Flying is expensive! Whether it’s a critical business trip or a much-needed vacation, air travel can be one of the most daunting expenditures in your budget. There are no magic answers to this problem, but if you know where to look and you plan your trip properly, you can get the tickets you need without breaking the bank. The following simple tips will help you book the right flight at the right price.
Start looking for flights as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t 100% sure of your destination or travel dates, start doing research on flights you might end up taking – this can be a bit of a hassle, but it will save you a bundle in the future. Check the same flights frequently and see if you can track any patterns in the rise and fall of the ticket price. Different airlines have different schedules, so prices may vary from day to day. If you can, set aside a time each day when you will look up prices on your intended flight. Then, as soon as your travel plans are all finalized, grab that ticket! Prices go up steeply over time, especially in the last few weeks before the departure date. Always try to buy your tickets at least 1 month in advance.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and sometimes Monday are extremely heavy travel days, and airlines raise prices for flights on these high-demand days of the week. Adjusting your plans so that you can travel on Wednesday or Thursday could save you hundreds of dollars! Even if you’re planning on a weekend trip, try to find a way to extend it by 1-2 days so that you can avoid traveling on the weekend. This may also help you avoid aggravating lines at the airport!
These days, airlines charge a premium f or extra or overweight baggage. While a few airlines allow two free bags, most allow only one – and some even charge for that! Heavy bags (this usually means 50 pounds or more, but different airlines have their own policies) are also subject to fees, which can be extremely steep, so be sure to weigh your bags at home in order to avoid shelling out at the ticket counter. Minimizing your luggage can also make your trip more enjoyable, since you will have less to haul in and out of taxis and elevators. Think of yourself as a nomad and carry only what you absolutely need.
Sometimes you don’t have any choice – you have to fly on a particular day, and no other will do. But if it’s in any way possible, always take a look at flights on different days. Just a one- or two-day difference can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your flight. Even if you think your dates are set in stone, just take a look at a couple of alternative days. When you see the difference in prices, you may decide it’s worth it to change your travel dates.
Online bookings are cheaper for the airline since they don’t have to hire staff, and many pass the savings on to the consumer. Because it is so convenient, booking online is already the standard way to obtain tickets – but don’t forget that it’s cheaper as well!
While it’s not exactly pleasant waiting around in an airport for your next flight, layovers can save you a lot of money. Direct flights are more popular, and hence more expensive, so if you’re looking to conserve cash, consider flights with one or more stops in the middle. With a good book, the wait can go by in no time at all.
If you have a day to recover, taking an overnight flight can be a simple way to save. Obviously you don’t want to show up on the day of your presentation after a bad night’s sleep, but you might be surprised how quickly you can bounce back from a night flight. If you’re ok with being a little groggy when you arrive (or if you’re one of the few who can sleep in the air), overnight flights might be a good bet.
If you’re going to be in your destination city for more than 4 weeks, purchase two one-way tickets rather than an extended round-trip. Airlines charge more for round-trip tickets when the flights are more than a month apart.
This may be the most important tip of all. Many people think that if they search Expedia or Travelocity and browse the websites of a couple of major carriers, they’ve seen all their options. But metasearch engines such as Jetradar can find special offers and discount prices from hundreds of agencies with a single click. This is one tip that can save you not only money, but valuable time as well!