FLYR: How To Find Cheap Flights
This Article Originally Appeared On GetFlyr
On average, travelers spend over 6 hours planning their flights for each trip. Wouldn’t it make sense to take just 5 minutes to learn how to book the cheapest flights, saving up to $569?
While fares for most U.S. domestic routes are highly competitive, they are also extremely volatile. Read on as we tell you everything you need to know about cheap flights, concluding with our 5 winning strategies to save on airfares.
HOW MUCH CAN I SAVE ON MY U.S. DOMESTIC FLIGHT?
Many travelers wonder if it’s worth all that time and effort to look for cheap flights. We have an easy answer for this: absolutely.
To better quantify your potential savings, we look at the difference in fare between the best available deal and the worst price you could pay for the same seat, given all the different dates that you could travel if booking today.
We at FLYR call this the “Best-to-Worst Ratio” for airfare pricing.
Avg. Price/Mile US Domestic Average$0.27
Avg. Cheap Ticket US Domestic Average$326
Avg. Distance to Destination US Domestic Average
DESTINATION AIRFARE VOLATILITY
Best-to-Worst Ratio US Domestic Average3.4
Best-to-Worst Difference US Domestic Average$569
Exp. Avg. Cheap Ticket Increase– Tomorrow+ $1.80– Next Week+ $9.70Number of Price Changes Next Week1.31
US Domestic Average
SAVINGS OPPORTUNITY: HIGHWhile the average U.S. domestic round-trip coach ticket is priced at $326, with a minimum of $238, the Best-to-Worst Ratio is 3.4x. In other words, in the worst case scenario on your trip, you could end up buying the very same seat at up to 3.4x the minimum available fare, or $807! — depending on the length of your stay, how far in advance you book your ticket, and other money-saving strategies.
Airfares and the Best-to-Worst Ratio also vary significantly by route. On specific routes, the Best-to-Worst Ratio can reach up to 14.5x:
From San Francisco (SFO) to Los Angeles:
- The average price today for round trip cheap flights is $200, with a minimum at $145
- The Best-to-Worst Ratio is 3.0x
From Los Angeles (LAX) to New York City (NYC):
- The average price today for cheap flights is $471, with a minimum at $278
- The Best-to-Worst Ratio is 4.7x
From New York (NYC) to MIAMI (MIA)
- The average price today for cheap flights is $308, with a minimum at $207
- The Best-to-Worst Ratio is 5.4x
From Chicago (ORD) to New York (NYC):
- The average price today for cheap flights is $255, with a minimum at $125
- The Best-to-Worst Ratio is 5.4x
From Seattle (SEA) to Denver (DEN):
- The average price today for cheap flights is $312, with a minimum at $198
- The Best-to-Worst Ratio is 2.9x
Here are the Best-to-Worst Ratios for the 20 most popular destinations in the US:
BEYOND THE FARE
While your biggest savings by far will be associated with your airfares, here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Check TripAdvisor’s convenient page for baggage fee information
- Consider the quality of your flight with Route Happy
- Be mindful of various cancellation fees and how to avoid them with this great article by The Points Guy
WHEN TO FLY and WHEN TO BUY to get the cheapest flight?
The most important strategy to save on airfares is to optimize when to travel, and when to book for your trip.
Travelers know that airfares tend to go up over time, but did you know that fares also often drop? In fact, the average fare goes up 28 times and down 25 times in the 180 days before departure. That means that the price of your flight will change at least once every three and a half days!
In addition, fares can change up to multiple times per day. On average, 1 in 4 flights that pop up during any online search will change within 24 hours.
What you need to know to save on airfare:
- Airfares vary drastically between weekend and weekday airfares, with weekend flights (including extended weekend trips) being priced up to 3x higher than weekday fares.
- The 14-day and 21-day advance purchase cutoffs are significant for flights. On average, expect an increase of 34% if you book less than 3 weeks in advance (vs. if you booked before), and an additional increase of 14% if you book less than 2 weeks in advance.
- Historically, the optimal time to buy cheap roundtrips is about 85 days before the departure date.
The FLYR fare calendar below summarizes the fare movements in the next 6 months, with “blackout” departure dates identified in red (these will be the most expensive days to travel). Pick a departure date shown in green, and you can maximize your chances of getting a great deal on your round trip flight for most return dates.
Currently, the best deals are:
- Chicago (ORD) to Philadelphia (PHL), currently at 51% below average.
- Philadelphia (PHL) to Chicago (ORD), currently at 48% below average.
- Orlando (MCO) to Houston (IAH), currently at 46% below average.
- Cleveland (CLE) to Orlando (MCO), currently at 46% below average.
- Baltimore (BWI) to Orlando (MCO), currently at 45% below average.
CURRENT DEALS AND CHEAP FLIGHTS
Here are some great deals available now:
- The cheapest roundtrip price found for departures in the next six months is: $81 from Dallas (DFW) to New Orleans (MSY) on Spirit Airlines departing on September 9th and returning September 12th. (Details and Lock In)
- The cheapest one-way price found for departures in the next six months is: $29 from Cincinnati (CVG) to Atlanta (ATL) on Frontier departing on August 20th (Details and Lock In)
5 STEPS TO CHEAPER FLIGHTS
To save, follow those 5 tips on your next trip:
- Use FLYR to predict fare increases. If you need time to decide, you can use the FareKeep tool to lock in today’s price and minimize your risk on the best flight deals for as little as $3 for 7 days.
- Try to book 3 weeks or more in advance.
- Be flexible on dates and consider leaving on a weekday.
- Avoid the expensive travel dates shown on the FLYR fare calendar, above.
- Email Us with your travel dates and itineray and we will find you the best and cheapest flights.
Created and Updated by the FLYR Research Team, as of July 20, 2015