Posted July 2, 2013 by Steve McDonald in Backpackology 101

Airfare Secrets (Vol. 1): I’m Going to Smash My F#%$*& Laptop

GET READY, because in this week’s thrilling revelation of Backpackology 101, I’m taking a break from the usual topics of dangerous countries, hitchhiking, and things that are interesting, to instead talk a lot about buying airfare online. Woah!

If you think that sounds as exciting as a jar of mayonnaise languishing on a window sill—that’s because it is! I hate writing this. In fact, I can only dwell on the subject for so long before I suffer involuntary rage blackouts and start smashing my fists against the keyboard and JJJKND;;DES;F4/;FR;AEJKN32RJKN


Savvy airfare booking is an essential travel skill—if not a delicate art—yet most people seem extravagantly naïve on the matter. Flying on the cheap demands strategy and craft. The aim of this series is to instill you with these skills, while also providing general advice on how you can make the airline industry your diminutive bitch. Despite popular misconceptions, purchasing a plane ticket isn’t as straightforward as going down to the store and buying sweatpants. Prices are never set in stone, but fluctuate dramatically day by day, hour by hour. This installment will teach you how to interpret all this data to snare the cheapest rate possible, by predicting the exact right moment to buy.

Step #1: Try to Grope Your Sweet Spot

If you think you’re going to score a last-minute bargain on your flight, you have a better chance of getting wild, mid-flight felatio from the entire cabin crew and captain. In the digital age, airline companies have become extremely efficient at filling their planes ahead of time, and so the elusive “Last Minute Deal” has gone the way of floppy disks, chivalry, and Gator Golf.

Generally the closer you get to the date of travel, the more expensive your ticket becomes, with major price hikes occurring twenty-one days, fourteen days, and four days before take off. Alternatively, be careful not to book too early—special offers rarely occur before eight weeks in advance. The sweet spot lies six to eight weeks before departure, when discounts are available on rates that are still low. This isn’t a guarantee however, so it’s wise to start monitoring prices as early as four months in advance; you never know if some special deal or holiday sale will pop up. It’s often said that airfare boring airfare airfare jar of mayonnaiseDFJ;LN;;F  DJKL SAKQF K FE;’LLLLL

Step #2: Form of: Prostitute!

When booking airfare, I find it’s helpful to pretend that you’re a desperate crack-bartering hooker:

First, remind yourself that it pays to be flexible. Also, your pricing depends on which day of the week you put those salty peanuts on your tongue. Fridays and Mondays tend to be busier and more expensive, due to all the traveling businessmen looking to get serviced. It’s generally cheaper to get off when business is slow, between Tuesdays and Thursdays or on Saturdays. Lastly, when you’re initiating a transaction don’t forget to specify that you’re flexible—you might find yourself several hundred dollars richer if you’re willing to hit the runway a bit later or earlier than you planned…

There should be a “Flexible Dates” ticker-box just under the search bar.

Step #3: Bing’s Magical Robot Future Machine

So you’re now in the sweet spot six to eight weeks before departure and you’re sitting in front of your laptop, credit card at the ready, dressed in your secret latex hooker boots of shame. The last nugget of wisdom you need to know is that the ticket price will change depending on which day of the week you make the purchase. Mondays and Tuesdays are your best bets, as airline companies run their specials at the beginning of the week. But again, this is never guaranteed, so you must have patience, grasshopper.

If you happen to live in 2013 and don’t understand patience, fear not! The geniuses at have got you covered: Using algorithms and technology hocus-pocus college words, they have created a future device! They call it “Price Predictor” (a bit unimaginative). It can prophesize whether you should buy now or wait, and also predict how much the price will rise or fall by and with what percentage of confidence it has reached this conclusion. As of now, Price Predictor only works on domestic US flights, but soon it will be smart enough to forsooth international flights and lead other computers to rise up against the humans.

The internet is overflowing with similarly ingenious, money-saving airfare tools, but if I spend any more time thinking about them or how to make this fucking topic any less dry than it inherently is, I’m going to start looking for sharp implements to end my harrowingly tedious existence.

So I’ll save all that for volume two, when I’ll discuss flight search engines, dodging airport taxes, and BD’’ FJLSKJFR IFDFI;; DJKNS;;ASD



For more crafty tips and tricks for budget travel, check out the Backpackology 101 tab in the menu above.

Cheap flights often require hard layovers. Prepare yourself by checking out, “How To Endure a 14-Hour Layover

To find cheap vacation ideas, check out Backpackology’s “Top 10 Free Vacations

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Steve McDonald

Writer and photographer. Adventurer and didactic prick. Guru of globetrotting, sensei of savings. PhD in ADHD. Staunch opponent of the mundane. Avid fan of sunrises, playing with fire, and pretending to know what I’m talking about. Casual existentialist. Bus stop gypsy. Dirty jeans, plastic sunglasses, whimsical death wish. Rudyard Kipling on mushrooms. Smells of goat.