“It’s about being flexible on one of the parameters of booking,” said Laura Lindsay, a global travel trends expert at Skyscanner, an airfare search site. “If you are flexible on when or where you want to go and even how you want to go, perhaps flying out of one airport and returning to a different one or on a different carrier, there’s a deal. If you’re rigid, you’ll be fenced into a more expensive fare.”
When you fly can be easiest to adjust. Skyscanner lets users look at prices for a route within a month’s time, letting them find the lowest fares. Google Flights sends price alerts for good fares on any dates on a specified route, and Kayak allows searches using flexible dates.
When it comes to where to go, consider 2023 a summer of spontaneity.
“Let the deal dictate the destination if you can,” said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate, a personal finance website. “So often people get their hearts set on a place and that limits their options. If you don’t care which beach, shop around.”
If you haven’t booked summer flights, do it now. Hopper generally recommends monitoring domestic fares three to four months in advance of travel — many search engines will track specified routes — and buying one to two months out. In summer, it says the best deals are often available three to four months in advance.
Another potential money saver, a practice called skiplagging, allows fliers to book a ticket with an intermediate stop in their intended destination and then skip the final leg of their trip, which can sometimes be cheaper than flying direct. The website Skiplagged assembles available deals based on your preferred airport. For example, it recently flagged a flight from San Francisco to Jacksonville, Fla., with a stop in Miami for $134. A direct flight between San Francisco and Miami was $158. The method, which the airlines hate, requires fliers to book outbound and return tickets separately and forgo checked bags.