone incognito" webpage.

Searching Incognito will not Save on Airfare Prices


MYTH 3 - YOU WILL GET THE BEST PRICE IF YOU PURCHASE ON A TUESDAY

This is probably the myth that has been perpetuated the longest, and the reason is that it was once true. Airlines would load their fares on Mondays, and by default, Tuesdays would end up being “the day” to purchase your flight.

Bottom Line: The average fare will waver only very slightly based on the day of the week you book so don't be concerned. Be more concerned about the day you travel (more on this below).


Wooden blocks resting on a table spelling out the word Tuesday

Booking on a Tuesday will not Save on Airfare Prices



MYTH 4 - BUYING A ROUNDTRIP TICKET IS CHEAPER THAN BUYING TWO ONE-WAY FARES

This one is tricky and may require a bit more research when you’re trying to book a flight. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, or the ARC, the development of hacker fares by sites like Hopper and Kayak means that purchasing two one-way fares may save the average consumer on the flight price.

Bottom Line: This way of booking is no longer a secret. In 3 years, the trend of purchasing one-way tickets instead of round trip grew from 29% to 49%.




MYTH 5 - THE FARTHER IN ADVANCE YOU BOOK THE MORE YOU WILL SAVE

With some airlines, you’ll find tickets for sale starting about 11 months before a flight, but Airlines begin to manage the available seats approximately three months out. Algorithms that determine pricing start to come into play, and average prices are set at this time.


Bottom Line: The best time to book a flight is any time from about three months away up to 21 days before the departure date. You will find relatively the same fare (it may fluctuate around $50) during this time; then, at the 21-day mark, the price most often tends to increase.


Side view of monthly calendar pages being flipped

Booking Far in Advance Doesn't Mean the Best Deals


The Truth


TRUTH 1 - YOU WILL SAVE MONEY IF YOU’RE FLEXIBLE - Being flexible is not just about the day of the week and the time of day that you book your flight; it’s also about the country you’re travelling to.


You can use websites like Skyscanner or Google Flights to see the cost of flights around the globe.


When searching, enter your desired airport in the “from” box but leave the “to” box blank. The results will show you prices from numerous countries worldwide.


Bottom Line: How can you use this information? For example, if you’re taking a trip to Europe, it may be worth landing in London then booking a second leg to Stockholm from London. By seeing the cheapest country to fly into, it could potentially save you hundreds of dollars.




TRUTH 2 - THE BEST DAYS TO TRAVEL ARE MIDWEEK AND THE BEST TIME IS OVERNIGHT

If you’re looking to book a flight and are wondering if some days are more expensive to fly than others, the answer is yes. Don’t confuse this with the day of the week you pay for your flight as in the myth above. This is all about the day you are actually in the air.


Bottom Line: Midweek (Tuesday and Wednesday) will score travellers the lowest fares. Sundays and Fridays are typically the most expensive days to fly, so be sure to try and book around them if possible. Also, when it comes to the time of day to book, red-eye flights are the cheapest because of the off-peak time.




TRUTH 3 - IF YOU FIND A MISTAKE FARE, BOOK IT RIGHT AWAY

If you know from previous searches that a fare you’re tracking is significantly less than anything you’ve seen, book it! Whether mistake fares happen from human error or computer glitches, the prices can sometimes be valid for days, but sometimes they can sell out within minutes, so if you’re fortunate enough to catch one, don’t miss out.


A computer screen filled with zeros and ones and the word 'error' in the middle of it.

If you Find a Mistake Fare Book it Right Away


TRUTH 4 - YOU MAY SAVE MONEY BOOKING A BUDGET AIRLINE

While this isn’t accurate 100% of the time, booking through a budget airline will most often save money on the cost of the flight. If you are okay foregoing space, comfort, and potentially food service, then this may be the perfect way for travellers to shave some money off the cost of their fares.


Bottom Line: A large majority of the time you will get a better price through a budget airline but you'll probably need to sacrifice comfort to do so.




TRUTH 5 - DON'T RELY ON ONE WEBSITE TO SEARCH FOR FARES

This truth goes hand in hand with the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket." Lets imagine you use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner to search for flights. What happens if a mistake fare was posted on Momondo? You would miss that fare by sticking to only one website. It's best to have multiple sites you rely on to do your searches.


Bottom Line: Be sure to use more than one website to search for airfare. You never know when you'd miss a better deal or even a mistake fare on another site.



Hopefully clearing up what is truth and myth will help you juggle the confusing world of airfare pricing. Use this knowledge to find the best possible deal for your future adventures!



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