Air travel luxury days are long gone. Today we struggle to get an economy ticket at a remotely affordable price as airlines are dealing with expensive jet fuel, labor force strikes, aging planes, and airline mergers. Unfortunately, the situation is not expected to get better.
So what are we, the passengers, to do?
Flight cost is one the biggest expenses of your entire trip, so finding the best deal is essential. If the flight is too expensive you are probably staying home and cancelling your travel plans altogether.
Even as flights are becoming less and less luxurious and more uncomfortable and expensive, we can still find ways to get tickets that will take us from point A to point B without going bankrupt in the process. This is possible with some research, luck, and those saving tips:
1. Overbooked flights
It is very common for the airlines to overbook flights and hope that some passengers won’t show up. If everybody is at the gate, the airline will ask for volunteers to take a later flight. If nobody volunteers, the last people to check-in will be directed to a later flight.
This is why you should volunteer if you can – you’ll get cash or free voucher. Some airlines are so generous that the compensation for such help will cover your ticket price.
2. Talking to the airline
When you shop for a ticket and compare all kinds of travel agencies online, call the airlines directly too. You might find deals that are not posted anywhere, for example from Southwest. When you buy directly, you might run into fewer problems if something about the flight changes.
3. Combine flights and hotels
According to Travelocity, booking the flight and accommodations together can save as much as $500. You can choose any flight and any hotel combination, the packages are very versatile and not lumped together. Getting those both travel hurdles out of the way together will also be very convenient to you.
4. Smaller airports
Choose smaller airports whenever you can and avoid paying top dollar. Fort Lauderdale, Florida instead of Miami, Burbank, California instead of Los Angeles, and Oakland instead of San Francisco are all good examples of alternative airports that can save you money and time.
5. Days of the week
Flight prices are very different on Tuesday versus Friday, so choose Tuesday if you at all can. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are the best days for traveling and thus see the highest prices. The same goes for a day you book your flight. For some reason most airlines list the best prices in the middle of the week.
To be fair we will say that there are people who claim that buying a ticket on Tuesday will not save you anything and that it’s a myth. However, flying on Tuesday is definitely not a myth.
The airlines determine their pricing based on time of the year, demand, weather, major sports events or festivals, time of the day, and competitor prices, so keep all that in mind.
6. Night or early morning flights
If you can deal with a bit of inconvenience, you should book a flight at odd hours, for example – 6 a.m. or red eye overnight. The savings might be worth a bit of suffering.
Looking for the best deal, you should be flexible with your time and be willing to travel around the major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Other times to avoid are August in Europe, school breaks, and tropical destinations in winter. You can still go and visit your dream destination, but choose the time wisely.
7. Buy tickets in advance
If you fly for pleasure, you should book your flights a few weeks in advance, when you see a good deal. Business travelers don’t have such time luxury, but their ticket price gets covered by the company. You can easily save 6% on domestic flights if you book 2-4 weeks in advance.
8. Look for coupons
Shopping for plane tickets should be like shopping for clothing. Airlines often have sales and accept coupons, so never book before looking for such deals. There are plenty of coupon aggregation sites and cash back options to take advantage of.
- 40% OFF Hot Rate Flights
- 60% OFF with Last Minute Travel Deals
- $10 OFF Hot Rate Hotels
9. Don’t park at the airport
If you travel for more than 5 days, skip the airport parking as it can cost $20 per day and quickly add up. If you do have to leave the car at the airport, find a parking lot close buy with a shuttle service and pay as little as $3.99 per day.
10. Special fares
Students, teachers, and military personnel should ask if the airline offers special discounts. They may not, but it never hurts to ask. Students and youth have the best chance to score serious discounts.
If you can’t be flexible with your time of flying, at least be flexible with your chosen location. Google and Kayak provide maps with flights from your home airport and show you the best deals for various destinations, making it easy to find the best price anywhere in the world as long as you are flexible.
12. Look for budget airlines
Back in the day, budget airlines flew only domestic flights, but that’s no longer the case. Now you can fly all over the place on budget airlines, such as Norwegian Airlines, AirAsia, Indian and Middle Eastern Airlines that offer cheap flights half way around the world.
Always watch out for fees when you choose the cheap airline as they can charge for very unexpected things.
13. Don’t fly direct
This is another place to be flexible with. Adding stops can often save a good chunk of money, so don’t be afraid of it and add a bit of adventure to your trip.
14. Search engines
Not all search engines are the same. The largest ones like Kayak, Orbitz, and Expedia won’t have Southwest, Ryanair, and AirAsia, so if you need international budget airlines, go to Momondo, Skyscanner, and Google Flights.
15. Use different airlines
Booking different airlines for the same trip will let you save some significant money. Make sure the times match and you leave yourself enough time to transfer. Use Kiwi, AMEX Travel, and Google Flights for such planning.
16. Points and miles
You should always sign up for the airlines rewards program, no matter how frequently or infrequently you travel and get perks and bonus miles this way. Another way is to sign up for credit cards that offer bonuses in miles for shopping and special surveys. All of that translates into free flights for you and often your entire family.
17. Special deals
Even if you don’t like getting emails with advertising, signing up for airline emails might be worth the hassle as they will send you flash sales and last minute deals that you wouldn’t be able to spot yourself.
18. Buy separate tickets
If you travel as a family of five, don’t look for five tickets together, but instead buy separate tickets and then during the check-in choose seats together. This way the airline won’t be able to charge you the average price per seat, but will go with the best price instead.
19. Different currencies
If you travel abroad, where the dollar is strong to compare with the local currency, always choose your flight in that other currency and you will save a nice amount.