Now that our family of five has moved to California, travel will become a distressingly large part of our annual expenditures. Already we flew back to Wisconsin for a family wedding in October, and now I just booked a trip for all of us to return for the holidays as well.
When I first searched for flights on Kayak and the new Hipmunk, I was afraid we might have to cancel the trip. Both sites were showing me round trip costs of $700 or more per person. And a search from the front door of Southwest didn’t find anything much better.
But then I noticed that Southwest is advertising a fare sale through Nov. 15 on the front of the site, and by clicking through that, I managed to book our trip at a cost of $350 per person, after all taxes and fees. Now, all the flights from the fare sale are available when you search through the front door. The only reason we’re paying less is that we changed our dates in order to get the fare sale prices. The difference is, the fare sale interface makes bargain hunting a lot easier than the regular search.
So if you’re still looking for holiday flights and are flexible about dates, here’s how you can do what I did:
2) Read the terms. The clue to when to book holiday flights, if you are flexible, is right there in the blackout dates list: “December 20 – January 6.” I didn’t actually read that part before I searched, but the prices led me to book our outbound flight on Dec. 19. We were able to find an affordable return flight before the blackout ends, on Jan. 4.
3) Click “View Cities and Fares” to get this list of cities and the starting price for each one. Choose your cities.
4) Now you’ll see a screen where you select not a departure and return day, but a whole month. I selected “December” for departure and “January” for return. Then click “search.”
5) Bam! You are looking at a calendar with the lowest fare for every day of the month. You can click on different tabs to see fares in a different month, or click each day on the calendar to see the various fares available that day. I found it much easier to use this calendar to find the low fares than to use the regular booking tool.
Do you have any other tips for finding bargain flights?