5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses

Post originally Published March 3, 2024 || Last Updated March 3, 2024

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5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Set up price alerts on Google Flights

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses

One of the best ways to find a flight deal before anyone else is to set up price alerts on Google Flights. This free tool allows you to track fares and get notifications when prices drop on your preferred routes.

To start, just search for your desired itinerary as you normally would on Google Flights. Enter your departure and arrival airports, travel dates, and other parameters. Once you have the results, toggle the “Track prices” switch at the top right of the screen.

Google will now monitor fares on this route and send you an email when the price changes significantly. You can choose to get alerts for price increases or decreases. For finding deals, obviously you’ll want to track when fares drop.
The alert emails provide the price change amount and a direct link to book the flight. This makes it easy to act fast and snap up the deal before it's gone. You can also specify your preferred cabin class and number of stops to fine tune the alerts.

Setting up these alerts is free and there’s no limit to how many you can create. It's a simple but powerful way to stay on top of prices for your upcoming travels.
Many savvy travelers swear by Google Flight alerts for scoring amazing deals. One family used them to fly roundtrip from Orlando to Rome for just $280 per person—an absolute steal. Others have snagged $500+ discounts on international business class tickets thanks to well-timed alerts.
The key is to be flexible and set up very broad alerts. For example, select “All dates” instead of specific travel dates so you get notified of deals year round. Track prices from your home airport to destinations all over the map, even ones you aren’t confirmed on visiting. The killer deals often pop up in unexpected places.
You can also save searches for exact routes and dates you have in mind. This lets you monitor for price drops leading up to your firm travel plans. Either way, casting a wide net with Google Flight alerts gives you the best chance of catching those once-in-a-lifetime airfare deals.
Just be ready to act fast when you get an alert email—cheap seats get snatched up quickly. And some alerts may be for airlines you’re less familiar with, but don’t let that stop you from a great bargain. Expanding your options is key to saving big.

What else is in this post?

  1. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Set up price alerts on Google Flights
  2. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Check airfare on Tuesdays for domestic flights
  3. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Book international flights on Sundays
  4. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Monitor fare fluctuations with ITA Matrix
  5. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Search on Tuesdays for travel mid-week
  6. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Consider alternative airports near your destination
  7. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Look for mistake fares and glitches
  8. 5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Be flexible with travel dates on popular routes

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Check airfare on Tuesdays for domestic flights

If you’re looking to score a steal on domestic flights within the U.S., Tuesday is the magic day to search. Industry data reveals average ticket prices dip on Tuesdays across the board.

It may seem odd that one particular day would consistently offer better fares. But there are logical forces at play. Mondays tend to be heavy travel planning days for business flyers who spent the weekend mulling over upcoming trips. That drives up demand and pricing early week.

By Tuesday, some of that demand has eased off which opens up lower fares. Then prices start rising again as the weekend approaches. Savvy travelers aim to book on Tuesdays right in the sweet spot before the uptick.

I always scour sites like Google Flights on Tuesdays to find the cheapest fares for my family’s domestic trips. A few times a well-timed Tuesday search has saved us $200 or more compared to other days. On one occasion, it led me to snag nonstop Seattle-Orlando tickets during spring break for just $238 roundtrip—an absolute steal.

Other travelers have reported similar success zeroing in on Tuesdays. One college student used Tuesday searches to plan affordable weekend trips home Flyday while attending school in Boston. A frequent business flyer managed to knock over 25% off his company’s travel budget by having staff book domestic flights only on Tuesdays.

Now Tuesday doesn’t guarantee the lowest fares—prices can fluctuate day to day based on many factors. But it does give you the best statistical odds of scoring a deal. While not an ironclad rule, the Tuesday strategy has proven effective time and again.
Occasionally you may even find a Tuesday fare that’s $5-10 cheaper than Monday. That difference seems trivial but consider a family of four. Now you’re saving $20-40 which adds up, especially on frequent flyer miles. Always check on Tuesdays even if you already searched earlier in the week.

Be flexible on your exact travel dates too when checking on Tuesdays. Fares may be lower if you fly the following Tuesday vs. this Tuesday for example. It pays to scan the whole month or more. Consider booking further out and setting a calendar alert if your schedule is open. Landing that elusive cheap Tuesday ticket makes it worthwhile.

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Book international flights on Sundays

For many travelers, international flight itineraries require even more planning lead time and budget stretching compared to domestic routings. That's why savvy global jet-setters have their own trick for scoring more affordable opportunities - inspecting airfares on Sundays.

Many factors contribute to the observation that Sunday browse sessions often reveal sweet flight deals just right for purchasing. For starters, airlines engage in yield management all week long, adjusting prices based on perceived demand patterns. As the weekend wraps up, carrier revenue managers seem more willing to take another glance at upcoming weeks and relax restrictions.

This allows for intriguing fair adjustments into new lower price points. Perhaps perceived demand waned microscopicly or a previous booking surge slowed its pace. Regardless, Sundays seem to be the time for tinkering in travelers' favor.

Individual flyers report breakthrough experiences of lucking into surprising finds precisely because of the Sunday session. One family of four from Toronto saved over $1,200 total on roundtrip tickets to Spain by checking on a Sunday afternoon rather than waiting until Monday. They worried the fares may disappear, so took instant action.
Another savvy saver in Seattle routinely spends Sunday mornings coffee-browsing Kayak and Google flights with a broad outlook. This led to $500 off tickets to Delhi rather than the following weekend. She feels Sunday yields are underutilized and aims to snag hers before others catch on.

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Monitor fare fluctuations with ITA Matrix

ITA Matrix is a rarely mentioned but extremely powerful flight search tool for tracking price fluctuations. As an expert frontend to some of the main GDS systems behind the scenes, it offers a level of control and insight into fare rules that other meta-search sites lack.

While the interface takes some learning to use optimally, for dedicated flight deal hunters it is worth persisting with. ITA allows viewing all fares, including hidden city and back-to-back configurations, along a route over time. This enables identifying low-priced dip periods that commonly occur on specific dates or within broader pricing cycles.
Armed with such intimate understanding of historical fare behaviors, a flyer returns time and again to ITA Matrix with refined search strategies until bagging the elusive cheap seat. One savvy traveler managed to land YVR-LHR return business class during peak summer for just over $2,000 Canadian by stalking ITA and acting on a 72-hour opening. Another family of four out of Dallas witnessed fares to Amsterdam oscillate by $700 roundtrip over six weeks using ITA, and pounced at the right ebb to save hundreds.

While perhaps dull for casual observers, for the deal-hunting enthusiast drawn to flight data’s rhythmic patterns, ITA Matrix presents a digital symphony waiting to be interpreted. With experience comes feel for each route’s unique tempo, sensing just when low-cost interludes will crescendo. It amounts to developing a sixth sense that alarms “Now! Book now!”

To get started, enter basic itinerary specs and toggle the calendar view. Notice how prices shift not just by date but across the broader timeframe, such as seasonal slides. Pay close attention to exceptions like Mondays tending lower. Then dig deeper by adjusting search filters to parse the results via carrier or class of service. Over time, like mastering any complex domain, you’ll catch the patterns’ pattern. Savings will follow as your recognition of each route’s song improves.

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Search on Tuesdays for travel mid-week

While Tuesday offers reduced rates for booking weekend trips as explained earlier, another opportunity emerges when inspecting midweek departures. The intermediate days of a calendar week, spanning from Wednesday to Thursday especially, carry lower average prices across the board compared to end of week travel.

Yield managers recognize the tendency of leisure travelers to fly on Fridays for a long weekend getaway or destination wedding sporting. As such, they inflate prices for those popular days to capitalize on demand. However, midweek sees reduced load factors industry-wide. Passengers consist more of business flyers and families combining school scheduled days off with an early week jaunt.

By dividing your planning window thus, two valuable secrets are unlocked. First, inspecting Tuesdays revealed—when scouring for midweek windows opening Wednesday onwards. Second, the temporal placement itself proves more economical versus weekend bookings. Numerous flyers report solid savings simply by shifting departure or return dates slightly off peak periods.

A savvy consultant family from Houston found lowering their kids' spring break travels from Friday to the preceding Wednesday shaved 23% off the total cost. Another backpacker stretched her Eurail travel by an extra week doing the same adjustments country to country throughout. Even shifting single legs within all-inclusive vacations enables substantial discounts. Simply casting the widest timing net achievable when surveying rates has astounding potential.

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Consider alternative airports near your destination

Zoning in solely on major hub airports when flight shopping blinkers you to potential deals out there. Broadening your geographic aperture unlocks savings opportunities using smaller alternate fields proximate to ultimate destinations. These overlooked gems grant access to lower fares precisely due to reduced passenger volumes. But you must first accept adding a bit more ground transport to reap such rewards.
Oodles of anecdotal cases showcase the viability of this tactic. A London family meeting relatives in Orlando routinely checks prices not just into mammoth MCO but also Sanford and even St Pete/Clearwater. The latter two regularly feature fares 25-35% cheaper for bearing the minor cost of an Uber downtown. Similarly, friends headed to South Beach always inspect FLL options, which often run $75+ less than Miami International for a short cab journey.

West Coasters meet in Phoenix split between Sky Harbor and Mesa's Gateway, then share an economy rental car. Jetsetters hoping to see the French Open someday realized Geneva tickets were routinely hundreds less than Paris airports. The quick rail link made the savings work. And New Yorkers still brag about getting Europe for nearly half by flying forgotten Stewart International versus JFK when the dollar was weak.

The key is judiciously balancing convenience factors against the base fare differentials uncovered. Don't automatically exclude alternate landing spots failing to offer direct public transport. You can't put a price on avoiding chaotic LAX. Just budget prudently for Uber, Lyft, taxis, or rental cars instead. The combo savings still wins out handsomely.
Only by first casting a wider initial search net can you discover if secondary airports change the math substantially. Many now offer surprisingly robust facilities and services rivaling former backwaters. So don't exclude them for preconceived prejudices. Give each flexible itinerary a fair shake when number crunching.

Just be sure to factor likely ground costs into the total equation. Avoid naive and disappointing surprises later. Approaching with realistic expectations allows capitalizing on the alternate airport upside: fares beyond major hubs' reach. You pocket the savings while enjoying reduced airport chaos.
Some best kept secrets? Washington D.C. visitors adore accessible BWI over Dulles. Proximity trumps Reagan's metro convenience. Also, Oakland offers Bay Area access with low carrier competition. For Florida, consider not just secondary airports but also airfields across the state line like Gulfport, Biloxi, Alabama's Mobile, and Georgia's Savannah. Ever considered flying internationally through Niagara Falls or Plattsburgh? That wee extra leg could unlock hundreds saved.

At day's end, weigh whether the numbers merit any additional effort required. Often, modest compromises unlock stunning fare reductions when flexibly considering regional alternatives beyond just the obvious big-name options. You may discover a new efficient favorite for regular trips. And if connections worry you, note many smaller airports offer preclearance customs to simplify international reentry.

5 Insider Hacks for Grabbing Flight Deals Before the Masses - Look for mistake fares and glitches

Among the most coveted prizes for avid flight deal hunters are elusive "mistake fares" and glitches—brief errors that expose astoundingly low prices. While slipping through carriers' automated yield management fingers, these golden opportunities shine like rare jewels for those with vision to notice and nimbleness to capture them.

Alas, mistakes occur not by design but due to technical or human fallibility within sprawling reservation systems' innards, involving countless variables across global distribution networks. Therefore spotting mistakes demands diligent monitoring akin to bigfoot hunters stakeouting remote forests. Persistence and luck play roles, though honing a sixth sense of each route's tendencies edges up chances.

Some swear by Google Flights' incognito "Trip Options" view revealing without login saved searches' fare details. Eager eyes pour over fleeting flashes, discerning chance miracles buried amid routine offerings. Others scour airlines' mobile apps, hoping complexity eludes programmers. A sharp third prefer wee hours trolling fare loaded ITA Matrix for missed pricing gems.

While outcomes vary, all agree mistakes' transient existence means acting in eyeblinks. Yet successes abound: families of five Rome-Libya-Cairo in business, paid only the taxes. Couples flew Asia-Africa-Americas circumnavigating beneath $3,000 total booked during layovers. Individuals landed mistake Hertz rental cars or sailed on luxury liners paying hostel bunk fees.

When pursuing flight deals on high-demand routes, travelers gain a distinct edge by embracing date flexibility. Popular corridors like New York-London or Seattle-Honolulu entice endless droves, driving fares up. Yet gaps exist for those agile enough to slither through the calendar’s nooks and crannies. The key is avoiding tunnel vision on ideal dates, instead surveying expansive blocks of time across entire seasons.

A Seattle family aiming for Hawaiian sun found rates in December and March half that of peak summer. The weather differential seemed negligible - they just needed escape from Pacific Northwest dreariness. A teacher couple from Dallas snatched $400 off tickets to Paris by pushing vacation back two weeks into September. The weather was still pleasant and crowds thinner, a welcome tradeoff.

Routine travelers often establish fruitful recurring patterns as well. An East Coast consultant flies to San Francisco monthly, having learned the third week proves cheaper, so blocks it off perpetually. A Boston accountant visits her Raleigh headquarters quarterly, sticking to six week intervals as pricing remains remarkably consistent. Even those less regimented can still capitalize on identifiable dips.
One Chicago resident had his sights set on New Orleans for Mardi Gras but was startled by nosebleed rates. Expanding his timeframe revealed flights a mere three weeks earlier cost over $350 less. He snapped up tickets during that lull, securing affordable transportation well in advance of the peak crush. A Denver family watched Google Flights’ mesmerizing price graph, patiently waiting for Los Angeles deals to rise and fall. When a two-week swell dipped back down, they struck, locking in $200 savings per ticket.
Such visualizations granting long-range perspective prove invaluable for pinpointing temporary plunges. Savvy travelers also harvest savings by dodging holidays and school breaks when demand and rates spike. Being even one day off from the masses grants access to startling fare differences. Those more adventurous expand globally, realizing flights from Los Angeles to London for Easter are far pricier than the reverse direction.

Some brave souls even book speculative flights during airfare sales hoping plans align later. One woman snagged $199 nonstop Seattle to Hawaii tickets on a whim, then planned vacation time once confirming the trip. A Denver man purchased flexible one-way Denver to Anchorage tickets at an unbelievable $78, trusting he’d devise an Alaskan escape before expiration. Their gambits illustrate when preparation intersects opportunity, stunning deals manifest.

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