5 Tips for Finding Inexpensive Airfare from Houston

School will be over in a little over two months and summer travel planning is in full swing! While you’re planning, here are 5 helpful tips to find the cheapest airfare available for you and your family!

1. Use the Internet to Your Advantage

This sounds obvious but there are a ton of helpful resources online to catch a cheap fare from Houston. My favorite of them all is Escape Houston. They cater exclusively to Houston so no time is wasted filtering to see the source of the discount airfare. They also display several sample itineraries to make picking a date a breeze.

The thing about discount airfares is that they are usually short-lived. Most, if not all, deals disappear within 24 hours of being posted. Error fares disappear even faster. Beat the clock by visiting the website often, subscribing to their e-mail distribution, and following them on social media avenues like Twitter.

If you are visiting from a sister site or want additional sites, check out this page of discount airfare sites organized by state :: Discount Airfares by State

 

 

2. Let the Internet Do the Work for You

If you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to sit at your computer waiting for a good airfare deal to pop up, don’t fret. Let the Internet do the work for you! Many sites let you set fare alerts; some are even as detailed as letting you choose the time frame, length of trip, and desired price range of your alert. With this option you can have fare alerts sent directly to your inbox.

My favorite fare alert site is Google Flights. Google will automatically e-mail you if the fare for your desired destination increases or decreases. However, this site works best if you know exactly where you want to go and when.

SkyScanner is another helpful site that will take the guesswork out of things for you. It will even give you airfares without you telling it where you want to go! Simply type “Houston” as the origin and “Everywhere” as the destination. Choose a month to depart and return then let SkyScanner work its magic. It will categorize destinations by country with the least available fare showing in the category. If you expand the drop down it will give you a more detailed list.

Similar to Google Flights, you can also subscribe to price change alerts to be notified if flights to your intended destination changes.

 

There is one caveat with Sky Scanner – their results are not real time. They display an estimate of available airfare based on fares found in the past 15 days. You don’t always find a matching fare when you search for actual flights to book. This site is still useful though. It is incredibly thorough when searching for deals. Just be mindful of the results you find.

Also, most sites post discount fare on Twitter under the hashtag #Airfare or #Flights. Subscribe to this hashtag via your TweetDeck to stay up to date with any posts. Don’t forget to turn on notifications so you can be alerted as soon as possible!

3. Don’t Ignore the Tips

This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one. Most of the nonpartisan flight sites understand the customer’s desire to find the most affordable flight so they are jam packed with information to help you. Don’t forget to use it!

Google Flights, for example, will show you the fare for your desired flight for 2 weeks prior and about a month after your selected dates. You can track the trend to determine the best time to travel. {Hint :: August is usually cheaper than June.}

It will also provide a fare calendar to show how your fare changes if you depart or return on different dates. It is even color coded to show cheaper or more expensive dates. If your dates are even slightly flexible, this is very handy information to have with just a simple click.

4. Remember the Airlines that Prefer to Stand Alone

Not every airline publicizes their airfares on sites like Google Flights and SkyScanner.   Southwest Airlines is the perfect example of this. For the most part, you can only find Southwest Airlines deals on their website.

Frontier Airlines, one of my favorite discount airlines, also doesn’t fully publicize their fares outside of their website. You can find them listed in the flight options on Google Flights but you can’t see their sales or promotional codes there. Visit their website directly for the best deals. Better yet, subscribe to their e-mail list and have those deals delivered directly to your inbox.

 

 

I would be remiss to make a post about discount airfare without mentioning the airline everyone loves to hate :: Spirit Airlines. Similar to Frontier, they only post their sales on their website. Word of warning though. Take their fares with a grain of salt as they do not include the multitude of charges they tack on for luggage, printing your boarding pass, wanting water, breathing while in the air, etc.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Before You Travel or Have a Trip Within Your Trip

One of the benefits of living in Houston is our proximity to several other major cities. Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas often have wonderful fare deals that make the 2+ hour drive worth it.   The good news is these cities also have their own dedicated airfare sites!

These sites also often predict if they expect the deal to also show up in Houston so that you know if you should take the leap – or the drive.

The same thing goes for your destination as well!  Let’s say you are trying to take the family to Washington D.C. Unless you catch a sale, flights directly into DC can be pricey. Consider catching a discount fare into Philadelphia {Frontier frequently has flights to this destination on sale for $29 each way}. From there you can take a bus or a train to DC. You get to add another interesting city into your itinerary and save money!

Bonus Tip #6 :: Be Incognito

Almost all commerce based sites utilize cookies now to track your Internet activity.   The plus side is that content delivered to you is usually tailored to your Internet searches. The bad side is that they can dynamically adjust the price according to your individual demand.

That means if you are consistently searching for flights to Atlanta, for example, the Internet Powers That Be will know that you really want to go.   Your fares will slowly increase with every search. To mediate this, search the sites in a mode that will block long term cookie tracking.   This is called inPrivate Browsing on Internet Explorer, Private Browsing on Firefox, and Incognito Mode on Chrome.

So there you have it! Five 6 easy tips to find inexpensive airfare from Houston!  Happy hunting!

Glossary of helpful sites::

 

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