1. Book at the Right Time Save
This one may seem obvious, but the earlier you book your flight, the better the rate and the better the choices you’ll have. According to CheapAir, for travelers on a budget, the Prime Booking Window is approximately 95 to 21 days (three months to three weeks) in advance. But on average, booking 64 days out from the date you plan to travel offers the lowest prices.
And it really doesn’t matter which day of the week you book, but flights midweek on Tuesdays and Wednesdays “almost always offer the best value,” says CheapAir, by as much as $82 as opposed to flying on a Sunday, for example. If you want some choices, like seat choice and specific flight times, you can still save about $37 by booking your flight 201 to 96 days (six and a half to three months) in advance. You’ll have options, but not as many as if you book even earlier. So file that away in your memory bank next time you’re planning a trip.
2. Use Flexible Dates for the Cheapest Travel Times
If you have some flexibility, red-eye flights, flights with layovers and off-season flights are usually the cheapest. Obviously, 2021 differed from most years, but March was the most expensive month to fly last year, according to CheapAir.Sites like Skyscanner and Kayak let you explore prices for round-trip flights from your departure city to destinations around the world. Kayak even offers the option to filter destinations by activity or type, like skiing, wine regions, family-friendly destinations and more. Save
3. Look for Extra Airline Fees Before You Book
Although there are some fees you can’t control, including fuel costs, airport taxes and maintenance costs, there are plenty that you can. Checked bag fees vary from one airline to another. If a flight price is similar between one or two airlines, check out the fees that come along with buying a seat. That might tip the scale when choosing. Be mindful of baggage weight and limits and pack as light as possible to avoid overcharges. Save
4. Check Airlines Where Kids Fly Free or for a Discounted Rate
If you’re traveling with kids, some airlines won’t charge for their seats. For example, Frontier Airlines lets kids under 15 fly for free on qualifying flights with an adult who is in the Discount Den program. The annual membership costs $59.99 for one year and new members pay $99.99 for their first year, which includes a $40 enrollment fee. Save
Most airlines, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, allow kids under the age of 2 to fly for free, provided they aren’t occupying a seat, or offer discounted rates.
5. Set a Price Alert for Cheapest Airfare
Deal sites like Google Flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights, Kayak and Hopper offer the option to watch the flights you’re interested in, sending updates if prices fluctuate. Most sites also offer calendar views, date grids or price graphs that map out the cheapest days to fly. Save
6. Follow Your Favorite Airline on Social Media
Image: United / Twitter
Nowadays, airlines are heavy social media users. They use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to reach and engage with their customers. From customer complaints to tooting their own horns, airlines are using social media for several reasons, including promoting new deals and savings alerts to their followers. It’s also worth following pages like The Flight Deal on Facebook and Secret Flying on Twitter for hot travel deals around the world.
These are popular airlines to follow on Twitter:
- British Airlines.
- Frontier Airlines.
- Southwest Airlines.
- Spirit Airline.
- United Airlines.
7. Search for Travel Coupons and Deals
Search the RetailMeNot travel section for thousands of available travel deals updated daily. You might even earn cash back on your vacation. Plus, most airlines have a dedicated page for their current deals and promos. If you’re interested in international travel, try signing up for a service like Next Vacay. It delivers the cheapest direct flight (and sometimes one-stop flights) deals from your home airport to your preferred destinations. There is a $25 annual fee, but the first month is free and there is a six-month money-back guarantee if you don’t like the service.
8. Consider Flying a Budget Airline
Budget airlines offer cost-effective, no-frills options to travelers. For example, you can get a cheap international flight through BudgetAir. They also offer other ways to save, including the option of landing at a different airport than the one you ultimately depart from, also known as the open-jaw itinerary. You can get a cheap domestic flight through Allegiant Air and then pay for your carry-on baggage or up to four checked bags.
9. Watch for Flash Deals and Airline Promotions
If you have a flexible schedule and multiple destinations in mind, keep your eyes peeled for airline flash sales. Airlines like Southwest, JetBlue and Frontier Airlines run flash sales between certain cities and during specific timeframes, allowing you to book airfare for a fraction of the cost.For example, United Airlines is currently offering a 5% discount on flights to MileagePlus members that are 18 to 22 years old until June 30, 2022.
10. Shop for Travel Package Deals
Booking a flight and hotel together on sites like Expedia, Booking.com and Southwest Vacations can save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation. Expedia even offers the option to bundle in a hotel until your trip starts with “Expedia Add-On Advantage,” so you can take your time finding the best accommodations while getting a great deal.
11. Get a Travel Reward Credit Card
Nowadays, pretty much every airline has its own credit card—including the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card, JetBlue Card, the United Explorer Card and American Airlines Advantage—where you can earn points on purchases to redeem for flights, gift cards and more.
Most award bonus points after you spend a certain amount within the first few months—enough to land you a free flight. You’ll also benefit from travel perks like discounts on in-flight purchases, priority boarding, travel and purchase coverage, no foreign transaction fees, a free checked bag and more.
12. Enroll in a Frequent Flyer Program
Don’t forget to enroll in frequent flyer programs at your favorite airline. It’s free, and even if you don’t fly often on one particular carrier, most airlines are part of a larger group (OneWorld,Star Alliance and SkyTeam) where your frequent flyer points are shareable. The American Airlines Advantage program is one of the best loyalty programs around.
13. Watch for Lower Prices After Booking Your Flight
After you purchase your airline ticket, websites like Orbitz will refund the difference in price if you find a cheaper rate on another site. So, once you buy, monitor the price of your flight. JetBlue offers the Best Fare Guarantee for airfare prices that are over $5 lower than the price you paid. You’ll receive a $50 credit if you contact them on the same day as your booking.
14. Know the Airline’s 24-Hour Reservation Requirement
Thanks to the Department of Transportation (DOT), all U.S. and foreign air carriers must comply with the customer service rule that requires them “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be canceled within 24 hours without penalty.” Some airlines offer even longer holds, but do charge a non-refundable fee.
- United Airlines has a 24-hour flexible booking policy and FareLock, which holds qualifying flights for three, seven or 14 days at the reserved rate.
- The Air France Time to Think guarantees your booking and rate for up to three days.
- American Airlines will hold your reservation for 24 hours, and will give you the option to extend your hold on select flights.
- Spirit Airlines lets you cancel your flight for free if it’s over 60 days from your travel date.
- United Airlines has done away with change fees on qualifying flights, allowing for more flexibility for travelers.
15. Join AARP Regardless of Your Age
People of any age can join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), although only those 50 and over can have access to a full AARP membership. Members under 50 have access to benefits that aren’t restricted by vendor offer requirements. Benefits include up to $65 off per person with select airlines, including American, British Airways, United and JetBlue. Go to the AAPR Travel Center to find out more.
16. Get Paid for Airline Delays
Did you know the DOT requires airlines to compensate passengers when there are significant delays with their flights? JetBlue Airways is one airline that offers different compensation for departure delays and flight cancellations with up to a $250 credit, depending on the length of the delay, and overbooked passengers who are bumped involuntarily receive $1,550. Check your airline to find out whether they have a similar policy for compensation.
By: The Real Deal