How to land cheaper airfares -

How to land cheaper airfares

The conventional wisdom used to be Wednesdays at midnight were the best time to get online and score some serious cyber-savers for airline tickets.

Not anymore.

Rick Seaney, CEO and co-founder of (, told consumer resource Bottom Line Personal magazine Tuesdays around 3 p.m. Eastern are now the best time to book low-cost airfare.

He said the airlines announce their sales on Monday nights, then the competition typically matches the sales mid-afternoon on Tuesdays.

"I think it's a great general rule to go by," said Vicki Rush, CEO of A&I Travel in East Memphis (

Rush said the market's too fluid to limit airfare shopping to Tuesday afternoons.

Here are Rush's recommendations for landing the lowest possible airfare any day of the week:

* START YOUR SEARCH AT LEAST THREE MONTHS BEFORE YOUR TRIP.  The earlier you start, the more seats that will be available on that trip. It's simple supply-and-demand:  the greater the supply of seats, the cheaper the price.

* SET YOUR FARE THRESHOLD. Keep searching and don't pull the trigger until the price drops to your threshold.

"I think you need to establish how flexible you are...'Am I able to move to a different weekend?' etc," said Rush, "and I need to know what I think is a fair fare in that market."

* DRAMATIC PRICE DROPS TYPICALLY LAST ONLY ONE DAY. If there is a precipitous drop in the price, that's likely as low as it will go. Grab it!

* IF YOU'RE PLANNING AHEAD, SEARCH DIRECTLY WITH THE AIRLINES' WEBSITES. IF YOU'RE SHOPPING LAST MINUTE, SEARCH THE THIRD-PARTY SITES. Rush said the airlines are constantly concerned about price integrity. They typically don't let the air out of their fares unless they're faced with "distressed inventory": seats they just can't sell or seats flyers just won't buy, and the flight's days or hours away.

"That's when they turn those fares over to the Priceline's and Travelocity's," Rush said. "(The traveler) should give up convenience for price as he/she gets closer and more desperate."

The time of year is important, too. You're likely not going to get a $200 round-trip to New York for New Year's Eve, no matter what time of year you book. Too much demand, not enough supply.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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