New York City is one of the most sought after destinations in the world.
However, sometimes getting there can be a bit tricky.
Though there are three major airports near NYC, affordable fares are not guaranteed. Fortunately, there are some tricks to seeking out the cheapest flights to New York City.
Below we’ve put together the best secrets to finding cheap flights to NYC.
You should consider checking out TripAdvisor’s booking system. They are affiliates with many of the discount search agents.
1. Take a Red-Eye
If you really want to save on cash, take a red-eye! Depart late at night and arrive in the very early morning hours. Red-eye flights tend to be much cheaper and this will cut down on your accommodation costs. Plus, watching the sun rise in New York City can be a wonderful experience!
2. Visit After a Holiday
Did you know that you can find a cheap ticket to New York just after a holiday? Fares tend to drop tremendously after the hustle and bustle surrounding a holiday. Take your trip just after Thanksgiving and you’ll have something to be thankful for!
3. Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday
The golden rule of finding a cheap ticket to New York is to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. If you can, avoid flying on Fridays or Sundays. Plane ticket prices can vary widely depending on the day of the week. Some search engines such as Skyscanner, which lets you compare flight prices by month. Once you have an overview of the prices, search for flights on those dates. Many airlines launch sales on Tuesdays so have your credit card handy. Again, flexibility is the key to getting the lowest priced flight. This means flying during off-peak hours. The least expensive flights tend to depart in the early morning or late evening.
4. Purchase Your Ticket During the Prime Time Frame
Keep in mind, booking your flight too far in advance or too close to your departure date may limit your ability to find lower priced flights. The prime time-frame to purchase your ticket is no earlier than 4 months prior to your departure and no later than 3 weeks. Buying your ticket within two weeks of your departure date will almost never get you a reasonably priced ticket. If you are a whimsical traveler, you can find great last-minute flights by signing up for alerts from various websites like Airfarewatchdog or The Flight Deal. However, don’t rely on this option thinking you will get a bargain. It could backfire.
5. Utilize Flight Search Engines
We suggest you start your search by using flight search engines. These are sites that hunt down the best prices offered by airlines and online travel agents (OTAs). Search engines are different than OTAs in that search engines find you all the fares out there but they do not sell you the flight.
When you select your flight, you are redirected to the company offering that fare. On the other hand, with OTAs, you purchase the ticket from their website directly. The most well-known OTAs are Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz.
However, more and more, travelers are using search engines to locate the best fares since search engines scour the internet to offer you an enormous number of flight options. These sites are very user-friendly and enable you to experiment with your travel plans to find the cheapest fare.
The best search engines are JetRadar, Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo, Google Flights, Hipmunk and Bing Travel. If you are feeling courageous, check out Matrix ITA which is a travel industry search engine and isn’t as user-friendly. But it can find very low fares if you know how to use it. Check out this guide to using Matrix ITA and give it a go!
6. Mix and Match Your Airlines and Airports
Most airlines now sell one-way tickets at reasonable prices and you might save flying out on one airline and returning on another. All the major search engines allow you to search for one-way fares. By combining 2 one-way fares on different airlines into a round-trip, you can save substantially.
Also, look at flying into one airport and departing from another, such as flying to Newark Airport and flying home from JFK Airport. Not only might you find cheaper fares, but you’ll see more of New York!
Fly into a nearby city and bus it to New York If you have the extra travel time and would prefer to save some money, take a look at flights into nearby cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C. These cities are a few hours away from NYC and bus tickets can cost as low as $10 and you might be able to save a bundle.
7. Sign Up for Airfare Alerts
Almost all search engines, airlines and OTAs allow you to sign up for price alerts. You simply enter your departure and destination cities and when ticket prices plunge, you’ll get an email immediately. You can even set-up your alert to notify you only when an airfare drops below a specific amount. A favorite among travelers is Kayak Alerts and Airfare Watchdog.
8. Use Social Media
Airlines and travel companies are now using social media like Twitter and Facebook to alert flyers to sales. But be prepared to book your flight fast. Deals that show up on social media go fast. The Flight Deal is especially important to follow on Twitter and Facebook. The Flight Deal is a website run by savvy travelers who are very talented at finding low fares. Besides posting deals on their website, they tweet daily, sometimes hourly with great deals. Recently they tweeted out this excellent deal between New York and Miami.
9. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Using your student I.D. card may save you money. One well-established student travel agency is STA Travel. Some others are Student Universe and Student Flights.
10. Join a Frequent Fliers Program
Don’t be deceived: you don’t have to fly a lot to get a free flight! There a multitude of ways to earn miles (sometimes called ‘reward points’), however the easiest way to do so is by signing up for a credit card that offers a sign-up bonus. Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses rewarding you with an enormous number of miles — 30,000, 40,000 even 50,000 miles, which is enough for a free round-trip!
The only requirement to receive a sign-up bonus is to spend a certain amount of money (usually between $1000 and $3000) within the first 3 months of opening the account. To ensure you receive that bonus, make all your purchases on a credit card Earn miles by using your credit card instead of cash. Use your card to pay for everything you possibly can – groceries, phone bill, gas and so much more. You’d be surprised how all the little things add up!
Also, earn miles by shopping online The major airlines have special offers for companies like Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and Target, just to name a few. If you are going to order online anyway, why not get an extra little bonus! Remember that a little effort now, will grow into enormous value later on, when you bank enough points to get a free flight.
To find out about all the various ways to earn miles, check out The Points Guy and Flyer Talk.
11. Become Part of an Airline Alliance or Loyalty Program
If you travel a lot, try to travel on the same airline. Even if you pay a few dollars more, it’s wiser to accumulate miles so you can enjoy a free flight sooner than later. Also, most airlines partner with other airlines and form “alliances” and you can earn miles and redeem miles by flying on one of their partners. Google Flights allows you to search for flights by alliances, narrowing down your options to airlines that partner. American Airlines is part of the OneWorld alliance, Delta is part of SkyTeam, and United is with Star Alliance.
12. Get a Refund if the Price Drops After Purchase
What could be more frustrating than purchasing a ticket for what you think is a great price, only to find out that the next day the same ticket got even cheaper! It’s a little known fact that many airlines offer refunds if the price drops on a flight you already purchased. The easiest way to find out if the price drops on your purchased flight, use Yapta, a website that tracks airfare prices and sends you an alert if the price goes down on a flight you’ve already bought.
+++And once found your cheap flight to New York, check out our many pay-what-you-like walking tours of New York City!+++