Airfare gurus, please share your wisdom

<p>I know one rule about airfares (I think): less than two weeks in advance is likely to be more expensive. Are there any others?</p>

<p>I need to travel twice this fall, once in September and once in November (not Thanksgiving). I just searched the fares, and both are almost $500. I live in a moderately sized southeastern city and connect through either Atlanta or Charlotte to fly almost anywhere. Both flights are domestic.</p>

<p>Oh-and I looked at the seat selection thing and the planes seem nearly empty (almost all seats available). Why are the fares so high?</p>

<p>High prices this far in advance are a function of demand, not supply. While there are many empty seats now (supply is high), those who are making reservations 3 to 6 months in advance are doing so because they have a high need to do so; they are planning around a known event, and don't have as much flexibility as people do who are planning a month or so in advance. </p>

<p>My family is in a similar situation--we are planning to fly from the southeast to Phoenix right after Christmas. I have been following fares. Last month they were $500 per person; now they are about $300 per person. I will have to decide whether the chance that they will go lower is greater than the risk that they will go higher.</p>

<p>Ideas: check frequently, consider other airlines (Southwest is opening a new route or routes in South Carolina soon, I think), consider whether you could drive to Atlanta or Charlotte and check that alternative as well.</p>

<p>sign up for fare alerts on <a href="http://www.kayak.com....they%5B/url%5D"&gt;www.kayak.com....they&lt;/a> will notify you for the next 10 days (and there is also a chart showing the fare trend so you can see how low the price has been recently)</p>

<p>Also sign up for airfarewatchdog.com and you can desigante what cities you want rates from. I get daily alerts for fares and know to jump on them when a good deal comes available.</p>

<p>I also use airfarewatchdog and keep track of three airports. I get weekly alerts. I always look at Southwest first to see if I can use them. They don't always show up on all search engines. They're my favorite because there is no charge for changing flights and if the price goes lower, you can call and get rebated the difference.</p>

<p>If you can use Southwest, do so. Also, if you ticket in advance on Southwest and the fare goes down (keep checking and also sign up for Southwest "Ding" alerts), you can re-ticket at no penalty. You will get a credit for the difference in fare. Also, no baggage charge on Southwest so figure that in. Even if you have to drive a couple of hours to a city that Southwest serves, it can be worth it.</p>

<p>Sometimes you can get cheaper rates by doing a vacation package. Add in a hotel or car for one night even if you don't use it - it can be cheaper than just the airfare itself. And look at multiple airports at the origin and destination. And other airlines as well. Jet blue, southwest, spirit air, others.</p>

<p>Some more strategies:
The day of the week you are flying on can affect the price. Flying on a Sunday is typically more expensive than a Monday, and Mondays are more expensive than Saturdays. Also flights leaving in the morning are often more expensive than afternoon flights.</p>

<p>Amesie - There was a time when "low cost airlines" offered the lowest prices. Today? Any airline could offer the lowest (or highest) fare on given date/time/route.</p>

<p>Our family flies quite a bit, and we're very experienced trying to find low fares for the brood. We still get surprised from time-to-time, but here's our experience:
[1] Southwest "wanna get away" fares are usually best ... but you need to book those way in advance, and Southwest doesn't fly to all cities, and their best fares may not be for the time you want to fly;
[2] Fares are usually lower midweek;
[3] Fares tend to be highest months before departure, and the ten days or so before departure ... we try to book two to three weeks before flight time;
[4] Some airports are poor choices for connections; and
[5] Airline Web sites generally offer more available flights than generic travel Web sites.</p>

<p>Don't know your location, but Southwest has some specials right now that are hard to beat - but you must book by Thursday :</p>

<p>Special</a> Offers - Air Specials - Southwest Airlines</p>

<p>I don't know if this is coincidence, but I've noticed that when I go to book air travel that airfares seem to be the lowest on the websites on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and higher on the weekends.</p>

<p>thumper1-Yes, you are correct. It is best to do your actual booking mid-week. I guess the marketing strategy is that more people are surfing the Web for airfares during the weekend, and less people think about doing it mid-week, so I have found that it is important to check the fares on Tuesday and Wednesday.</p>

<p>I agree with thumper1 and momof3sons, check Tuesday and Wednesday for fares because price-sensitive leisure travelers usually book tickets on weekends while [less price-sensitive] business travelers book during the week. Also, the people that decide which fares to offer usually work during the week.</p>

<p>Always check to see if other airlines are matching Southwest's fares, even if Southwest doesn't serve a certain airport. If they serve the route you're looking at, also check out Allegiant Airlines Discount</a> Flights and Vacation Packages | Airfare & Hotel Packages from Allegiant . With any airline, be open to connecting in different cities than you usually do.</p>

<p>I recently booked a couple flight out of Seattle for the Fall. Both to major hubs connecting to smaller cities. The main flights looked pretty full already when I went to chose my seats. I don't think they'll be giving much away anytime soon.</p>