Earn/Save Money

The Many Ways to Save on Flights

I’ve learned a thing or two about buying flights in my life – especially during this Thailand/Bali adventure I’m on, where in total I needed to purchase 8 different flights. If you can find cheap airfare, that leaves a little more money to spend on your trip, which is money much better spent anyway. Here are the ways to save on your flight so that you can enjoy your getaway even more:

Timing

* Be aware if you’re flying during peak holidays, major events or school breaks. Flexibility always gives you the chance to save money, and although no one wants to be in a place like Miami in the middle of stifling summer, there is a middle ground between the two seasons. Going in the spring or fall when the weather is still nice and the tickets are more reasonable is your best bet.

*Also keep in mind that fares are typically highest 8-10 weeks and 2-3 weeks before your departure date – which means 4-6 weeks prior to your flight is the best time to buy. Avoid shopping for your flights on the weekends – since airlines generally announce sales mid-week, its best to check Tues-Thurs.

* Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are typically the cheapest days to fly. If you want to save even more, fly on the red-eye and pack your ambien. Sites like Orbitz and Travelocity make it easy to find the cheapest day by allowing you to search for fares 3 days before and after the dates you’ve requested.

Bing.com has a price predictor – enter your departure/arrival city and dates and the tool will tell you if prices are going to rise or fall so that you know the best time to buy. If you’ve already purchased your ticket, use Yapta to track prices and let you know if prices dropped so that you can get a refund or travel voucher.

Surrounding airports

* Flights to major airports can often be more expensive than smaller ones – which is why the budget conscious fly into Fort Lauderdale airport instead of Miami International when they had to South Beach. Discount airlines often fly into smaller airports, and it may be worthwhile to just pay for the car service or shuttle to get you to your final destination.

* Search engines like Orbits and Expedia have a little checkbox underneath your destination asking if you want to check out surrounding airports. Always worth a try.

Fees?!

* Make sure that your travel plans are solid when you book, since changing and canceling is stupid expensive these days. They usually like to charge you about $200 as a change fee, and then the difference in fare. Oftentimes, buying a new ticket is cheaper.

* Be careful with discount airlines, who like to really get you when you try to check baggage. You could even pay to carry-on your bags. And for water. And for the oxygen provided in-flight. Just make sure the discount ticket doesn’t end up costing more than a flight on a more comfortable airline. Check out FareCompare.com‘s domestic airline fee chart, which lists these fees and others charged by U.S. airlines.

Get alerted

* Check out Spirit Airlines’ $9 fare club. For $39.95 a year, you receive e-mails every six weeks, listing super discounted fares for international and domestic flights. Passengers on the same ticket will also get member prices as long as the member books.

* Watch out for airline tweets and posts on facebook – sometimes last minute and limited time deals are posted for their followers. You can also sign up for email alerts from airlines or with airfarewatchdog.com.

More Tools

* SkyScanner allows you to input “everywhere” into the destination search and your travel dates to reveal the cheapest options out there

* Kayak also lets you search “everywhere” through its Explore feature, which shows on a map the prices to fly to certain destinations.

* If you’re booking last minute, Priceline or Hotwire are good tools to name your own price. Although travelers won’t know the exact flight times or airline they will flying until they pay, it’s possible to save up to 50% using this method.

 

Travel is always a sound investment. The memories last a lifetime – and the last thing you want to have to remember is overpaying for your flight. Here’s to making sure you always outsmart the airlines!

 

 

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