The number one thing would-be travelers can do that'll kill them in the wallet this year? Procrastinate. And we're all guilty of this; as that famed philosopher Anonymous once said, "If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done."
Nobody seems completely sure why we put off important and not-so-important tasks; we just might be wired that way, but my guess is that the "fun factor" is key. I mean, what would you rather do, perform a necessary but mildly tedious chore like searching for airfare or going to the multiplex to see if it's true that Hangover II really isn't as funny as the original? By the way, I'll show you how searching for airfare need not be a chore in the least, in #4.
That's right, I have a list for you. The sins of airfare shoppers. You'll notice that many of them have to do with our old friend, procrastination, though there is one "sin" that involves the exact opposite.
Take a look; maybe I can't make airfare shopping a heavenly experience but if you avoid these sins it will definitely be more rewarding because you will save money.
The Six Sins of Airfare Shopping (and how to avoid them)
Sin #1: Shop Too Late
What's too late? For legacy carriers, meaning the old boys network of airlines including Alaska, American, Delta, United and US Airways, "too late" usually means less than two weeks before travel. Most of these airlines require a 14 day advance purchase to get their cheapest airfares, although low cost airline with overlapping routes are sometimes an exception to this rule.
For low cost carriers such as AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue and Southwest, you usually have to purchase a week (seven days to be exact) before you travel or be treated as a business traveler with deep pockets.
Sin #2: Expect to Find Last Minute Deals
A few years ago, it was not only possible to get deals at the last minute, it was possible to find out-and-out bargains, and that was never more true than for Thanksgiving 2008. Back then, prices had been sky-high, more so than usual during this priciest time of the year, so people assumed they couldn't fly and didn't. That left the airlines holding the bag with too many empty seats and the great airfare price slashing commenced.
Since then, the airlines have done more slashing, but on seating capacity; so don't expect much in the way of great last minute deals again. Sure, there will always be a few here and there; and I'll show you how to grab those, shortly.
Sin #3: Assuming Last Minute "Emergency" Fares are Available
An illness or a death in the family used to be taken care of with what were called "bereavement" fares, and there are still a few (very few), but they won't save you much. For example, United has "compassion" fares that give a ten percent discount. However, one would typically book such a fare at the very last minute, and those fares can be incredibly high. For example, if you want to fly United from Dallas to New York's JFK two weeks from now (as of this writing), a roundtrip ticket will cost you a total of $436. Book it for tomorrow, and it zooms to $1,687. While I appreciate the airline's compassion, knocking 160 bucks off that fare isn't much of a help.