Flying can be the ideal way to travel – you just sit back and relax and within a few hours you've travelled hundreds of miles. However, the cost of air travel has steadily increased, making it more difficult for many to afford airfare. Fortunately, you can save a lot on your next flight by using the following tips and advice.
Use Airfare Comparison Sites
The best way to begin your search for cheap flights is to use an airfare comparison website. These sites pull fares from different airlines for your specified route and travel dates, allowing users to spot any great deals within seconds. Sites like Kayak.com, Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity are all examples of reliable airfare comparison sites.
Check Value Airline Websites Individually
Following up on the previous tip, it's always a good idea to check the airfare on some of the value airlines like Southwest, JetBlue and Spirit since they may not show up on all airfare comparison sites. These airlines usually offer fewer amenities for travelers, but their airfare rates are generally cheaper. The only downside is that these smaller airlines tend to fly into fewer airports so your destination may not be in their network.
It's better to make a purchase in advance than to wait it out and hope for a last-minute deal. According to USA Today, the lowest airfare prices are offered on tickets purchased at least 21 days in advance.
If Your Travel Plans Are Not Set In Stone Make Sure To Buy A Refundable Ticket
If you know in advance that you might cancel your flight, try to book a flight where your airfare is refundable. Keep in mind that refundable flights are generally more expensive than non-refundable flights.
Monitor The Price Of Your Ticket After You Book It
Flights may drop in price as the departure date approaches. If you have already booked your ticket and the price falls, contact your airline. Some airlines will refund the difference. Other airlines will give you a refund only if the price of the ticket drops by a set amount.
Get Airfare Rewards Points
There are numerous ways to earn airfare credits that you can use towards future travel. Many credit cards offer points or miles every time you make a purchase. If you travel often, enroll in an airline's frequent flier program to get discounts and other perks when you fly. As with refund policies, it’s important to read the fine print. For example, check to find out how long your points or miles are good for and whether they roll over from one year to the next.
Check For Hidden Fees
Get acquainted with the fees associated with each airline and factor that into your decision. For example, Spirit often has low airfare rates, but they charge for carry-on bags in addition to checked bags. Similarly, Southwest offers two free checked bags for each customer. Food, Internet access and on-board entertainment may also be included or require additional fees, depending on the airline.
Fly Into Alternative Airports
In many cases, flying into an alternative airport can save you money. For example, check airfare rates for Baltimore rather than Washington, D.C. or Midway instead of O'Hare in Chicago. In some cases, you may need to rent a car or hop on a train to get to your destination city, but the savings in airfare may make the extra effort well worth it.
Be Flexible With Dates And Times
Flying early in the morning or late at night can often come with the benefit of lower airfare. In addition, you may be able to save money by being flexible about your travel dates. For instance, travelling on weekdays is often cheaper than travelling on weekends. If possible, schedule your travel away from holidays as well, since airfare rates tend to sharply increase during these periods of the year.
Use A Travel Agent
In some cases, paying for a travel agent's skills and know-how pays for itself. Since agents have insider knowledge and connections with various airlines, they can often get you the lowest rate and may even be able to get you better seats on the flight.
If you're a risk taker, then flying standby might be a great way to save money on airfare. Basically, the standby option requires you to be ready to leave at the airport without knowing if you have a guaranteed seat on the flight. However, you can increase your chances of getting on the flight by calling the airline ahead of time to find out if there are empty seats on the flight and get your name on the standby list. If you're chosen for the flight, you'll usually get a discounted price for airfare.
The next time you plan on booking a flight, take these tips into consideration. They might end up saving you hundreds of dollars on your airfare.