One Expert Tip Can Save You Big Money When Shopping for Airline Tickets

Friends traveling by plane wearing facemasks and taking a selfie stock photo
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Scott’s Cheap Flights founder Scott Keyes has the ultimate tip for saving on airfare — and its not the usual “book ahead” or “search on specific days” mantra that you’re used to hearing.

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Keyes recommends always comparing fares for the full group of your travel party to the price of just one or two seats on the same flight, reports CNBC. He claims that, typically, airlines sell their tickets in buckets, meaning that a flight could have 10 tickets available at $99, 15 available at $150, or 20 available at $200 — all for the same flight. When a cheap “bucket” sells out, customers are then shown the more expensive seats.

For a single traveler, this might not make a huge difference, but for a party of four, it could be a deal breaker regarding whether or not to take the trip at all. For a four-person trip, the airline’s ticketing system will show the tickets in the bucket that can still accommodate four seats. One way around this is to search for single or double tickets — regardless of how many people are in your travel party. It is possible that there are still cheaper tickets available on your flight, but perhaps not for the bundle you are searching for.

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Using this method, you could theoretically purchase one or two tickets that are still available in the cheaper bucket, thereby closing out that price section’s availability, and then purchase the rest of your tickets at the higher price.

An important thing to remember when using this strategy, Keyes said, is to call the airline after you make your reservation and ensure that you and the rest of your party are all on the same itinerary. This way, if flights change or get cancelled, everyone is handled together and, in the worst case scenario, not all booked on separate flights.

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Other strategies for cheaper airline bookings are avoiding the weekends and searching from different devices. The more you search a particular flight on your phone, the less likely you will be to catch a “hook you in” deal. Airlines are known to jack up prices if you keep searching for the same particular travel. One way to circumvent this is to search from different devices or a friend’s/spouse’s device to ensure you get the best deal.

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Last updated: August 23, 2021

About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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