Cutting down on the cost of air fares can dramatically reduce the price of your trip. In this article you’ll be able to read advice about:
- Booking in advance
- Where to find cheaper tickets
- Being flexible with your schedule helps
- Whether you’re entitled to a discount
Summer might be over, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year coming up, you might be thinking of visiting family or friends or just need to get away from it all. For any holiday or weekend break, your greatest expense will probably be paying for travel to your chosen destination. To help you, we have compiled our top tips to buying the cheapest possible flights. Whether you are planning your trip months in advance or on the lookout for last-minute offers, we have the solution.
Booking in advance
You can usually pick up cheaper air fares if you book your air tickets in advance. The optimum time to buy depends on your destination. Generally you should start looking around for plane tickets 70 days beforehand for domestic flights and 21-121 days before your desired travel date for international destinations.
Where to find cheaper flights
Most people know how to use the search engine on a flight map or travel site. However, don’t forget to use more than one because some don’t consider international air carriers or budget airlines. Using several sites will give you an overview of everything that’s available and increase your chances of finding affordable tickets.
The pros and cons of budget airlines
Some passengers aren’t big fans of budget airlines because they’ve cut down their service to the bare essentials, but they can be the cheapest. If you go for a budget airline, don’t forget to check their extra charges.
Some charge for everything from printing your boarding pass to extra fees for carry-ons or checked-in luggage. Make sure you know what you’re paying for to avoid an unpleasant shock at the airport which will make your cheap ticket not so cheap after all.
Special offers from larger air carriers
Larger airlines can be as economical as budget airlines if you know how they operate. You should sign up for a mailing list from the major airlines. As they review the capacity of their planes, they often release details of last-minute special offers usually at the beginning of each week. These discounted tickets are often available for a brief window of only 24-36 hours and can be easily missed online. With your advanced warning, you’ll be able to snap them up quickly. As well as email notifications, you should follow your favorite airlines on social media to receive information about other last-minute deals.
It might also be worth signing up with airline’s reward programs. You may be entitled to free flights, upgrades and even free companion tickets through air miles. Many domestic airlines work in close cooperation with other foreign airlines. Find out who their partners are and you’ll be able to use the points you earn for international travel too.
If you have your heart set on a specific destination, you’ll find it more difficult to find cheaper flights. However, if you just need to get away and are more flexible, you’re sure to find tickets which are more economical.
Even if you have a specific place to go, maybe because you’re visiting relatives, all is not lost. You should try to be flexible about the airports you use. When searching online, don’t limit yourself to the airport which is nearest your home or your travel destination. If you expand your search, you might find special offers leaving from, or arriving at, airports 50-100 miles away. Although it adds to your journeying times, the potential savings could cover your hire car and still leave you some extra cash in your pocket.
Investigate the possibility of not flying direct and using different airlines for each leg of the journey. It will take longer to research and add to your traveling time, but it will save you money. If you break your journey in this way, don’t forget to allow at least 3 hours at your stopover to be sure of making your connecting flight. Also, be flexible about when you travel. If you travel at times and days when no one else is interested, you’ll be sure to pick up a bargain. For example, flying on a red eye or at the crack of dawn will give you more options to make savings while it can be much easier to find cheaper seats on mid-week departures (especially Tuesdays and Wednesdays) rather than on the weekends.
Are you entitled to a discount?
If you’re a full-time student or under 26, you might be entitled to a student discount. This can cut 20-30% off the price of a standard air fare. You should contact the airlines directly to see if you might be eligible for other discounts. These include discounts for government employees and military personnel, seniors, and passengers traveling in groups.Discounted fares may only be available on certain routes and/or at select times.
Investigate the possibility of not flying direct and using different airlines for each leg of the journey as this will save you money.
Did you know that some airlines still offer bereavement fares if you’re traveling to attend a funeral of a loved one? These tickets have to be booked by phone directly with the airline and are only valid for 7-14 days. You might also be asked to supply details of your relative’s primary care physician and/or the contact details of the funeral home. You could also use the rewards from your credit card sign-up bonus or from online shopping, surveys or other special deals to reduce the price of your air travel.
Conclusion – How to beat the system
Airlines use complicated pricing algorithms to set their air fares which take into consideration such factors as the time of year (including whether there are any major holidays coming up); passenger demand; time of day; the weather and their competitors’ prices of air fares. However, there are ways to beat the system and make savings on how much traveling by plane costs you.