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10 things to know about getting the cheapest summer airfare

10 things to know about getting the cheapest summer airfare
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Theo Thimou |
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Good news for summer leisure travelers: Airfares are likely to be 3% cheaper this summer versus last year, according to CheapAir.com.

But if you want to score a real deal on a flight this summer, here’s what you’ve got to know…

Read more: 15 tips and apps to make your travels cheaper and easier

You’ll want to skip the Sunday flights

The cheapest days to travel this summer will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays, according to CheapAir.com. If you stick to those days, you’ll save an average of $77 and $78, respectively, versus flying on a Sunday.

The cheapest individual dates to fly are…

CheapAir.com has crunched the numbers and found the cheapest days to fly this summer will be June 1, June 4, June 7-8, June 14, July 26, August 23-24, August 31, Sept. 7, Sept. 10, Sept. 13-14, Sept. 17 and Sept. 20-21.

Stick to the “Final Four” of cheap days

Sure, March Madness may be over, but summer travel is just heating up! If you want to land the absolutely cheapest flights, aim to fly at least once on this quartet of days: June 1, July 26, August 31 and Sept. 20.

These will be the four cheapest days to fly, bar none, all summer long.

Follow Clark’s #1 rule of cheap travel

Clark has said it for years, but it bears repeating: Buy the deal first and then figure out why you want to go there!

With that in mind, Kayak Explore lets you find great airfare deals on a budget. You simply select how much you’re willing to pay, and then available destinations in your price range pop up on a world map. You can drill down further by season and month of travel.

Know how far out to book to get the best deal

The Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) is basically the back office of ticket selling for the nation’s airlines. Recently, this organization monitored airfare data continually over a 19-month period and found that the cheapest time to buy a ticket is generally eight weeks before you travel.

That synchs nicely with the recommendation from CheapAir.com, which found that booking 54 days in advance is the magic number to get a great deal on a flight.

No matter which number you go by, one thing is clear: Now is the time to book for summer travel. You snooze, you lose!

Know the best day to buy an airline ticket

Conventional wisdom held that it was Tuesday or Wednesday. Not so anymore, says ARC. Their new recommendation is book on a Sunday as your first choice, followed by Saturday. Weekend airfare shopping is in! Now, this is a general rule; it’s not true for every ticket. But overall, if you’re looking for a cheap fare, why not give it a try?

Keep your eye out for pop-up airfare sales

A couple of years ago, Southwest announced a summer airfare sale during the first few days of June for late August travel through mid-December (except Friday and Sundays). The cheap fares were quickly matched by pretty much everybody across the industry. Be sure to sign up for e-mails from your favorite carriers so you’re in the know about these kinds of airfare sales.

Tap into the power of social media

Try following airlines on social media because that’s where people are getting some of the lowest fares today. The airlines want to put out unpublished fares that will not be matched by others. Social media lets them attract a customer and not have to compete with each other. It’s a win/win for everybody!

Beware of travel clubs promising free travel

“Vacation clubs” promising free travel are again being pushed by postcard, e-mail and telephone. The basic m.o. is you’re told you’ve won a vacation, but you have to call in to claim your “prize.” Turns out you’re required to make an appointment to hear what amounts to a sales pitch. They’ll typically try to get $5,000 or $6,000 from you, stringing you along all the while with the promise of free travel, cruises and more. Don’t fall for it!

Avoid baggage fees by not checking a bag

Only one discount airline — Southwest — still allows you to check up to two bags without paying a fee even when you buy the cheapest available fare. Of course, not everyone lives in a market served by Southwest. So there’s still one other way to avoid baggage fees no matter which carrier you’re flying: Don’t check a bag.

Consider traveling only with what an airline permits free as a single carry-on — usually a 22x14x8 piece of luggage. You’ll never have to worry about the airline losing your baggage!

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