Avoid fees and fly for less this summer

May 16, 2011: 4:15 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- If you've not been flying the friendly skies recently, it might have to do with those pesky fees.

Consumer Reports new survey of 15,000 passengers found 40% of respondents said they're flying less because of increased fees, far more than those who blamed flight delays or poor service.

Rick Seaney of Farecompare.com says even though there's been no major increase in fees by the airlines recently, if oil prices creep up for any extended period of time this summer, you may see attempts by the airlines to add on more fees for that checked bag, snack or pillow.

And you might be paying more for that ticket. Seaney expects about a 15% increase in the cheapest fares for summer travel compared to last year.

But, before you cast away dreams of a weekend getaway or a vacation in the sun this summer, there are a few ways you can still fly for less.

Tip 1. Don't book too early

First, we've all heard the myth, the earlier you book the better, but Consumer Reports says you rarely have to book more than 90 days in advance -- 21 days ahead of your trip will get you a good rate.

Now, be aware, Seaney says airlines are treating the upcoming summer travel season like a busy holiday and charging premiums for travel between June 9 and August 21.

But there are deals out there, so he advises to start shopping online around Tuesday at 3 pm ET, when new deals are usually posted.

Tip 2. Pick a cheap day to fly

Try to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, which are generally the cheapest days to fly, Seaney says.

The most expensive days? Mondays, Fridays and especially Sundays, since that's when people often return from vacation and cheap seats are few and far between.

However, if you're looking for an inexpensive, last-minute trip, he says the best deals are found in Thursday to Monday travel or Friday/Saturday to Tuesday travel.

Tip 3. Get onboard with online deals

If you want to save a little on that next flight, make some more room in your e-mail box. Sign up for the airline's frequent flyer program or e-mail offers and snag those promo codes, which can get you discounts up to 50% off.

When it comes to booking online, more than 70% of flyers said they booked their flights directly on the airline's website, and 55% said they compared prices on other sites before choosing an airline, according to Consumer Reports.

Shopping around for the best airfare online can be maddening, so before you click "buy," double-check the airline's site, since there are often more flight choices, and seldom booking fees.

Finally, get tweeting. Many airlines are using Twitter to post deals, but you've got to jump on them quickly, with some fares selling out in two hours or less.

A few tips to land the best fare possible, and go from the office to the beach in no time.  To top of page

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