I’ve always heard conflicting advice on paying for a flight. Some swear you need to book as early as possible to get the best price, while others say last-minute deals are the best bargain. Even though this remains unpredictable, there are still great ways you can save on airfare. When you are booking your next flight, keep these eight money-saving tips in mind to get the best price for airfare:
Just like there are certain days at the grocery store that always seem to have a bargain, you’ll see the same is true with with airlines. Many airlines release sales on Tuesdays and Wednesdays since they are the least popular days of the week people are shopping for flights. “Monday night is when the major airlines announce sales. This triggers airlines to try to match those sales on Tuesday,” Rick Seaney, CEO and co-founder of FareCompare.com says. Once one airline posts deals, others will do the same to compete. Scope the scene Tuesday afternoon for a low ticket price.
According to Susanna Zaraysky, author of Travel Happy, Budget Low, if your departure or return dates are flexible, use airfare search engines to play around with various dates to get affordable tickets. If you can be flexible with the dates and time you travel, it is a huge advantage to saving money on flights. Sometimes booking a day later, or even an hour later, can end up saving you a great deal. Search various dates and times you are available to travel. Some airlines, like Southwest, offer an entire calendar to make it easy to spot when the best time to fly is. Flexibility also comes into play if you don’t mind getting a connecting flight, since many people are so opposed to the idea.
Be a nanny on flight … seriously.
If you have any childcare experience, sign up to be a nanny on your flight. Parents sign up at Nanny in the Clouds if they need assistance caring for their child or children while checking bags, getting settled, and in the air flying. For you, simply type in your flight information and see if there are parents in need of an extra hand. From there, you set your wage and literally get paid while you fly.
Choose another airport.
The same way you are flexible with when you travel should also be applied to where you are traveling to and from. Sometimes choosing a different airport can end up saving hundreds of dollars and be well-worth traveling the extra distance. I had relatives coming to visit me in Chicago that flew into an airport one hour south of me to save several hundred dollars. Since they were renting a car anyway, the money they spent on gas and the time were worth it.
Check deal sites AND airline websites.
Standby websites like Orbitz and CheapTickets.com (and a host of others) offer an overview of what the lowest prices are out there. This is a great start, but a big mistake that people make is not looking at the airline’s actual website too. Airlines want you to book through their site, so they often offer a deal that the travel search sites don’t know about. Also, keep in mind that many airline rewards are only offered if you book through their website.
Get the package deal.
The interesting thing about the search sites mentioned above, is they allow you to book your hotel stay and book your rental car as well as a flight. Booking things together in a package can easily add up to a discount. Sometimes, you don’t even have to do it at the same time. For example, CheapTickets.com offers users booking a flight a promo code good for a 15 percent discount on your hotel. That said, shop around and price each item separately to see if you are truly getting a deal.
Keep an eye out on for a lower price.
You’re excited for your trip, you find a good deal and book your tickets, and you anxiously await take off. But do you ever check back to see if the price went down? I’ll admit that I used to never check back, until I found one day that the price had significantly dropped. Once you book your ticket, watch for the price to go down. If it does, contact the airline to see if they will give you a refund or credit for the difference.
Book a red eye flight or flight with stops.
It may be late, but booking a red eye flight is most likely going to be significantly cheaper. And on that same page, flights with multiple stops will cost less. Sure, it is much more convenient for a nonstop flight, but if you can save hundreds of dollars, it could be well worth the trouble.
Watch for hidden fees.
The best way to save money is to know what you are actually spending. You might see a good deal, but with hidden fees, it can turn out to be much more expensive than you think. Some things you can be charged for include: checking bags, booking fees, food and drink on flight, boarding early, or premium seating. Find out what is included and not included before you book. Also, find out the airline’s policy on changing flights. Some airlines can charge a change fee of $170 plus your new flight’s difference if you need to change your flight.
Keep an eye out for sales and promotions.
Airlines are always offering deals, sales, and other promotions throughout the year, especially during off-travel times. Sign up for airline e-mails to hear about these money-saving offers and receive coupons or promo codes. Also, follow airlines on Twitter and Facebook to hear about deals as well.
Use a credit card to your advantage.
Using a credit card in a smart way can score you free flights or reduced airfare when you fly. If you’re in the market for a new credit card, consider applying for one through an airline. They’ll offer free flights or a ton of bonus points. Plus, when you use your card, it results in points toward free flights.
How do you find inexpensive flights?