Tips on cheap and efficient air travel

Tips on cheap and efficient air travel »Play Video
Fewer people are flying, so the airlines continue cutting back on flights. Fewer flights mean fewer seats to fill.

While there will be some limited fare sales for summer vacation travel within the U.S., travel experts tell me they don't expect any major system-wide blowouts this year.

If you want a bargain, think international. There are some serious discounts on flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and Europe.

Last year a round-trip flight to Europe was about $1,000. Now they are more like $500 to $600.

If your travel plans include a plane flight, you want to get the best deal possible. Here are a few insider tips from the folks at FareCompare.com.

You'll get the best price if you fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Those are the days most business people don't fly. The airlines need to fill those seats with leisure travelers, so they often have lower airfares that are only good on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

FareCompare says based on its data, the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday.

The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight in the morning. That means getting up really, really early. But you can sleep on the plane.The next best flight times are around lunch time and the dinner hour when a lot of people prefer not to fly.

I want to tell you about my last flight. I flew to Philly last week to see my family. I spent most of Sunday flying home.

My non-stop U.S. Airways flight was delayed, and then canceled. When the gate agent made the announcement, there was a mad dash to the service desk.

I was near the front of the line, but it was moving very very slowly. The next non-stop was in nine hours, but I knew there was a flight to Chicago in about an hour.

So I grabbed my cell phone and called the airline's toll-free reservation number. Much to my surprise, and agent answered right away and got me on that flight to O'Hare Airport with a connection to Seattle.

By making that phone call, I had put myself at the front of that long ticket line and snagged one of the few seats available. Keep that in mind if you find yourself in a similar situation.

One more tip: get to the airport early. If the airlines need to bump people off the flight and can't get enough volunteers, the last to check in are the first to be booted off.

For More Information:

The Cheapest Times to Fly and other Tips from Air Travel Insiders