Yesterday, Online Travel Agency (OTA) Expedia released their “2023 Air Travel Hacks Report: U.S. Travelers Can Save On Airfare By Booking And Traveling On This Day To Avoid Flight Delays.” According to them, these “data-backed tips help save travelers time and money.”
Expedia takeaway: Plan wisely by taking advantage of price alerts, as timing is KEY when it comes to hacking air travel.
Our main takeaway: Don’t listen to Expedia. Here’s why, as we shoot down their strategies one by one.
Expedia: When to book: Sunday.
“Book on a Sunday to save up to 15% on average.” They say that’s been true for four years.
BOH: When to book: Tuesday through Thursday.
Airlines flying to Hawaii continue to offer the best prices on Tuesdays through Thursdays, albeit not exclusively. We have seen this pattern repeatedly, as recently as in the deals offered by Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines in the past month.
Expedia: How far in advance to book: one month before.
“Book at least a month before domestic flights to save 10% on average. The sweet spot for snagging the best price on domestic flights falls between 28 – 35 days before departure – so about a month in advance of travel. Travelers that booked during that period saved 10% on average compared to those who waited until the last minute (0 – 2 weeks out). Domestic airfares have been more expensive in the 3.5 – 6 months before departure, so try not to book early.”
BOH: How far in advance to book: It is entirely dependent on the season.
A. If you are traveling during holidays, mid-June to mid-August and spring break especially, book up to 330 days in advance, or when airlines open their booking window. That provides the best availability and options and generally the best prices for these non-discounted times. Note that only Southwest doesn’t work with a 330-day booking window and they have their own.
B. If you are traveling at other times, book within the last 90 days for still good availability and best pricing.
Expedia: Book with confidence using Price Tracking and Predictions.
Expedia says, “Last-minute flight deals are increasingly rare, so it’s smart to opt into price alerts on the Expedia app and get notified when fares are expected to be at their lowest – essentially taking the guesswork out of deciding when to book.”
BOH: We wouldn’t rely on Expedia for tracking or predictions.
Expedia’s Price Drop Protection?
Expedia says, “For even more peace of mind, take advantage of Expedia’s Price Drop Protection, an optional add-on that automatically refunds the difference if the price of the traveler’s purchased ticket decreases on Expedia prior to travel.”
BOH: Price Drop doesn’t work on all airfares and there are too many exclusions.
That’s an optional add-on that purports to automatically refund the difference if the price of the traveler’s purchased ticket decreases on Expedia. They will track and compare “prices against flights on Expedia that exactly match your flight. For example, the same carrier, flight class, and route… Price Drop Protection is offered only on select flights… Determinations of eligibility for a Price Drop Protection Payment are at the discretion of Expedia.”
BOH: More reasons not to use Expedia.
We don’t like booking either accommodations or airline reservations with OTAs. The reason is you have just put one big roadblock in between you and the company providing the service. That’s virtually never a good thing, especially should any issues arise.
You can save money without Expedia. While Expedia last minute deals and sales might look appealing, a little scouring will reveal that in almost all instances, you will get a better deal when booking directly with the provider. That may require that you have a free loyalty program number, but that’s really not more than a minute’s trouble.
Furthermore, working directly with the provider, in the case of a hotel stay, can mean perks that aren’t available on Expedia. In a recent stay your editors had, that included free buffet breakfasts and free parking, which don’t come cheap.
Expedia Travel Insurance.
Expedia says “We partner with AIG’s Travel Guard to offer you 2 travel insurance protection options.”
BOH: Expedia travel insurance probably isn’t your best option.
While you can purchase insurance from them, they are not the provider there either and so you have one more hand in the pie, both in terms of your process and in terms of the money getting split up. In almost all cases, travel insurance will be less costly, have more options, and be more complete when purchased from the insurance provider.
Moreover, you might not even want to buy additional travel insurance; always check first for travel benefits associated with credit cards you may already have.
Expedia: How to avoid flight disruptions.
Depart before 3pm to reduce chances of cancellations. Flights “that depart after 3pm have the highest chance of being canceled – a 50% higher chance, on average, than those that depart earlier in the day.”
BOH: We concur on that point and do so whenever possible.
Expedia: When to travel: Wednesday.
Depart on a Wednesday to save up to 15% on average.
BOH: Not true.
Many sales in competitive markets include the same best rates on most days of the week. Saturday is typically excluded, however.
Expedia: “How to save on every trip.”
“Book your airfare, hotel and car hire at the same time on Expedia. Otherwise known as bundling, this can instantly unlock hundreds of dollars in savings.”
BOH: Not true.
You are better off checking first about booking these independently to see how that compares in detail. Or, if booking air, accommodations, and car rental together is of interest, consider checking Costco Travel. Many of you have reported better deals with them.