When is the cheapest time to fly?

Sacrificing Convenience for Cheap Airfares

Another way to save money on airfare is to leave from a less-expensive airport within driving distance. Of course, this only applies to people with more than one point of departure to choose from. Larger cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., to name just a few, have more than one airport close by. If you do consider going to a different airport in your region, don't forget to consider other factors like time and transportation costs such as fuel.

Let's say you live 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) from Atlanta and 125 miles (201.2 kilometers) from Birmingham, Ala. You're looking to book a flight to London and have two options. One, you can fly out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for $1,500, or you can catch a flight out of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International, with a layover in Paris for six hours for just $1,350.

It might seem like an easy choice to drive 125 miles and save $150. An economist wouldn't just look at the bottom line, though. Economists attach a monetary value to time. You need to factor in drive time (two hours), cost of fuel ($50) as well as the six hours of time you'll spend in the airport in Paris. These are opportunity costs. In other words, what else could you have done with that eight hours (six in Paris, two on Interstate 20 between Atlanta and Birmingham)? If you were a landscaper, could you have perhaps mowed a couple of lawns and made $150? If you were a salesperson, could you have called on three new customers that led to a $500 commission? When you spend time, you lose time. How you manage that time can be more valuable than you might have ever thought.

Usually, flights with extended layovers will be less expensive. Also late night flights known as redeyes are often cheaper. Again though, if you decide to book one of these flights, you must take into consideration the value of your time. If you're content with the additional time and don't place any monetary value on it, these types of flights may appeal to you. Everyone has different priorities.

The best approach to finding the lowest airfare is doing your research and spending time searching for a good fare. The deeper you dig, the cheaper flights you'll find. We hope that with this trend information you'll have a better idea of when to plan your vacation. Just remember to be flexible and look at the big picture before purchasing your airfare. And be ready for flight cancelations too -- you may be bumped and forced to fly standby if a plane is completely full. These are all hassles, but part of flying cheap.

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