This is a much debated topic! Our latest Twitter poll revealed that 86% of British travellers don’t know when they should be booking their flights to bag the best deals. By creating Price Alerts, you’ll be able to check the price of your chosen flight, and book when the flight ticket is the lowest. In general, you should be looking to book your flight no later than seven weeks before you want to jet off. However, the exact time frame does differ according to your chosen destination. To get exact timings on when to book the cheapest flights, try our The Best Time To Book tool.
Most cash bookings can be upgraded with Avios either at the time of booking or later on, depending on availability. Only the lowest economy (World Traveller) fares (Q, O and G) cannot be upgraded with Avios at any time. There must be reward flight availability in the next cabin for you to be able to upgrade to it using Avios. You won’t be able to upgrade with Avios at the airport or on board.
If you get through security and have not been able to upgrade yet, stop at the gate desk to ask to put be on a list if upgrades become available; the practice of overbooking exists in part because folks with refundable airfares often decide not to fly at the very last minute, and seats can come loose almost right up to the point the aircraft doors close.
Certainly it wasn’t all chance that brought first-class upgrades floating one’s way, and a heavy battery of hard and soft tactics arose to increase your chances. Dress neatly, speak politely, fly the same airline regularly, inquire when offering your frequent flier number to the telephone booking person, stand a little taller at check-in if you can (for the tall-person sympathy upgrade), volunteer to give up your economy seat so a family might sit together, volunteer to be bumped on an overbooked flight.
If you’re looking for a specific flight on a specific date, Flight Fishing may not be for you. If you’re a bit more adventurous, you may score an exciting airfare. Registering on Flight Fishing allows you to set up a deal alert that could be as specific as one airport to another, from a specific airport to a region, or as general as from your preferred airport to anywhere.
Yapta.com: The newest entrant in this burgeoning field. There are two things you can do here: first, if you've already bought a fare, you can enter the flight locator number and then you'll get an alert if the fare has gone down. (Some airlines will refund the entire fare difference in the form of a voucher good for future travel within a year; others deduct $25 to over $300, depending on the fare and route.) But there's also a "Tagger" feature where you can track fares on individual flights, not just routes between two cities.
Search for a flight on Skyscanner, then click the ‘Get Price Alerts’ button and enter your email address. If the price of your flight goes up or down, we’ll send you an email to let you know of the change. This service is totally free of charge, and you can change your alerts or unsubscribe at any time. Note that you must select the exact airports and dates to set up a Price Alert.
A flight alert tracks the price of a specific route or flight. When the price changes, you’ll be notified via email or push notification if the price went up or down (and by how much). Flight alerts are completely free and can be stopped at any moment. It is also possible to have multiple price alerts set up at once which is a great option if you are comparing vacation destinations. It really is a must-have tool, especially for budget travelers, because flight alerts are hands-down one of the best ways to find cheap flights, fast.
We here at TPG love a solid loophole, and that’s what Skiplagged is all about. The app finds the cheapest fares by digging into what’s called “hidden city ticketing.” This means that sometimes booking a flight beyond your chosen destination is cheaper and your desired destination is simply a stop along the way. For example, if your flight from New York to Atlanta is coming up super expensive, Skiplagged may find a flight for half the price where the final destination is Fort Lauderdale, but Atlanta is a stop on the way. Clearly, some may consider this a grey area, and the airlines sure do. That’s why United sued Skiplagged, but Skiplagged won, so the app continues on! Keep in mind that you may have to make sacrifices for getting these cheaper fares, like not checking a bag (because it will end up at the final destination, not your desired one). This app is free to download.
Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Andrew Phillips, Senior Technical Manager, recounts his lucky American flight upgrade: “Flying to the US a few years ago, I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind I think) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her…all the way up to business class!”
Having a hip chipmunk find the best airfare may initially seem weird, but the Hipmunk app makes things super clear, with user-friendly charts that map your journey by price, time of day, airline, length of layover and even whether or not your aircraft has Wi-Fi. The app will also track flight prices and provide notifications when the best time to buy is. The “discover” feature offers deals on destinations like Canada or Mexico, and also offers inspiration like “beaches” or “outdoor.” Once you’ve booked a flight you can also reserve a hotel, too. This app is free to download.
It’s worth a shot, right? According to the Telegraph, a MoneySavingExpert.com poll showed that 4 percent of participants said they received a free upgrade just by asking someone at the check-in desk. When you do ask, have a good reason: There’s a better chance you’ll get your request if you have a valid excuse, such as being pregnant, celebrating a special occasion, or being exceptionally tall.
Here’s where the power of ExpertFlyer comes into play. Let’s say that I wasn’t interested in crossing the Atlantic in economy. Instead of coming back to the site multiple times in the weeks and days leading up to my desired flight, I can actually set up a flight alert by clicking on the exclamation point icon (red arrow in the above screenshot). That would open up a window like this:
However, Airfarewatchdog.com does not offer individual city pair alerts (although this is in the works); rather, if you sign up for alerts you'll get a list of fares from your chosen airports that the staff believes are unusually good deals. And the site doesn't monitor nearly as many routes and fares as some of the other sites on this list. Uniquely, however, each list of fares from a given airport also includes fares from nearby alternate airports on one page, and you can put your alerts on "vacation hold" for up to a year.
For eligible customers travelling on International flights with a Latitude (booking classes Y and B) or Premium Economy Flexible (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “P” booking class at time of request. For eligible customers travelling on North American and Caribbean flights with a Latitude (booking class Y, B) or Premium Economy Flexible fare (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “Z” booking class at time of request.
ITA Software Classic Matrix Tool - This tool allows you to search for fares in different sales cities so that you can accurately plan purchases in any city around the world. Additionally it has an undocumented feature that allows you to specify specific fare buckets. If you want to, for instance, search for A bucket availability on the HKG-JFK route on Cathay Pacific you would enter the search as From: HKG:: cx+ / f bc=a and To: JFK:: cx+ / f bc=a. You can substitute the "cx" with the proper airline code for the airline you wish to check, and substitute the "bc=a" with "bc=X" where X is the fare bucket you wish to check. If you wish to check multiple booking-codes and not place any restriction on the airline format the request as JFK::/ f bc=x|bc=y|bc=z to check the x, y, and z buckets. Another undocumented feature is the ability to request multiple segments on specific carriers (useful for mileage runs). If you want to travel from Los Angeles to New York and take 4 American Airlines segments, you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA AA AA AA and the destination city as JFK::AA AA AA AA. This will search for a 4 segment connection in each direction on AA. You can also force connections in specific cities. So, for instance, if you wanted to connect in STL from LAX to JFK on American Airlines you would enter the departure city as LAX::AA STL AA and the destination city as JFK::AA STL AA You can find the syntax by clicking "advanced routing codes" and then clicking on the little question mark next to the routing codes box. There is also a useful discussion of how to use this tool to the fullest on Flyertalk.
Travelocity.com: Travelocity, as far as we know, was the first travel agency site to offer a fare watch system. Once upon a time, it tracked both international and domestic fares, but now only covers domestic/Canadian deals. To use it, go to the "Flights" tab and then to "Low Fare Alert" and then click on "Get email alerts" in the upper righthand corner under "Tools". You can sign up for alerts on up to five routes. On the Low Fare Alert page you'll also see a list of fares, from any given city, that have gone down in price from the previous day. Travelocity searches fares just once a day, however, compared to Farecompare's three times a day Monday-Friday.