Trying to save money on flights doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark.
While we may not be traveling much these days, I know that a lot of us are itching to relax on a sandy beach, sip espresso in a French café, or eat gelato as you walk through a foreign city’s cobblestone streets.
The simple strategies discussed in this article will help you to save money on flights when that day finally comes.
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When trying to save money on flights, planning is definitely your number one ally. The sooner the flight date, the higher likelihood that you will pay top dollar. Booking in advance could save you considerable amounts of money.
For example: A flight from Los Angeles to Chicago can cost you $180 round trip planning 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Same flight last minute can cost you over $300 one way!
A recent business trip to Chicago inspired me to write this article in the hopes that I could help you avoid paying a higher price like I did. Sometimes life happens and you may have no choice other than to book and pay a high fare, but try to mitigate that risk as much as possible.
As if saving money wasn’t motivating enough, booking early will allow you to the most options in selecting your preferred seat. If you prefer middle seats, then just ignore the last sentence
If you want to save money on flights, usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly.
Business travelers typically depart on Sunday or Monday and return home on Friday.
Weekend travel is usually busier and more expensive because more people are off work and more likely to travel. The same holds true for hotels, car rentals, moving services and even equipment rentals.
You’ve probably heard of some of the most common sites to save money on flights including:
Personally, I like using Kayak.com to see all available options. It searches the entire marketplace for flights and helps you find the best deal.
Then it redirects you to the carrier’s website to book the flight, as opposed to acting as a travel agent like Expedia, Priceline, etc. and booking on your behalf. This cuts out the middle man and saves you a little bit of money.
Google has a powerful tool called (you guessed it…) “Google Flights” that works similarly to kayak in that it searches the entire marketplace for you, allowing you to select the best deal.
However, it also has some increased functionality that the other travel search engines don’t have.
Let’s say you want to vacation in Hawaii this summer but are unsure of which island to visit. Simply search “Hawaii” and it will show you flights to different islands.
Pretty cool, huh?
Whether I’m traveling for business or pleasure is often a deciding factor of what airline I choose.
For business I always save money on flights by choosing the cheapest flight which often involves budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier. Basically, get me from point A to point B with little to no luggage.
When I’m traveling with the family on vacation, I’m more inclined to spend a bit more for a more comfortable flight.
Keep in mind that the more economic carriers often have smaller seats, typically don’t offer free refreshments, and usually charge you to check in a bag or even stow your bag in the overhead. The bag fees apply both for your departure and return flights, so you might net end up saving as much as you’d hoped.
I will admit that on a recent trip using an economic airline, the flight staff did an excellent job in maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols to keep me and other passengers safe.
I know that economic airlines often get mixed reviews, but even the more costly legacy carriers have their ups and downs.
I know exactly what you are thinking…
How is paying for insurance saving ME money?
You are right, well sort of.
Spending additional money on flight insurance seems counterintuitive if your goal is to save money on flights.
However, if an unexpected emergency happens that prevents you from going on your trip, you could be stuck eating the cost of the trip with nothing to show for it.
Sometimes airlines will grant you a travel voucher that you can use towards future travel, but remember, you will only be able to use it on that specific airline and eventually it will expire.
Personally, I don’t buy flight insurance for cheap, short flights unless the cost was high. However, you should definitely consider getting insurance for overseas travel and expensive domestic flights.
One of the simplest ways to save money on flights is by downloading your airline’s app and joining their rewards program.
Almost all airlines offer grant miles to their rewards program members based on the distance flown and the amount of money spent on each ticket. Essentially, you are paying for these miles, so you might as well collect them.
It may seem like a slow grind saving up enough miles for that trip you really want, especially if you’re just flying domestic. Long distance flights like vacations to Asia and Europe can bring you tons of reward miles, and using a rewards credit card for your daily purchases will help to speed up your progress.
The payoff might not be immediate, but consider saving your miles and redeeming them for that dream vacation down the road. Or even redeeming them for a magazine subscription or gift cards.
Remember, winning the rewards program game is not a 100-meter dash; it’s more like a nice walk in the park.
Just like having a favored make of vehicles, you might have a favorite airline that you love to fly with. If this is the case, I highly recommend that you open a rewards credit card that will grant you benefits with that specific airline.
Some of the most common perks include:
There are many credit cards out there that will help you earn an insane amount of miles redeemable for flights. The next time you are out buying groceries and thing about paying with cash, consider paying with a rewards card. If you are already going to spend the money, you might as well collect the miles.
We’ve all had the experience of waiting in the typical gate seating for flights, but once you’ve experienced the perks of lounge access it will change the way you see air travel. Some credit cards offer lounge access so be sure to take advantage of all the free perks your credit card has to offer.
Have any of these techniques helped you score some cheap airfare?
Which websites have you used to save money on flights?
Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
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