It’s time to board! That flight should take you to your desired destination, not the bank. Trying to save money on flights can be a tedious job that takes a lot of research, but that work can seriously pay off. I’m here to teach you how!
Try a few of these tactics to ensure that you are not only getting the best price, but the best flight times and seats.
Buy on Tuesday Mornings
Over the years there have been numerous industry studies that show buying your flight on Tuesday morning is the best time and day for a deal. You can do your research beforehand so that you know which airport to fly into, which airlines are best for getting you to your destination, and what time of day is ideal for you. That way when the morning comes around you can quickly search and score the best price. So make a calendar alert to remind you to search and book your flight Tuesday morning – it could save you a lot of money on your trip.
Avoid Busy Travel Days
We all like to travel for the holidays and sometimes we don’t have a choice of which days fly, but when you do have the opportunity to be flexible you can save a lot of money. Big travel days like the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the day after Christmas, or New Year’s Day are expensive and crowded – neither of which are fun. If you can fly during the week or at off times (like early morning or later at night) you can save a lot of money. It may also be worth saving your vacation days for other times of the year when you can use the same money for a longer, and possibly cheaper getaway.
Research Your Destination
Just because you’re visiting a particular city, doesn’t mean that is where you should fly into. Some locations have several airports that are worth investigating. It can pay to know which airlines fly into which destination so that you can find the best deal.
For example, I often find myself heading to the east coast. I sometimes go to parts of Maryland, DC and Virginia, so I find myself looking at flights to both DC airports (DCA, IAD) and Baltimore (BWI). If needed I tack on a short Amtrak ride to my final destination (this typically costs around $30). I never take the same combination of flights to the same airport, as the prices change and I’m always looking for the best deal.
Other places likes Dallas (DAL, DFW) and Chicago (MDW, ORD) both have two airports that are close to the city but serve different airlines. If you tend to buy your flights on consolidated booking sites like Kayak, then make sure you search flights to all airports in a city and not just a specific airport code. When in doubt, do some research on airports close to your destination. You may find a better flight and for a better price!
Sign Up For Price Alerts
If you’re not finding the price you like, try signing up for price alerts. Most of the consolidated booking sites let you sign up for email alerts for price decreases to your desired destination. They collect information like your city of origin, destination, dates and desired number of stops, so they can find the best price for you. You just sit back and wait for a better price.
Keep in mind this works best if there’s still some time before you fly. If it is too close to when you leave for vacation chances are the prices won’t be going down.
Book in Advance
Whether domestic or international, it’s always smart to book your flight well in advance. Not only are the prices less expensive, but you’re also guaranteeing that you get the flight times and seats that work best for you. They say to book international flights at least 4 months out for the best price, however with domestic flights the absolute latest you want to buy is a month before you fly.
Sometimes we can’t help that our vacation plans develop last minute, so if you’re trip is less than a month away just be prepared to pay the last minute price.
Book One Way Tickets
This may sound counter intuitive as we tend to believe that websites give us a deal for buying roundtrip flights. This isn’t always true. Sometimes the multi-airline flights you can buy online don’t combine the two flights you desire or they don’t include airlines that only sell tickets on their own website. Making your own round trip by buying two one way tickets may work in your favor.
Beyond the upfront cost, buying two one way tickets can be a good way to save money in case your plans change. Unfortunately most airlines charge change fees for when your vacation dates or times change. Not cool. This can impact your entire round trip ticket which can be very difficult to deal with. I suggest buying two one way tickets, one flight there and another back home, just in case.
Many times I’ve changed or simply cancelled a one way ticket and lost less money on it. That’s because the new one way flight I purchased was cheaper than any change fees I would have incurred by having to change a round trip ticket. By booking your flights separately you don’t have to worry about having to pay change fees so you don’t lose the one way flight that still works for you. Keeping flights separate can be cheaper and easier to deal with in the event your vacation plans change!
Look On Airline Websites
Yes you can definitely find some good deals on booking websites like Travelocity and Kayak, but there are airlines that don’t allow their flights to be shown on those sites. This means you have to actually go to the airline websites for the deals. Airlines like WOW, Southwest, and Norwegian Air have amazing domestic and international deals if you take the time to check out their websites.
What’s even better is that some of these airlines have fare sales throughout the year, where one way tickets are under $100. But if you don’t look, you’ll miss it. So spread your search beyond the easy 1-2-type of the consolidated booking sites. There are deals to be had elsewhere!
Join The Loyalty Programs
This can be a huge money saver!! I belong to many frequent flyer loyalty programs and they have saved me so much money over the years.
You can approach this in a couple ways. First off, if you fly an airline, you should join their frequent flyer program or use your number from an airline that partners with them. The goal should always be collecting miles whenever you fly. Second, try to fly the same airlines or their partners. You can limit yourself to one or a handful. The goal here should be to ensure that your miles accumulate in only a couple programs so that they are usable more frequently.
Once you have the miles saved up it is very easy to redeem them for either flights or goods. The immediate thought it to use miles for future flights, which if you like to vacation a lot, can be a great way to save money. However, if you only travel occasionally, you can use your miles to buy products off the airline website. Many airlines partner with a variety of companies where you can use miles to buy apparel, gift cards, and other fun items for you and your home. If you’re going to fly then you might as well make some money back in the best way that works for you.
Do Your Research!
Most of getting the best bang for your buck is doing the research up front. The more you fly the better you will become at figuring out which tactics and online tools deliver the best return for you. Flights can be one of the biggest costs of your vacation, so doing the work before to save some money on flights when you buy can make the difference when trying to stay in budget.
Written By Hilary Byrnes from LifeofTravels.com