When traveling any long distance, one often chooses to fly to their destination. Airfare deals can be found if you look in the right places. First of all, some airlines offer deals for flights that may not be during the prime times. Additionally, certain times of the year, such as non-holidays, are less expensive to fly. Another way to find an airfare deal is to check websites other than the airline carrier. Such agents can often offer deals that the airlines themselves cannot. If you do a little research, you can find airfare deals to many different destinations.
How much more would you travel if you could save money on airfare? Buying plane tickets is arguably the most expensive part of a trip. Even a round-trip ticket between two relatively close destinations, such as Atlanta and New York City, can be upwards of $500 each — and that’s just flying coach. Knowing how to save money on airfare and take advantage of airfare deals is the key to traveling more often without breaking the bank doing so. Here are a few tips to help you save.
1. Travel in the Off Season
Sure, vacationing with a lot of other people is fun, but it’s also expensive. Most airlines charge higher rates during the summer months due to the amount of people in the air at any given time. Hotels, attractions, and many locally-owned shops at your destination will also charge higher prices in order to take advantage of the tourism. To save money, focus on flying and visiting at a time of year when travel isn’t that popular.
Even taking advantage of micro-dips in travel during the week can make a difference. Traveling on Wednesday, for instance, is less expensive than flying on Friday. Many airline companies have tools that allow you to compare the cost of flights on certain days of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays in particular are the best time to find inexpensive airline tickets. Take advantage of these to find the lowest cost deals available to you.
2. Don’t be afraid of layovers.
Spending hours in an airport can be boring, but when it saves you hundreds of dollars, it may be worth it. Many people do their level best to avoid flights with layovers, but these flights can often be cheaper than direct flights. Before you depart, take the time to evaluate all possible routes to your destination. If you don’t mind spending a few extra hours in the air or waiting in an airport lobby, you can potentially save a bundle.
3. Don’t rule out different airports.
If there are multiple airports for you to depart from (or land at your destination), check the prices on landing there. Departing from an airport slightly further away than the one nearest you can save money on airfare, as can landing at one aside from the ‘default’ airport. For example, landing at La Guardia instead of JFK in New York City; they’re only a few minutes away from one another, but flights can differ to the tune of hundreds of dollars depending on where it lands.
4. Find out the fees ahead of time.
Nothing is worse than arriving at the airport only to discover you’ll have to pay an extra $150 in random fees. Knowing the fees you’ll have to pay can help you find ways to reduce or eliminate them. For example, different airlines have different policies on checked and carry-on baggage. For a domestic flight, a checked bag may only be $15, while international flights may charge more than $75. Certain airlines allow two checked bags, while some charge extra for every bag over one.
Take the time to learn the intricacies of the airline you’re considering flying with. In this case, it’s important to read the fine print to make sure you aren’t caught by surprise.
5. Remain flexible with departure and return dates.
Unless you are bound by time constraints, being flexible with the dates you leave and return can help you shave costs a bit further. Use the built-in search engines on airfare websites to find the cheapest departure and return dates. While it may affect the duration of your vacation slightly, it can be worthwhile in order to save $200 to $300. It may even extend the length of your stay, rather than reducing it.
6. Keep an eye on the price of your flight.
Many airline companies will issue refunds if the price of your flight drops after you purchased your ticket. For example, if the fare is reduced by $150 after you’ve already purchased your ticket, you can contact the airline and be reimbursed the difference. Very few people take advantage of policies like this; however, they are one of the easiest ways to save money. By taking the proper steps ahead of time to get an inexpensive flight and paying attention after you’ve already booked, you could end up paying as much as 50% of what others do to reach the same destination.
7. Know what tools are out there.
Most people limit their ticket search to the major players: Expedia, Priceline, etc. However, websites like SkyScanner.com, Vayama, AirfareWatchdog, and many others can help you compare prices across a wide variety of airlines. These lesser-known websites can also enable you to find deals you may have missed otherwise. Taking advantage of these tools to shop around and find the cheapest flights is the key to saving the most money possible on airfare.
8. Purchase directly from the airline.
Make use of price comparison tools to find the cheapest deals, and then go straight to the airline to purchase. There are several reasons to do this. First of all, dealing directly with an airline makes any changes you need to make to your ticket easier to handle. For example, cancellations, moving your departure time, and other tasks that crop up during the course of traveling are nearly impossible to deal with when working through a third-party vendor. Second of all, many airlines offer special deals or more miles on your credit card when you purchase directly from their website.
Going direct to the airline can also enable you to qualify for special deals and promotions, such as a free checked bag, potential upgrades to business class, and more. While it’s always a good idea to shop around, purchasing directly from the airline is the best option whenever possible.
9. Weigh your luggage before you leave home.
If you’re a frequent traveler, investing in a luggage scale is an excellent idea. Knowing exactly how much your luggage weighs before you arrive at the airport will prevent you from being surprised at how much you have with you. You’ll be able to pack smarter and spend less on overweight baggage fees. On the other hand, it can also help you avoid any unscrupulous luggage scales if traveling in another country.
10. Pack your own food.
Many domestic flights now charge for food onboard. Rather than paying the exorbitant price for airline food, pack your own snacks in your carry-on. The best items to include are non-perishable foods such as candy bars, granola, or fruit. However, make note that traveling internationally with certain types of food can land you in hot water with security, due to international limitations on the important of agricultural items.
11. Clear your browser’s cookies before searching.
And search in an incognito window. Many airline websites will keep track of the number of times you visit and intentionally increase prices in an attempt to encourage visitors to buy before the price becomes higher. However, clearing the cookies from your web browser upon each visit and browsing in an incognito window with cookies disabled prevents this from happening. You may also need to clear your search history in the process.
12. Know when to book.
Many people think that shopping for airline tickets as far in advance as possible is the best idea, but the perfect time to book, according to some studies, is 47 days in advance. This is the ‘golden window’ when airline tickets are still widely available, giving you your choice of seat, but also at their lowest cost. Even though the price may only be a few dollars lower than at other times, shaving any expense from the total cost of your trip is a win.
13. Don’t fear the red-eye.
While flying in the middle of the night can be exhausting, it can also be inexpensive. Because red-eye flights are the least desirable types of flights, these usually have much lower fares. 5 AM to 7 AM, or after 8 PM is the optimal time to fly. There will be less people onboard the flight and the prices will be much lower than at any other time of day.
Take advantage of these 13 tips to save on airfare for your next vacation. Who knows — with the money you save, you may be able to up your accommodations and stay somewhere particularly lavish.