As noted before, airlines know when and where you want to fly, and they charge accordingly. Shatter their expectations! Fly at lunch time or later in the evening — fly when no one wants to.
This is where those red-eyes come in. Naturally, no one wants to travel on an overnight flight, and that's why they're cheaper. Not many folks like to travel in the middle of the day either, because it "burns" a vacation day. That's why those seats are generally cheaper as well.
And yes, you would get more time out of your weeklong vacation if you depart Friday of the first weekend and return Sunday of the second, but you'll really save by flying Wednesday to Wednesday.
5. Quit procrastinating. It used to be, people would start shopping, oh, 30 days before they went on vacation, but that won't cut it anymore. I recommend you begin the shopping process about four months ahead of time.
You will see when sales typically occur, and your technology will alert you to the best available deals and the way prices are trending. It's like going to a fine seafood restaurant and ordering the lobster: There's no visible price, just the words "market rate." You don't want to play that game with airfare now, do you?
So yes, deals are getting harder to find, but they are out there. Unfortunately, the reality of our current economic woes dictates that the traveling public must make sacrifices: you don't get to fly any old time you like any more. So shatter expectations.
In other words, you have to give a little, in order to get a little — a little more bang for your airfare buck.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.