11 Mistakes To Avoid the Next Time You Book a Flight

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Flight Fails

While we tend to associate traveling and going on vacation with hefty expenses, it doesn't always have to be that way. With a combination of thoughtful planning and a few clever tricks up your sleeve, you can enjoy a memorable trip without draining your wallet. 

Since the most expensive part of a trip is usually securing plane tickets, figuring out how to work around this financial hurdle is conquering half the battle. From forgetting to set price alerts to booking too early, here are 11 mistakes to avoid while buying plane tickets.

Boarding the plane, departure lounge.

Not Having Flexible Travel Dates

While this strategy won't work for those who have tight travel plans or can only get specific days off, being flexible with your travel dates can help you score cheaper plane tickets. Sometimes changing your departure or return dates by a day or two can result in surprising savings. Online platforms such as Google Flights, Kayak, and SkyScanner provide convenient tools that allow you to explore different dates, destinations, and prices.

Busy airport travel day

Buying Tickets on the Wrong Days

Buying plane tickets on weekends when demand is higher will likely cost you slightly more compared to booking during the week. You may have heard from frequent travelers that Tuesday is the best day to buy plane tickets. According to a study conducted by Google, tickets were indeed found to be 1.9% cheaper when booked on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, compared to the weekend. More significantly, the study found that flying during the week was approximately 12% cheaper than weekend flights. 

Red-Eye/Early Morning Flights

Avoiding Red-Eyes

Red-eye flights — which are scheduled to depart late in the night and arrive early in the morning — are typically more affordable compared to regular flights due to their less desirable travel times. While waking up in the middle of the night to catch a flight can be exhausting, it does come with a few perks on top of helping you save money, like fewer crowds while going through TSA. 

Worried woman having problem buying online

Not Comparing Prices at Nearby Airports

Another good way to score cheaper plane tickets is to broaden your search to include nearby airports — especially if your departure or destination city is located close to airports that serve as connecting hubs. Chances are higher that you'll be able to snag cheaper tickets at a major airport compared to a smaller one. Just be sure to factor in transportation and accommodation costs to determine whether the savings are worth the added travel time. 

Spirit and Frontier Airlines
Boarding1Now/istockphoto and Laser1987/istockphoto

Always Buying the Cheapest Fare

While it may be tempting to click on the most basic economy fare, it may not always be the cheapest choice. Budget airlines typically offer bare-bone amenities that do not include add-ons like seat assignments, checked bags, and even carry-on luggage. When you factor in these added expenses, they could end up costing more than the main cabin fare from a legacy airline. To avoid falling prey to this, familiarize yourself with the carrier's rules and carefully read the fine print before deciding to buy. 

Man Holding Credit Card And Using Cell Phone holding credit card with shopping online

Not Taking Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

If you travel often for work, you're likely already familiar with credit card programs that allow you to accumulate points and miles through your travels. Leading travel credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Capital One Venture, allow you to earn generous airline points and miles with everyday purchases. Check with your credit card provider to see how you can maximize rewards to save on various travel expenses, including plane tickets, hotels, car rentals, and more. 

Related: TikTok Travel Hack Shows How to Score Free SkyMiles (And It's SO Easy)

Man working at home on his laptop computer

Not Setting Up Price Alerts

If your travel plans are flexible, setting price alerts through sites such as Hopper, Kayak, and Google Flights can help you find more affordable plane tickets. When you set an alert, you'll be notified via text or email when a cheap deal rolls around. Setting price alerts can also be helpful for booking last-minute tickets, as airlines will sometimes slash prices to try and fill as many seats as possible on upcoming flights. 

Related: 12 Ways to Snag Cheap Last-Minute Flight Deals

credit card on keyboard - buy tickets online

Booking Too Early

If you've been told to "buy your tickets as early as possible," I hate to break it to ya, but that belief is outdated. When you book too early, airlines may not have released their most discounted fares yet, leaving you to pay more than necessary. "Booking more than six months ahead can cost you since airlines set their initial prices conservatively," says Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper. The sweet spot to buy is generally 76 days before your trip, a study by CheapAir.com found

Related: How To Save Money on Flights Using Google's Price Guarantee Program

Back side of traveler with luggage standing over the flight board for check-in at the flight information screen in modern an airport, travel and transportation with technology concept.

Not Booking Legs Separately

If you have a more complex itinerary that requires multiple layovers, booking each leg separately can offer larger savings than if you were to buy the first option that airlines generate. With this strategy, you might hop on a flight on one airline to a larger airport, and then fly out on a different airline to your final destination. Just be sure to allow ample time in between flights in case of delays or other unforeseen circumstances. 

Related: Why Is Spirit Airlines So Cheap — and Is It Safe?

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Overlooking One-Way Tickets

While opting for a round-trip ticket is generally more affordable and easier to deal with, there are instances where booking separate one-way flights can unveil unexpected savings — especially if you're open to flying with different airlines. This strategy tends to be most effective when you're flexible with your choice of airlines for the arrival and departure legs of your travels. 

Beautiful elderly businesswoman speaking on smart phone while working and writing notes in notepad
Inside Creative House/istockphoto

Not Calling In

Sometimes calling an airline directly to inquire about cheap last-minute deals or same-day flights can result in surprising savings. Some travel agencies also offer bundle vacation deals that include airfare and living accommodations that could fit your travel plans and budget. If an airline is dealing with last-minute cancellations, you may even be able to snag tickets at a very good price, so don't be shy about asking; you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. 

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