Booking travel in the age of technology is as easy as a few clicks. Booking affordable travel is another story.
Struggling airlines have been forced to charge for everything from bags to in-flight entertainment. These exorbitant fees have even the most infrequent fliers searching for ways to save money on flights. We’ve compiled this list of simple money-saving tips to help you get where you are going for a fraction of the cost. It will help you decide when to book, the best days to fly, how to find budget airlines and the which flight packages to go for and which to avoid.
Compare Multiple Websites
It may seem like a no-brainer to compare prices when searching for flights, but many people don’t. Instead, they trust that the first site that promises the lowest fare or just use the site’s own comparison tools.
While this method may find the cheapest flights, it often misses special offers and limited time deals. The best method is to use one of these flights and then check the airlines website to verify that this is indeed the best bang for your buck. During our search, we found we could usually save money by buying straight from airlines that had ongoing promotions.
Fly With Two Different Airlines
Buying your return ticket at the same time as your departure makes sense, but don’t let this make you think that you need to buy them with the same airline. You can find one-way tickets for a very reasonable price and there is nothing at all stopping you from taking advantage of these fares both ways.
We recommend checking with the airlines directly to see if they have any exclusive sales or local deals. Like we said before, comparison sites sometimes miss these more specific price drop alerts.
Book In Advance
This is easily the most common piece of advice that you will hear — because it works. The question is, how far in advance?
While it doesn’t hurt to look months to a year in advance, studies have shown that six weeks is the magic number to the age-old question of when to book. Travelers who booked six weeks in advance saved the most money without having to scrounge for deals or spend hours perusing travel sites. So clear a time on your calendar six weeks from now and book your next adventure.
Travel With Smaller Airlines
Smaller airlines can’t afford to advertise to the tune of millions of dollars like the big names can. This means they will be lower on web searches, comparison sites, and you will almost never see their ads. This can mean clicking through page after page of offers from big time airlines, but it is usually worth it as these tickets are often, 1-5% cheaper. Budget airlines are especially thrifty on flights of 2 hours or less.
Hump-Day Is the Best Day to Save
If you’ve ever wondered which are the best days to fly, then consider the middle of the week.
It’s true — Wednesday is the best day to save money on your flight. Since most people are cresting the hill of their work week, you can be flying to your next vacation spot for a fraction of the cost it would cost you on weekends and peak days.
Fly Earlier, Fly Late
The first flights in the morning and the last at night are generally the hardest for airlines to book. For that reason, they are also typically the cheapest. It may be a pain to wake up early or travel in the middle of the night, but your wallet will thank you. When you are booking flights look at the flight schedule and compare the prices of tickets during the day with red-eye and early-bird flights. Chances are they will be around $10-$20 cheaper. You might have to play through the pain when you arrive, but you will have extra money to spend where you want to.
Apply For Miles Credit Cards
These credit cards are one of the best ways to save money on airline tickets. You can use them anywhere and you won’t even notice that you are building miles every time you swipe your card — until you go to redeem them and find that you have earned several hundred points off of a ticket. When applied, these points usually beat even the best deals on the market and prices offered by budget airlines. Just make sure you know the terms of your specific credit card as some earn miles for everything you buy; while others, require more specific purchase (i.e. groceries).
The absolute best way to save money on flights is to be flexible. Wednesdays are considered of the best days to fly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a better deal on a Saturday for your particular flight. Similarly, you may get a price drop alerts that follow none of the tips we laid out in this article.
There is no one way to guarantee that you will shave costs, so the best way to assure you find the absolute best deal for your trip is to do your research and not have too many requirements on when or how you want to get there. Flexibility will allow you use these tips deftly to find great prices on your next trip.